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IHC unveils strategic plan to increase enrollment

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Immaculate Heart Central School created its first strategic plan to forge a clear path away from some of the trends other Catholic schools are facing.

IHC revealed Monday the five-year plan that includes new programs at all school levels to increase its visibility in the community and boost enrollment.

“We have to corner the market and continue to promote the good that comes from the school,” Executive System Administrator Christopher E. Hornbarger said.

He said he hopes to see a yearly growth rate of 2 to 6 percent. Currently, 561 students are enrolled in the school.

“We’ve been successful over the past two years in stabilizing enrollment,” he said. He said if the school has good programs and keeps tuition affordable, enrollment will follow.

In addition to adding junior kindergarten to the preschool, adding a Spanish program to kindergarten and first grade and pursuing a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program at the junior/senior high school, the high school literacy and fine arts program will be enhanced and a young entrepreneur program added over the next several years.

High school Principal Lisa A. Parsons said these programs create an opportunity for students who are not interested in STEM courses.

“I see it being a nice partnership with the school community, the colleges and businesses in this area,” she said about the entrepreneur program. “I’ve seen excitement from students about programs with real-world value.”

She said she hopes it will grow into a food service program in which students run the day-to-day operations and learn to secure resources.

Technology will have a presence at the elementary level as well. Principal Gary F. West hopes to have a Smart Board in every classroom by 2018.

“My hope is by next school year, even over the next few months, we’ll get some of those Smart Boards,” he said.

The elementary school does not have any Smart Boards but uses Smart Carts, mobile boards that can be used in multiple classrooms.

The principals said interest in the school has increased since they announced the youth Spanish program and high school STEM program in mid-March.

“We’ve seen a big increase in the number of parents who are expressing an interest in Immaculate Heart,” Mrs. Parsons said. “We’re excited about the process.”

Mr. West said the pilot program for junior kindergarten will have two classes rather than the one originally planned.

Mr. Hornbarger said the new plan follows the old mission statement of following the Catholic faith.

“Our mission statement hasn’t changed because our mission hasn’t changed,” he said. “It’s everything. That’s the foundation for all of our programs. We start each day with a prayer.”

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