By Guest Blogger SueAnn Howell
With public schools closed to in-person learning for most of the past year, many families have turned to Catholic schools to keep their children’s education on track and in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like many parents, Anne and Scott Douglass struggled to decide what was best for their children when the school year began last fall. Their youngest daughter, a third-grader, had previously been enrolled – and was doing well – in a special needs program at one of the Triad Catholic schools, which offered in-person instruction. But with three daughters in public school, the Douglasses had to rely on remote learning for them and found it less effective than they’d hoped for. So the family, which is Methodist, moved one daughter in November, and another started in March.
The Douglass family is so happy that their children have adapted well and come home with smiles and stories from their school days. The family has also seen how a positive learning environment that also focuses on character development and community engagement encourages their children’s love for the school. On top of this, they say communication and management of COVID-19 protocols have been excellent.
There are hundreds of families like the Douglasses across the Charlotte diocese. Catholic and non-Catholic alike, these families have made the same choice – boosting enrollment in the Diocese of Charlotte’s 19 schools by 4.4 percent this year and increasing the demand for next year. Some schools already have waiting lists and are evaluating how many classes they can add while keeping a watchful eye on maintaining low student-teacher ratios. Included in the 19 schools are six in the Triad area: Bishop McGuinness in Kernersville; Our Lady of Grace and St. Pius X in Greensboro; Our Lady of Mercy and St. Leo in Winston-Salem; and Immaculate Heart of Mary in High Point.
Their mission? To proclaim the Good News of the Gospel and to provide a religious and academic program that allows each student to develop spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, physically and socially, so that each is prepared to live and serve in a changing society as a self-respecting citizen.
And they are known for high academic achievement. All 19 schools are fully accredited by Cognia (formerly AdvancEd), and 99 percent of graduates from the three high schools (Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School, Christ the King High School in Huntersville, and Charlotte Catholic High School) go on to higher education.
Enrollment overall is the highest it’s been in five years, with more than 7,200 students – up from 6,896 students last school year. Thirteen out of the 19 Catholic schools are seeing increases year over year. Despite increasing demand, class sizes at all schools in the diocese remain capped to keep student-teacher ratios low.
And as with the Douglass family, more non-Catholic students are enrolling in the diocese’s schools. Typically, non-Catholics account for 15 to 20 percent of enrollment, but this year school officials say that number is up to 25 to 30 percent.
All 19 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Charlotte are accepting applications for the 2021-’22 year. For enrollment information and to find a school near you, go online to the school’s website (linked above) or call the school directly.
- Sponsored by Piedmont Area Catholic Schools