Our History

Dear Parents,

When I arrived at St. Catherine’s parish as pastor in 2016, I quickly began to receive requests for a Catholic high school in the area. Although there are a few options for Catholic high schools in the archdiocese, the commute to these schools can be quite a burden. The archdiocese indicated to me that there were no plans to build a Catholic high school in this area in the near future, so I began to look at the possibility of opening an independent (or non-diocesan) Catholic high school. 

In 2022, I, along with the board of directors I formed, were exploring the possibility of partnering with the Chesterton Schools Network and decided to pursue this. This partnership allowed us to essentially purchase a franchise and open a local Chesterton Academy, which gave us access to the resources and expertise of the organization which has been in operation since 2007.

I met with Archbishop Hartmayer to speak to him about the plans for the school, and he very graciously encouraged us to move forward and has even allowed us to use parish facilities for the location for the school (I have several classrooms in the parish office building that are not used during the day). We opened Chesterton Academy of Atlanta with one (freshman) class in August of 2023 and will ultimately be able to accommodate close to 200 students once all the grades are added.

For those not familiar with G.K. Chesterton, he was an English convert to the Catholic faith who was a very saintly man and one of the most brilliant and prolific writers of the 20th century, and he was extremely influential in the lives of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The founders of the first Chesterton school were inspired by the life and teaching of G.K. Chesterton and, as their website states, they had a very clear mission when they opened the first school: “to offer a classical, integrated high school education that was faithful to the Catholic Church and affordable for families of average means.” A few years after opening the first school, they decided to offer the model for others to replicate and formed the Chesterton Schools Network. There are currently almost 70 Chesterton schools around the country with several more opening each year.

In some ways, Chesterton schools are different from many other Catholic schools in that they promote a classical curriculum and focus a great deal on the arts. For those who may be unfamiliar with classical education, I invite you to read this helpful article.

Since the school is not an archdiocesan school, it operates under the authority of an independent board of directors, which I am initially chairing. Nonetheless, Chesterton Academy will always work in concert with the Archbishop and archdiocesan office of Catholic schools to ensure that the school has a solid Catholic identity and strong academics, and we are seeking accreditation through the Georgia Independent Schools Association and Cognia.

To be sure, Chesterton schools are unequivocally Catholic. However, with independent schools, there is a process whereby the Archbishop must give approval for the school to be formally identified as “Catholic,” so we will not initially be referring to the school as a “Catholic school” but rather a “classical high school grounded in the Catholic faith.”

For more information about Chesterton schools, you can explore our school website or visit the Chesterton Schools Network website at www.chestertonschoolsnetwork.org. 

Sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Neil Dhabliwala
Pastor, St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church
Co-founder and Chair of the Board, Chesterton Academy of Atlanta