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Published 11:47am Thursday, May 29, 2014

The retired head of a Catholic high school in Natchez will lead St. Aloysius until a new principal is named, the school’s dean of students told Vicksburg Lions Club on Wednesday.

Jules Michelle, retired principal of Cathedral School in Natchez, will serve on an interim basis until a search committee finds a new full-time principal, said Mike Jones, dean of students at St. Aloysius.

“He has stepped up and is coming in a couple hours a day,” Jones said.

Michelle is temporarily filling the role left vacant by the departure of Michele Connelly who was named executive director of the United Way of West Central Mississippi.

Connelly was named to her current post to replacing retiring director Barbara Tolliver.

Vicksburg Catholic Schools — St. Aloysius and St. Francis Xavier — ended the academic year with an enrollment of 560 students, Jones said. The school would be at capacity with about 700 students, he said.

“We haven’t gone below 540 in many, many years,” Jones said. “We always fluctuated between there and 650 students.”

About 60 percent of the students who attend the two schools are not Catholic, he said..

“When Joe (Loviza) and I were in high school it was probably 95 percent Catholic,” Jones said. “Over the years, a lot of that has changed.”

Tuition varies depending on if a student is Catholic, but averages to about $6,000 a year, Jones said.  Funding for the school comes from tuition and donations, though some federal funds are received.

Students must complete a service project to graduate, and last year students from St. Aloysius provided more than 7,000 hours of community service.  The school also offers an advanced curriculum and encourages students to take part in extra curricular activities.

“It’s important for these kids to have great opportunities,” he said.

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