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More than two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s good news for local Catholic education – three of the Diocese’s four Catholic high schools have an increase in enrollment this academic year over that of last year.

As of press time, Aquinas High School, San Bernardino, has 603 students enrolled this year compared to 575 last year; Xavier College Preparatory High School, Palm Desert, has 570 students this year compared to 555 last year; and St. Jeanne de Lestonnac High School, Temecula, has 125 students this year compared to 107 last year. Notre Dame High School, Riverside, reported a slight decline in enrollment over last school year.

The schools are excited to welcome the new students to their campuses and they attribute the growth to a variety of factors.

“St. Jeanne is blessed with an increasing enrollment due to the growing reputation of our school’s charism, quality teachers, and accompaniment of the students we serve,” said St. Jeanne de Lestonnac Marketing and Communications Manager James Baumann. “We are finding that parents are seeking an environment that promotes Catholic values coupled with academic rigor and a safe loving environment.”

Reggie Rover, Dynamic Engagement Specialist at Xavier Prep, said that enrollment at Xavier was up mostly due to word-of-mouth recommendations, social media efforts and a reputation for strong academics. “We are excited to have many transfer students from last year (mid-year) and this year. We believe this represents the education, care and experience we provide students at Xavier as opposed to other local schools where they do not receive these features in the capacity they were hoping for,” she said.

New students seem to be coming from a range of other schooling backgrounds that may differ depending on what grade you’re looking at. For example, Aquinas High School Director of Admissions/Marketing Nick Karavedas told the BYTE that most new ninth graders come from partner K-8 Catholic schools, while 10th-12th grade students tend to be mainly transfers from public school, from families who wanted a better education for their child than what they were getting at public school.

Some of the high schools are undergoing construction projects as their schools expand. St. Jeanne de Lestonnac broke ground on a $15 million new building last June, which is scheduled to open August 2023. Aquinas High School has finished several smaller renovation projects this summer and recently broke ground on two new classroom buildings that are slated to be finished in time for the 2023-2024 school year (see page 9).

In general, schools are ready to begin the school year and continue a trajectory of growth and improvement. To help accomplish this, Aquinas High School has given this school year the theme of Raise the Standard. “We’re seeking to raise the standard in everything we do: faith (focusing that much more on our relationship with Christ), academics, athletics, the arts, upgrades to the campus facility, virtually every aspect of what we do,” said Karavedas.

“This year we welcomed 103 new students consisting of freshmen and transfers,” said Katie Kerr, Marketing and PR Specialist at Notre Dame High School. “We look forward to a great school year and have some exciting events coming up including a week full of activities during ‘Holy War’ in September, raising awareness for breast cancer throughout the month of October with ‘Pinktober’ and bringing the community together with our ‘Chili Cook Off/Car Show/Corn Hole Tournament’ in November. Together, we are Notre Dame!”