Two years ago, Immaculate Heart Central School saw enrollment climb after watching it plummet for five years along with most other private Catholic schools.
Two weeks into the school year, IHC is less than 1 percent shy of its 572-student enrollment goal and 3 percent shy of last years enrollment.
That breaks down into 263 pupils from kindergarten through sixth grade and 305 students from seventh through 12th grade. Additionally, 112 children are enrolled in St. John Bosco prekindergarten, compared with the 105 children enrolled last year.
There is a waiting list for the 3-year-old prekindergarten program.
The best long-term predictor of enrollment health is the younger grades, Executive System Administrator Christopher E. Hornbarger said.
He said he kept this years enrollment goal modest because he was expecting many military families to move out of the area over the summer.
The military attrition turned out to be a bigger number than we thought, he said. We lost close to 50 kids, net.
As new families are shipped in throughout the year, he said, he is cautiously optimistic that enrollment will be closer to last years 586 students.
The district gained 45 students who are new to the school this year, thanks to a heavy marketing and advertisement strategy in local television, print and radio in the spring and summer.
I was anxious this year, knowing what we were facing, he said. We just focus on building good programs and enrollment will follow.
Because of high enrollment in the kindergarten for the second year in a row, IHC was able to hire a third kindergarten teacher, reducing classroom sizes to about 13 children per class. Larger kindergarten enrollment now means a larger high school enrollment in eight years. However, as younger families start moving into the area, Mr. Hornbarger also is expecting to see a dip in high school enrollment which has the highest tuition rates within the next few years.
Last years fundraising efforts helped to alleviate the effects the drop in enrollment might create.
By reaching out to alumni though the new school magazines or postcards, the school has been receiving support, emotionally and financially, from those who went to IHC years ago.
Thats friend-raising, Mr. Hornbarger said. Its rebuilding relationships. Now all of a sudden, youre connecting with 4,000 to 5,000 alumni. Focus on building new relationships and donations will follow.
Better relationships with alumni have led to better scholarship opportunities for students as well.
Mr. Hornbarger said an alumnus contacted through a postcard sent $10,000 to pay for a students tuition, just as an alumnus helped pay for his.
We appreciate the generosity of so many benefactors and alumni who understand our mission and have provided resources to help meet our goal, Junior/Senior High School Principal Lisa A. Parsons said in a news release.