NORTH LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A Catholic private school being built in North Las Vegas is hoping to use a new model to educate an underserved student population in Clark County.
"We are looking at the administration building on the side the entrance to the school is coming off of Vandermeer," Father Thomas von Behren said looking over the campus still under construction.
You still have to use your imagination to see Cristo Rey St. Viator College Preparatory High School.
Its mission of providing economically challenged students with a private education is easy to understand.
"We do not want someone's financial situation to be a hindrance to going to our school," Father von Behren said.
The model is proven by dozens of other schools in the Cristo Rey network that have turned out college graduates like Brittany Davenport. She's a product of the Minneapolis campus.
"Cristo Rey means so much to me. It changed my life; it changed my friend's life, my classmates' life and it is going to change these kids lives," Davenport said.
Cristo Rey reduces tuition at its private Catholic schools.
Without that Davenport says she may not be where she is today.
"It was the fact that I was raised by a single mom and having the opportunity to get a good education," Davenport said.
What makes Cristo Rey different is the school puts students to work in real-life, with work-study partners paying a portion of students' tuition.
Those who have already signed on with the North Las Vegas campus, like the De Castroverde Law Group, say they see a tremendous benefit to the community.
"It is a special opportunity to help those in need. They are in need of mentors, they are in need of direction," Alex De Castroverde said.
Davenport, a UNLV graduate, said it was that work-study program that provided not just work experience but the boost of confidence she needed to continue with her education.
"I'm 14, and I am working with this 27-year-old or this 30-year-old person," Davenport said of her high school experience.
Father von Behren, who will oversee the school, is no stranger to Las Vegas education.
He served as president of Bishop Gorman for seven years.
Father von Behren says while they share a faith-based curriculum, there is one big difference.
"The tuition did not allow it to be open to all students," Father von Behren said. "This school it is going to be open to all student.
While construction workers continue building the campus, the father and other school leaders are reaching out seeking applications for the freshman class who will walk through the doors next fall.
"It is opening doors for these students that have never been opened before," Father von Behren said.
The school is hoping to accept 125 freshmen for the upcoming school year. Interested students can apply on the school's website.