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Local Catholic High School coasts through pandemic despite nationwide numbers

Bishop LeBlond's enrollment is increasing throughout the last several years.

Posted: May 12, 2021 12:07 PM
Updated: May 13, 2021 12:00 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Local Catholic High School Bishop LeBlond has survived quite well through the pandemic unlike hundreds of other Catholic schools that are shutting down nationwide.

Staff at LeBlond say in-person fundraising took a big hit this year, but the school was able to find other ways to support financially.

“Memorials were really big for us this year. I think people felt drawn to education, they felt drawn to the memories that they had," said Bishop LeBlond Principal Ann Lachowitzer. "I think you know just being in the pandemic and everything being out of sorts and different, people were looking for something to connect to. And so we did. We were able to serve a few more students because we did have some very generous donors out there who stepped because of them losing a loved one, unfortunately.”

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, at least 209 of the country's nearly 6,000 Catholic schools have closed due to the pandemic; a year that left many families unable to pay tuition and the church without extra funds to cover the difference.  

For Bishop LeBlond, staff said they were financially stable to assist families struggling to pay tuition because of the pandemic.

“We haven’t seen any students leave due to financial hardships. In fact, we had a couple of our students come that we’re able to help them out financially," said Lachowitzer. “What we did recognize though is a higher need for student assistance with tuition and I think a lot of that is due to some of the income-loss some of the families injured because of the pandemic.”

According to the National Catholic Educational Association, enrollment fell 6.4% nationwide, the largest single-year decline since the NCEA began tracking the data in the 1970s.  

A majority of the decline in enrollment and closing down of Catholic Schools comes from urban areas, but for St. Joseph, Principal Ann Lachowitzer says enrollment has gone up the last few years. "At LeBlond actually, we’re graduating a class of 29 seniors and our incoming freshmen, we’re already at 48."

Ann gives credit to the enrollment numbers increasing to the newly revitalized St. Joseph Catholic Schools Board plan which Ann will take over as President starting July 1. 

The current enrollment at Bishop LeBlond High School is 168 students, and over 500 students combined in the four St. Joseph Catholic Schools. 

Tuition for 2021-2022 is $6,480 regardless of religious affiliation.

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