POCATELLO — A local elementary school run by Franciscan sisters that has offered a unique, acting-based curriculum for the past 34 years will close its doors for kindergarten through the sixth grade at the end of this academic year.
Officials with the Cre-Act School, short for Creative Acting, made the announcement to faculty members Thursday afternoon and to Cre-Act families Thursday night. The sisters plan to continue their preschool program at a new location, ensuring education in the Cre-Act style won’t disappear from the community.
“The Cre-Act School has had a strong and vigorous life as an institution. It’s not something that the Franciscan Sisters have decided lightly to close,” Sister Francine Cardew, director of education for the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in Portland, Ore., said while in Pocatello Thursday.
The Cre-Act School, started by Mother Dorothy Prokes, has an enrollment of 46 students. Officials say it’s the only school of its kind in the country.
“There are a multitude of reasons why the school needed to be closed as a formal institution,” Cardew said. “One would be finances of course. Another would be finding the appropriate staffing for the specialized program to make it develop as a Cre-Act school should develop.”
The preschool will be merged with the existing READ Program, Franciscan Counseling Center and the elderly program started by the late Mother Mona Brunner to form a new Franciscan Intergenerational Service.
The sisters plan to launch the intergenerational program this September in a new location. They have not yet decided where the future location for the intergenerational program will be or what they will do with their school building. The Cre-Act School, located at 526 S. Grant Ave., was previously Emerson Elementary School.
“That’s still in the process,” said Sister Anthony Marie Greving, a member of the local Franciscan community at Desert House, “and we just felt we’d get past today telling parents and the children and teachers. We’ll take it one step at a time. We could put it up for sale, but that’s yet to be determined.”
Greving said the sisters will remain committed to local family life education through the new program.
“This has been an issue for the past few years trying to determine what’s the best way for the Family Life Center (the current facility where the Franciscan programs are offered) to continue its mission,” Greving said. “There’s been a lot of prayer and a lot of discussion about this decision.”
The elderly program Mother Mona started offers classes and other assistance to help an aging population cope with life’s challenges. The READ program offers after-school tutoring in reading for youths throughout the community.
Mother Prokes, who also lives in Desert House and recently celebrated her 90th birthday, has published a book on the Cre-Act method entitled, “A Road Map to Education: The Cre-Act Way.”
Greving said several elementary schools, high schools and even universities throughout the country have inquired about the Cre-Act method to use for class instruction.
Cardew explained at the Cre-Act school, lessons incorporate the senses and body movement. The entire student body participate in a play each year. And in math class, for example, she said students might form groups and join other groups to illustrate addition, subtraction or multiplication.