During the spring of 1988, the Provincial Chapter of the American Province of the Piarist Fathers decided to send two priests to work in Appalachia to pursue the work of the Piarists in the field of education. They went to Eastern Kentucky to work in the newly-established Diocese of Lexington.
In August of 1990, the Piarist Fathers founded their most recent school in the United States when the Piarist School, a private Catholic college preparatory high school, opened its doors in Floyd County, KY, to serve all those desiring a quality education in a Christian setting.
Taking into account the extreme poverty of the people and keeping the charisma of St. Joseph Calasanz in mind, the Piarists decided the school would be tuition-free and dependent on the charitable contributions of the people of God for its existence.
The Piarist School opened with one freshman class. It added a class each year until the 1993-1994 school year, when the school graduated its first class. In 2009, the Piarist School began a middle school by adding the seventh and eighth grade to the high school program. At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, the Piarist School moved from its original location in Martin, KY to a new location in Hagerhill, KY. The new location allows the school to better serve the students living below the poverty line in the surrounding counties however it does not have a gym on site which causes many problems. The Piarist School basketball and volleyball teams must travel 25 miles each way to practice or play home games at another location; the students have no area to hold dances; the Outreach Program now has no building to hold community events in, and Physical Education is limited to the parking lot. When a need arises to bring the school together for an assembly, there is no location to hold the students. With all of these needs, the Piarist School is currently raising money to build a gym on the school grounds in addition to the expenses needed to run the school on a day to day basis. The costs are steep.
All the while, the Piarist School continues to grow. The school is accredited by the state and is a member of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association. The Piarist School is widely known for providing the best education in the area and for continually being tuition free. Currently the Piarist School is ranked as the fourth best Catholic High School in Kentucky and fourteenth among all private schools in the state. Most of those ranked above it are in major cities like Louisville and Lexington.
One other important facet to the Piarist Mission in Appalachia is the Outreach Program. Each year, hundreds of people send down good, used clothing and school supplies for the children. Dozens of volunteers work on short-term emergency home repair projects. Some volunteers stay and teach at the school for a year. Every Christmas, Piarist School students deliver over 1,000 presents to needy children, and most of the gifts are donations received from our many co-missioners. Much work has been done, but there is still much to do.