A Catholic high school will return to Key West in 2023, answering the requests (and prayers) of several local parents and families who long have wanted their child’s Catholic-school education at The Basilica School of St. Mary Star of the Sea to continue beyond eighth grade.

The Basilica High School will become a reality for the 2023-2024 school year, Principal Robert Wright announced on March 21. 

Currently offering pre-school (starting at age 3) through eighth grade, the Basilica School will add grades 9 and 10 in August 2023.

“The last graduating class of Mary Immaculate High School was in 1986,” Wright told the Keys Weekly on March 22. “The school closed because of declining enrollment. Our enrollment increased 100% between 2013-2019. We have been at capacity with a waiting list since then.”

The Basilica High School will be the only Catholic high school in Monroe County, and plans to offer enrollment to students in Key West and the Lower Keys, he said.

Continuing the tradition of the current, fully accredited school, the new high school will offer students dual enrollment and advanced placement courses, the latest technology, and the most popular extracurricular activities, clubs and sports programs, Wright said.

“With an anticipated/expected enrollment of approximately 180 students by year three, the vision is to keep classes small, and to do small well,” he said, adding that scholarship programs, available through Step Up for Students, will keep costs affordable for all families.

“As valued in Catholic tradition, our new Basilica High School will continue to provide academic excellence to our community’s adolescents, while encouraging intellectual curiosity and the pursuit of truth, goodness and beauty,” Wright said.

“People are hungry for purpose, for truth, for beauty in life. Whether you’re religious or not, our hearts desire this – and we want to nurture in our children a sense of purpose,” he added. “We want young people who are kind, compassionate, people of strong integrity. We want children who desire virtue over vice. A Catholic school must first be Catholic above all other things, including academics, athletics and such. When a Catholic school embraces this identity, the ethos of the school becomes one of peace and generosity. And from that, we have classrooms that are more conducive to learning, we have athletes that compete for a greater purpose than self-glory and we have a community that seeks the wellbeing of the other before self. Key West is a community that deeply cares about its neighbors. Perhaps it’s in the water – either way, I believe at its core, we have a community that desires virtue and our school stands to offer this.”

Local architect Bill Horn will redesign the Basilica School’s old auditorium into a 17,500-square-foot academic facility.  The school will launch a capital campaign, called From Start to Finish, in the coming weeks.

“St. John Paul II said that the mission of Catholic education is to preach Christ to the world. Our faith is the cornerstone of all that we do here,” said Wright. “Many parents, whether or not they deem themselves religious, want their children to possess faith-based values: charity, kindness,

compassion and a solid work ethic. They want them to be persons of high integrity, and so do we. We work hard to plant seeds of virtue in our young people, and I am glad we’re taking the next step to continue nurturing the growth of those values through the critical teen years.”

For more information or to support the capital campaign, contact Wright at [email protected].


Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.