As of school year 2013-2014, all-girls’ St. Matthias High School will become a co-educational college preparatory institution, as it was when Pius X High School opened in 1953 (a year before St. Pius’ canonization) on the same Downey campus.With the new model, the school will change its name to St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy and its principal will be Erick Rubalcava, former principal of Junípero Serra High School, who for the last two years has been serving as the president of both campuses under a collaborative model.The announcement was made Aug. 21 by Auxiliary Bishop Edward Clark during a packed parent meeting at the school’s auditorium. Also present at the stage were Msgr. Sabato Pilato, archdiocesan superintendent of Catholic high schools, Sister of Charity Mary Elizabeth Galt, archdiocesan chancellor; Veronica Sosaya, the school’s vice-principal, and Rubalcava.After an introduction in English where he stressed the importance of Catholic schools as a source to “develop leaders for society, with ethical background and integrity,” Bishop Clark made the announcement in Spanish to the mostly Latino audience.“The Archdiocese of Los Angeles thinks that we can make better use of St. Matthias if we turn it into a co-ed school in 2013,” he said. With an enrollment of about 280, for the last two years, the school has been functioning on one floor of the two-floor building. Authorities estimate that with the new model, enrollment eventually will increase to 500 students.Bishop Clark and Msgr. Pilato, who preceded the bishop in his remarks, said that with the new model the school would offer an opportunity to a larger number of students in Downey and surrounding underserved cities such as Watts and Compton, to get an “excellent education.”St. Matthias High School began as a parish high school near St. Matthias Church in Huntington Park in 1960 and moved to the former Pius X campus in 1995. Facing budget challenges, in the spring of 2010 the archdiocese decided to establish a temporary collaborative model between the Downey school and Gardena’s co-ed Junípero Serra High School.During two years, the two campuses shared human and material resources, functioning under the leadership of a president and a business manager.After two studies conducted during the past 18 months, including an extensive review by Loyola Marymount University’s Center for Catholic Education — which included interviews with leadership in surrounding parishes, parish schools and other archdiocesan and private Catholic high schools — the high school’s consultative council recommended the gradual transformation into a co-educational institution.The last time a single gender school went co-ed was in 1991 with Serra, according to Msgr Pilato.Previous examples of schools switching from single-gender to coeducational includes Providence High School in Burbank, from all-girls’ to co-ed in 1974, and Mary Star of the Sea High School in San Pedro, which (like St. Matthias) began as a co-ed high school, became all-girls’ in 1959, and went back to being co-ed in 1975.The announcement was welcomed by the community, including leaders of other Catholic schools in the area.“I want to congratulate you and the archdiocese on the decision to invite boys to St. Matthias next year,” Paul Escala, president of St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower wrote in an email to Msgr. Pilato. “We welcome the expansion of Catholic education in our archdiocese as a sign of strength and growth of our vocation.” For more information about St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy, visit or call marketing director Keani Romero at (562) 861-2271, extension 1015. More details of the new model will be provided in the Sept. 28 San Pedro Regional section.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0907/stmatthias/{/gallery}