By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Catholic school enrollment continues to grow in the Diocese of Davenport. School Tuition Organizations (STO) and other financial aid have helped attract and retain students, noted several Catholic school principals. Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School in Muscatine also added a sixth-grade class to its building.
Overall, enrollment has increased by nine students for the 2016-17 school year. The elementary level gained 20 students while the secondary level lost 11 students overall. Lee Morrison, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, said this is the fourth consecutive year that enrollment grew. “Our parents are pleased with our educational direction and continue to send their children to Catholic schools. This reinforces the values that are taught day in and day out.” He noted that STOs help enrollment by making Catholic education more affordable.
Rose Miller, bookkeeper at All Saints Catholic School in Davenport, said the STOs and Embracing Our Future, which provides additional Scott County Catholic school tuition assistance, have made a difference. “So many families would not be here without that assistance.” (See separate story on STOs in this edition.)
All Saints gained 15 students in grades K-8 this academic year. Principal Jeanne Von Feldt said there is no magic answer for the school’s enrollment growth. But she believes the celebration of diversity and the loving, accepting, family atmosphere draw people to the school. “Our parents are our best ambassadors…. We develop the whole individual.”
Teachers are seeking new ways to teach and help their students while maintaining a solid education, the principal said. The school is supported by the Davenport parishes of Holy Family, Sacred Heart Cathedral, St. Alphonsus, St. Mary and St. Anthony. Von Feldt visits the various parishes to let people know about the school. She and her staff attend many All Saints events to show the students and parents that they care about its success. She believes in visibility.
Other schools had smaller increases and some had decreases.
Enrollment at Prince of Peace Catholic School in Clinton was down by 13 students in the high school and three at the elementary level. Principal Nancy Peart said, “Our smallest elementary class entered high school this fall. So the difference between that class and our graduating class is responsible for the decrease in high school enrollment. In the elementary, we have had families move out of the area with the closing of some businesses. … This Catholic Schools Week we celebrate not just our academic achievements, but celebrate the students and parents who attend and recruit for our schools.”
For complete enrollment statistics, see this week’s print or e-edition.