Cathedral Preparatory School
Villa Maria Academy

Cathedral Prep Campus Consolidation Plan

 January 13, 2022

On behalf of the Most Reverend, Lawrence T. Persico and the Erie Catholic Preparatory School Board of Directors, we are delighted to announce that Mr. Kevin Smith has been selected as our new President, beginning July 1, 2022. An extensive, national search was conducted by Carney-Sandoe & Associates, and applicants from across the country were considered. Mr. Smith’s successful experience as an administrator, which includes over three decades as a professional educator, set him apart from other candidates. Throughout the interview process, it was clear he was a right fit for the ECPS family.

Smith currently serves Monte Cassino School as its Head of School and Chief Executive Officer. During his 37 years as a professional educator, Kevin has worked in several outstanding private schools. At Monte Cassino, Kevin has led a thriving campus that is home to 780 students and 150 faculty and staff. Under his leadership, the school has become one of the best Catholic schools in our nation. Guided by an ambitious Strategic Plan, Monte Cassino has advanced its mission and enrollment and launched innovative programs to attract underserved students and continues to advance an already excellent academic program.

In addition to leading the school, Kevin is active in school accreditation, leading many site visits and serving on the Accreditation Review Committee for the Independent Schools of the Central States. He also serves on the Advisory Council for the School of Education and Health Sciences at the University of Dayton, his alma mater. Kevin is a Magna cum Laude graduate from the University of Dayton in 1985 and earned his M.Ed. from Bowling Green State University in exercise sciences. While at UD, Kevin served on the Academic Affairs Committee, the Athletic Advisory Committee, the Health Education/Physical Education Club, and was a founding member and officer in the professional education fraternity, Epsilon Delta Upsilon.

Kevin is married to Maria Pace Smith, who works in IT. They have two children, TJ, and Maggie. Away from work, you might find Kevin on his mountain bike, skiing, golfing, reading, or playing with his kids.

“This intensive national search for our next President united our school community as we identified the qualities and attributes desired in our next leader, through a thorough and inclusive process. It also offered us the opportunity to reflect on our collective history as we prepare for a transformational change as a united school community in the Fall of 2022,” Sara Kallner ’93, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, said. “This process led us to reconsider past decisions. Our combined high school will be named Cathedral Preparatory School (Cathedral Prep). Our grade school will continue to be named Mother Teresa Academy. However, our corporate name, currently Erie Catholic Preparatory School, will be changed to Villa Maria Cathedral Preparatory Catholic School System to properly honor our 230 year-strong combined high school history, and recognize that our organization consists of both a high school and a grade school. Additionally, we will incorporate orange, blue and black together as our new colors when we consolidate on one campus next fall as the new co-educational Cathedral Preparatory School. Kevin Smith demonstrated to our community that he is the best candidate, as he possesses the experience, qualifications, vision, and history of success to lead our school community to its fullest potential as the leader in the region for an exceptional educational experience.  On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am thrilled to welcome Kevin to our schools, and look forward to seeing the positive and inspirational impact he has on our community.”

The Board appreciates the over 700 faculty, staff, parents, students, alumni, benefactors, and board members who provided insight and feedback through interviews and group meetings. A special thank you to the search committee, chaired by Tina Cicchetti Donikowski ’77, for devoting countless hours to vetting the candidates. The board also recognizes David C. Slomski ’72 for his leadership and commitment to Cathedral Prep, Villa Maria Academy and Mother Teresa Academy while serving as Interim President, which he will continue to do through June 30, 2022. We were blessed to have his continued guidance through the search process, and we are forever grateful.

We would like to welcome Mr. Smith as our new President. As we move into this new era, we are thankful for God’s abundant blessings, our mission, the faculty, and staff who faithfully carry out this mission, and everyone involved within our exceptional community.”

December 15, 2021

On April 15th, we broke ground on the Salata Technology & Innovation Center. Eight months later, to the day, the last steel beam was placed as the skeleton of what will be center of our consolidated campus was finally complete. Yesterday, students, faculty, alumni, friends, and administrators gathered for the “Topping Off” Ceremony. The “Topping Off’ Ceremony is a long-standing tradition of construction workers, particularly steelworkers, to commemorate the completion of a building’s structure – specifically the placement of the final steel beam. A tree is fixed to the final beam of a project as a symbol of good luck continued growth for the occupants, as well as an American flag to honor our country. This marked another significant and momentous occasion in the history of this young structure, and the continued progress it shows as we prepare for its completion.

April 15, 2021
Blessing & Groundbreaking Ceremony of
The Salata Technology and Innovation Center

On Thursday, April 15, 2021, the ground was officially blessed and broken on the $12.5 million Salata Technology and Innovation Center. The expansion which will be located on West 10th Street will serve as the new gateway to Cathedral Preparatory School.

The Most Reverend Lawrence T. Persico, Bishop of Erie, alongside, board members, administrators, and political figures helped break the ground and kick off our new construction. Air Force Junior ROTC Color Guard presented the colors and Mary Grace Kelly '21 gave a beautiful acapella rendition of the National Anthem.

To make room for the sprawling three story 35,000 square foot addition, the existing athletic wing as well as the law firm that currently sits on Cathedral Prep's campus will be demolished.

As times are changing and the landscape of Catholic education continues to evolve, we want to continue to remain on the cutting edge of technology and educational programs. The new building will be focusing on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) programs and courses. We would like to give a very special thank you to Nancy (Scalzitti) Hilbert '87 for taking time to grab photos of this monumental event in our school's history!

November 11, 2020

Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria Academy have a long-standing history in the Erie Community beginning in 1921 and 1892 respectively. Throughout their history Cathedral Prep has remained an all-boys institution focusing on developing men of vision in spirit, mind and body. Villa began as an all-girls boarding school in 1892, became coeducational in 1989, and went back to an all-girls school following the merger with Cathedral Prep in 2009.  Both campuses have continued to provide a college preparatory academic environment like no other.  As times are changing and the landscape of Catholic education continues to evolve, we want to continue to remain on the cutting edge of technology and educational programs. Through the generosity of many donors we are excited to announce the GROUNDBREAKING expansion of the Cathedral Prep campus which will include a $12,500,000 million dollar addition focusing on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) programs and courses. The new building will also include a Student Life Center, which will serve the dual purpose of a dining and learning space. Additionally, the former pool space will be divided to create a dance studio and fitness center, and the Prep library will be transformed into a chapel. The decision to streamline all resources into this bold initiative also comes with the understanding and appreciation that all students benefit from this amazing facility.  Thus, the students at the Villa campus will move to the Prep Campus in September 2022 creating a coed Catholic college preparatory school with cutting-edge Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Mathematics facilities and programs.

The Most Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, Bishop of Erie, stated, “The initiative bringing Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria Academy together, housed under one roof, has my total support.

This is an important step to support and enhance Catholic secondary education in the city of Erie. The hopes of those who came before us, including Archbishop John Mark Gannon who founded Cathedral Preparatory School, and the Sisters of St. Joseph, who guided generations of students through Villa Maria Academy, will continue to be realized.

I also am very pleased by the school’s commitment to the community as it invests $12.5 million in the heart of downtown Erie. It’s a strong vision for the future, and area families seeking a Catholic education are extremely fortunate they will continue to have options.”

Construction on the Cathedral Prep campus will begin in May of 2021 and will be completed prior to the 2022-2023 school year. Jim Gallagher, Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Erie, added, “This is a bold and important step for Prep-Villa. I am pleased they are responding to the changing circumstances within our community and the needs of Catholic education. This move contributes to the overall vision of Catholic education in the diocese and creates exciting possibilities for future students.” Some of the new programs that will be available to all our students will be E-sports, Robotics, Engineering, Cybersecurity, Design & Fabrication, TV/Video Production, etc. We will also be updating our music, visual and performing arts spaces which will include a choir studio, dance studio and visual arts space. This will position Cathedral Preparatory School to build on the successes of the past while boldly looking to the future and continuing to be one of the premier college preparatory schools in the country.

For the media, please direct all questions to Mr. Dave Slomski, Interim President (814-453-7737, Ext. 2230 or

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