September 17, 2012 | Volume 87, Number 23
All but two or three of the 74 new students at St. Matthew Catholic School in Virginia Beach gather for a group photo in the school gym Sept. 11. The school, located in the Sherry Park neighborhood of Virginia Beach, now has a total of 581 students. With the students are Father John Adam Abe, pastor, left, and at right Louis L. Goldberg, principal, and Dr. Lei Ann Galvez, assistant principal and Discovery coordinator.
Diocesan Catholic schools enrollment shows marked increase
S ix Catholic schools in the Diocese of Richmond show a significant increase in enrollment this year over that of last year.
The total enrollment of all diocesan Catholic schools shows the first increase in a number of years with 7,663 students. Last year’s first day enrollment was 7,618.
The previous two years on the schools opening day remained stable while the first day enrollment of prior years consistently showed a decline from the previous year.
“This is a beginning of a trend in the right direction,” said Annette Parsons, diocesan director of the Office of Catholic Education.
“This is exciting because it shows all our various efforts on behalf of Catholic education are paying off,” she added.
“We track enrollment through the summer,” Mrs. Parsons continued. “We watch the trends and we can see which schools are about the same as last year or are ahead of the previous year’s enrollment.”
The diocesan Office of Catholic Schools will collect enrollment figures again on Oct. 1, said Francine “Frankie” Conway, superintendent of schools.
St. Matthew School in Virginia Beach experienced the largest increase with a 14.59 percent increase, from 507 to 581 students. This marked a net increase of 74 students.
“St. Matthew’s has a reputation for having a high academic standard for its students in a very disciplined environment that now includes ‘The Leader in Me’ program to help students build character and leadership skills from Pre-K through the 8th grade,” said Louis L. Goldberg, principal.
“Additionally, we strive to maintain a low tuition rate, making a first class private education affordable for our families,” he added.
Other schools with an increased enrollment on opening day include St. Joseph’s, Petersburg, with 168 (ended last year with 151); St. Anne, Bristol, with 173 (ended last year with 150; Star of the Sea Regional, 241 (ended last year with 227); Charlottesville Catholic School, 362 (ended last year with 349; and St. Bridget, Richmond, 460 (ended last year with 452).
There were Catholic schools whose enrollments had declined over last year’s figures.
Sacred Heart School in Danville opened with 146 students and had closed last year with 180.
“But we are not discouraged because the Danville school had budgeted this year’s enrollment at 115,” Mrs. Parsons explained. New enrollment is an increase of 31 students from the projection.
Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School in Virginia Beach had an enrollment of 412, a decline of 25 students from 437 at the end of last year.
Other schools with a smaller enrollment this year include Peninsula Catholic High School, Newport News, with 292, a decrease of 16 from last year’s closing enrollment of 308, and Blessed Sacrament Huguenot, Powhatan, which had 340 students or seven fewer than the closing enrollment of 347 in June.
The enrollment statistics from the Office of Catholic Schools does not include figures from the five private Catholic schools. They are Benedictine College Preparatory, Richmond; St. Gertrude High School, Richmond; St. John Neumann Academy, Blacksburg; St. Patrick, Norfolk, and Walsingham Academy, Williamsburg.