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Ramiro Sanchez, a sixth-grade student at Roseland Elementary School in southwest Santa Rosa, knows he's one lucky young man.

In the fall, Ramiro will cross over Highway 101 from the west side of town and step into what used to be Ursuline High School, a private all-girls campus with rich educational resources that nurtured student aspirations for generations.

The 130-year-old parochial school closed last year, and the Catholic sisters who own the property will be leasing it to the Roseland School District.

For many of the people who are supporting the opening of Roseland Collegiate Prep, the time has come to feed Ramiro's ambitions.

"When I grow up, I want to be a doctor," Ramiro said. "This campus . . . it's more advanced than other campuses . . . I'm going to be one of the founding students."

On Thursday evening, Ramiro and his parents attended a jubilant celebration of the newest addition to the Roseland district. Much like the district's high school, Roseland University Prep, the new campus is aimed at offering students a college-prep education.

The school will begin with 60 seventh-graders in two classrooms and add grades each year after that until it reaches the 12th grade. The Ursuline sisters plan to rent the space the new school needs as it grows.

The first classrooms will be on the second floor of the main building that also houses the administrative offices. The inside of the building has been painted a shade of olive green, and flags of the nation's best universities hang from hallway ceilings.

The event, held near the front entrance of the administration building, brought together local elected officials and Roseland district supporters, as well as Roseland district staff, board members, teachers, students and their parents.

Visitors, drenched in afternoon sunlight, sipped mineral water along with chardonnay and pinot noir donated by the Francis Ford Coppola Winery as recorded big-band jazz tunes played.

The scene contrasted with the gloom that enveloped the campus 16 months ago, when the Sisters of Ursuline -- the religious order that headed the school -- announced they would be closing the school because of a financial crisis brought on by declining enrollment. From 2000 to 2010, enrollment fell from 400 to 281.

Sisters Christine Van Swearingen, Joanne Abrams and Dianne Baumunk, the three sisters who represent the local Ursuline order, attended Thursday's event, where they were applauded, thanked and heralded as heroes.

It was financial difficulty that forced the closure of the school, Baumunk said. The order decided to offer the campus to the Roseland district because its focus on educating poor, disadvantaged students was in more in line with the mission of the order, she said.

"This does get us back to our mission and we're delighted to have Roseland here," Baumunk said.

In addition to the building, the facilities include fully equipped classrooms, a computer lab and a full library.

Gail Ahlas, superintendent of the Roseland district, said that the new campus would help meet the needs of the growing district, which currently has a waiting list of 100 students from seventh to 12th grade.

Baumunk said the rent amount is still in negotiation because the new school has not yet finalized the footprint of space it needs.

"They're really only going to be renting a part of it," she said. "You don't want to be charging for a part of the building they're not going to be using."

"We're going to try our best to have the legacy of Ursuline carry on," Ahlas said during the event, directing her statement to the sisters, who she referred to as "angels from heaven."

During the event, students from Roseland University Prep, or RUP, offered tours to visitors, which included RUP teachers. Some RUP students and teachers were awestruck by the setting of the campus, its trees, courtyards and educational facilities.

In contrast, the RUP campus is a warehouse along a semi-industrial stretch of Sebastopol Road.

"At RUP, we do a huge amount with very little," said Katie Price, an RUP English teacher. The students at the new school, she said, will "feel like they matter and their education matters."

Ramiro said his new campus is not close to his home in west Santa Rosa. But he said the commute will be worth it because "a lot of schools don't have what this school has."

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com.