COLUMBIA — At 7:40 a.m. Monday, 60 ninth- and 10th-graders wearing new blue, gray and white shirts — their new school colors — filled the seats in Columbia College's Nursing Education Center.
Click, flash, click, flash. A paparazzi of parents captured the long-awaited scene of boys dressed in their best khakis and girls sporting their wildest pairs of knee socks.
It was opening day for Father Tolton Regional Catholic High School, Columbia's first Catholic high school. The morning began with encouraging remarks from school leaders and a prayer service.
"This school is the culmination of a dream of a lot of people," Tolton Principal Kristie Wolfe told the gathering.
The students will meet at Columbia College until their new building on East Gans Road is completed in a few weeks.
Calling the day historic, Donald Novotney, superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City, gave a big congratulations to all involved in the Tolton community.
Novotney spoke of the carefully selected faculty at Tolton — teachers chosen, he said, for their love of high school students, their strong faith in their own lives and their high academic qualifications.
Clearly amused, Novotney noted the bright, patterned knee socks most of the skirt-wearing girls had on. He explained there were no specifications on socks in the dress code because Wolfe wanted the girls to be able to express their creativity.
Father Mike Coleman, the school's opening-year chaplain, said that for the 30 years he has been ordained, it has been a dream of his to be a part of a Catholic high school.
"I think this is going to be one of the greatest high schools in the history of the state," Coleman said.
Chad Masters, Tolton athletics director, encouraged everyone to attend the Trailblazers' first volleyball game Monday. The Trailblazers girls' team plays at 6 p.m. at Columbia Catholic Elementary School, 903 Bernadette Drive.