It was great to see so many of you at Open House last night. It was truly a special evening. The school staff worked very hard in preparation; I hope that you appreciated their efforts, and the myriad gifts they bring to Holy Family school each and every day.
As Catholic Schools’ Week comes to a close, I want to reflect with you on the state of Catholic schooling in a broader sense. While Holy Family School continues to thrive in many ways, it is a different situation for Catholic schools on a broader scale. Looking back over the last 50-60 years, Catholic Education in our country has gone through significant changes. In the mid-60’s, Catholic Education was at its peak in terms of enrollment, with just over 5 million students; today, Catholic Education has a national enrollment of just under 3 million, despite an increase in the general, as well as Catholic, population. On the one hand, many schools like Holy Family continue to grow and prosper as others struggle to keep their doors open.
In our own archdiocese enrollment numbers have been steady for about 5 years, after several years of decline. What has accounted for Catholic schools’ loss in market share? There have been a number of factors, and number one is finances. As the cost of schooling increased, fewer families were able to afford it. Also, at the time of the Second Vatican Council in the mid-60’s, many women and men religious left the field of education to work in other ministries; as a result, many questioned the Catholic identity in schools. Quality was another factor that impacted Catholic schools at that time.
Despite the turbulence that preceded us, many schools like Holy Family continue to thrive today. Each school in this circumstance can identify its own reasons for success. For Holy Family, from my perspective, it’s the unique combination of staff dedication, parent participation, and student commitment. To me these blend together in ways that create powerful results. A school community like ours will achieve great things whenever our shared values are a priority for all.
As I look over the horizon, there is much to be excited about: our new strategic plan; continued implementation of the Common Core; our developing technology program; a playground/classroom renovation project; securing our school perimeter and the implementation of additional safety measures; our budding partnership with Our Lady of Guadalupe School; a new golf tournament in the fall. It’s the combination of tried and true, with exciting and innovative steps forward that define our growth.
I look forward with great anticipation to the days ahead. I hope you do too.
Frank Montejano, Ed.D.