At De La Salle North Catholic High School Tuesday, news of an agreement between the school and St. Charles Parish coincided with a senior celebration.

By fall 2021, De La Salle will open at St. Charles Parish, 3.5 miles away from the school’s current facility.

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By fall 2021, De La Salle High School will open at St. Charles Parish.

By fall 2021, De La Salle High School will open at St. Charles Parish.

Elizabeth Miller / OPB

“We thought 'wow, what an opportunity to share with them the news about our new campus,'” said school president Oscar Leong. “It was quite – I thought, very emotional for me – the reaction of the student body.”

Portland Public Schools is forcing De La Salle North Catholic out of its current building, the former Kenton Elementary School in North Portland. After three years visiting more than 40 sites around Portland, De La Salle officials have agreed to relocate to the St. Charles Parish property, which includes a grade school that closed in 1986.

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The new property will be the high school’s third location since opening in 2001. But the St. Charles location may be its most permanent – the two parties have signed a letter of intent to a 50 year lease, with two 25 year extensions.

“I really, truly believe this will be a hub for the community,” said Leong.

De La Salle North Catholic offers a low-cost private education, with a work study program helping pay tuition costs.

Leong has talked to church leadership about possible collaboration on new programs to benefit the community. He says those talks are just beginning.

“What programs do our students need, our parents need, do the parishioners need, that is not available to them?”

As Portland neighborhoods have changed, Leong says, some families have moved closer to St. Charles.

De La Salle administrators say they poured $2 million into the Kenton site. Now that the agreement has been signed for a new building, Leong says the next step is talking to donors and starting a capital campaign to raise money for renovations.

“When you look at that campus, you see potential,” said Leong. “I think we as a school need to make sure that we have all the things that a high school requires.”

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