Amongst the backdrop of the resurgent Covid-19 pandemic, rising inflation, the war in Ukraine and other humanitarian crises, our Catholic schools continue to be a light in the darkness here on Long Island and nationwide.
Catholic schools across the nation took the brave approach in the face of a worldwide pandemic of first transitioning promptly to remote learning at its start, and then quickly returning to the classroom by the beginning of the following school year. This, coupled with their overall commitment to support the needs of their communities, generated a 3.8% increase in Catholic school enrollment nationwide in the current academic year, according to a report released last month by the National Catholic Educational Association. This number encompasses elementary and high school students.
This marks the first increase in two decades and the largest recorded rise by the NCEA. To put this into context, more than 62,000 new students enrolled in Catholic schools nationwide. The gain can be attributed to pre-kindergarten-related enrollment, which jumped 33.5% year-over-year, according to the report.
Similarly, full classrooms at the pre-kindergarten level buoyed a 5.8% jump in overall Catholic elementary school enrollment this academic year, according to the report. This growth is in line with enrollment figures at our Long Island Catholic elementary schools as well, which posted its first increase (albeit less than 1%) in enrollment in two decades.
Will the expansion last? Early reports indicate that the upward trend will continue. For example, at Our Lady of Guadalupe School (OLG) in Deer Park, “new enrollments are trending very high for this time of year,” according to the Principal, Dr. Valerie Serpe. At the start of its first school year this past September, OLG had confirmed enrollment of 419 students.
“We expect that this high registration rate will continue with an enrollment number in the 450-475 range to start the 2022-23 school year,” according to Dr. Serpe. OLG expects to add three new nursery and pre-K classrooms next year, bringing the total to six early education classes to meet the demand.
It is still too early to tell if OLG’s early data portends an overall jump in enrollment for all Catholic schools across Long Island. But the momentum is there, and we need to be ready to serve. In keeping with our Foundation’ mission, Tomorrow’s Hope must continue to assist the many families in need regardless of their socioeconomic status, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our children and schools have proven to be shining stars throughout this challenging period and may they continue to be shining examples for potential newcomers.
We hope that we can count on your continued support of students, as well as our schools that provide our children with an academically rigorous education in a nurturing environment enhanced by the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church.