On Monday and Tuesday, May 10 and 11, the school administration met with groups of parents for Conversation and Community events. These events have become a staple of our school calendar, and allow members of our community to ask questions and hear updates about the school. Here is a recap of the events this spring:
WHAT WILL THE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR LOOK LIKE IN REGARD TO COVID?
- We are currently evaluating a 5-day schedule rotation and a 6-day rotation. There are benefits to both. As of now, both faculty and students are favoring the 5-day schedule. We will communicate our decision over the summer.
- We plan to move the Junior School athletics back to the middle of the day, and we are confident we can do that with Covid restrictions, particularly as they are starting to lighten.
- Lunch will most likely be moving back to the Dining Hall. If the St. Louis County Department of Public Health allows for three feet of social distancing. It is our deepest hope, and it will also free up the gym for more programming.
- Part of the schedule change reflects our desire to return to all-school Mass on Fridays. If the County moves to three feet of social distancing and the Archdiocese raises the threshold of capacity, we can have all-school mass. With Friday Mass, we will return to coat and tie.
- When the County mandated a shut down last Spring, we pivoted quickly to make sure all students had laptops and could learn from home. We knew we needed to be flexible, and we wanted to make sure all students could be in contact and be prepared.
- We’ve discovered a number of challenges – some we foresaw and others we didn’t.
- Additionally, we are counteracting these challenges with Securely which allows us to control what your sons are doing on their computers at school. You can also take over administrative controls of the computer at your home. You will receive reports on student activity. We are finding ways to continue to improve in order to use technology in a virtuous way.
- We hope to partner with you in the monitoring of these computers.
- We’ve asked that all computers be returned at the end of this term so that IT can perform maintenance over the summer.
- Another software program we use is called Dyknow, (classroom management tool) and it allows our faculty to monitor the students in real time, which helps with test taking. Our faculty will have professional development on this program before school starts so that we can utilize all of its features.
- We are having discussions on cell phone use and strategies in order to limit their use. We want to put boundaries on the use of cell phones. We are considering not allowing cell phones for Junior School students.
- If you have any further questions about technology, you can contact our Director of Technology, Gabe Santa Cruz, at 314.434.3690, ext. 120.
- Lockers: The reason we stopped using lockers was out of an abundance of caution when there were still so many unknowns about the spreading of COVID and concerns over high-touch surfaces. We are reevaluating and working on a plan to use them safely.
- Lockers could be back in circulation as well as ping pong tables and foosball tables.
- This is an important part of socialization at Priory. We are optimistic that restrictions will be lifted, and we will continue to think of ways in which to help foster social activities for our students.
- Access to campus has been very minimal this year. It was not a choice we made, but public health policy. It has been detrimental to our community, and it seems likely we will at least be able to host some outdoor events. We aren’t sure about indoor events yet. We are going to open up as much as we can. More information to come.
- Vaccines will not be mandated unless the state tells us we have to in order to stay open. We believe it’s your family’s choice on whether or not students get vaccinated. That being said, the higher the vaccination rate, the quicker we get back to “normal.”
- If a student or faculty member is fully vaccinated, they would not be required to quarantine in most cases.
WHAT ARE THE ENROLLMENT PROJECTIONS FOR THE 2021-22 SCHOOL YEAR AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO CONTINUE ENROLLMENT EFFORTS?
- Enrollment Management is challenging for all of the Catholic, private and independent schools in the St. Louis area right now, and that certainly includes Priory. It’s a concerning trend and it has prompted us to determine where to focus some goals our Strategic Planning process. We are optimistic that the Strategic Plan will help address these trends.
- This is the lowest enrollment nationwide since the 1970s. There is a declining population of those interested in Catholic education.
- Our current enrollment:
- 34 7th graders
- 4 new 9th graders
- 5 extraordinary admission (outside of 7th/9th grade) students
- 7 students in the pipeline
- The Enrollment Management team is working diligently over the summer, and we have an excellent team in place.
- We’ve had 216 people visit our campus during these non-traditional Covid times.
- We’ve hosted mini open houses all year long – on weekends and evenings. Those small gatherings have been fruitful.
- Our first Digital Marketing Campaign was a success and provided us with strong data. Our plan is to expand the length of the campaign for the next school year – beginning in August and going through January.
- We are now operating with a rolling admissions process.
- We will be doing some extensive qualitative and quantitative research analysis this summer to help us learn more.
- Our Student, Parent and Alumni Ambassadors have also become a huge asset to our Enrollment process.
- We have no intention of dropping any school programming. We are going to do everything we can to continue our athletic, academic, human and spiritual programming.
LOTS TO CELEBRATE
- We’ve been able to provide on-campus learning since August, and we were one of the only schools to begin the year five days a week in person if the family chose that option.
- Our Capital Campaign is progressing.
- We’ve been working internally over the past six months to get the project ready to go.
- We hope to have the construction documents completed by November with a possible start late this fall after it is approved by the Monastic community.
- Project is estimated at about $10.5 million.
- It includes a complete renovation of the Junior School and the science wing as well as a beautiful outdoor space, and community spaces that all students, faculty, alumni and families use.
- It should help with our Enrollment efforts and recruitment.
- It will be transformative for all students and bring a sense of community to all.
- We will share an update later this summer.
- We are invested in intellectual formation, but also human and spiritual development.
- The Internship Program we began two years ago where a student shadows a current parent, former parent or alumnus was a hit and we plan to continue to grow that program as Covid wants. It is a meaningful and transformative program. Will continue to build our relationships with our families and alumni.
- Spiritual formation – return to weekly mass, retreats, confessions and assemblies. We will come out of this experience stronger.
- The college admissions process has changed a lot in the last few years.
- Colleges and universities are moving to test optional during this admissions season.
- There’s a great pressure for students to distinguish themselves outside of their academics. We need helping in figuring out what we should be prioritizing in terms of sports, club sports, extracurricular activities and the amount of homework students have.
- Our goal is always to have great college outcomes which fit each student’s needs and are individualized.
- Both of our college counselors, Beth Collier and Nikki Hostnik, where honored by the students and chosen to receive the Shield Yearbook Dedication for their contribution to the success and well-being of the senior class. This really says a lot about their commitment to the school and the students.
- We are anticipating with the new schedule the Advisory system will enhance a deeper sense of community.
- With the Junior School and High School students together – it becomes a big brother and little brother mentoring opportunity.
- Two years ago, we hired a retreat coordinator, Courtney Rockamann, and she is working with the Chaplaincy team to create a cohesive 6-year retreat experience.
- Our plans are to grow the Tutoria program. It is essential to the school’s identity. It was challenging this year with Covid, but our hope for next year and beyond is for it to be very fruitful.
- We embrace the opportunity for the students to be with their class and focus on God, community and each other. It’s very meaningful and valuable.
- Prior to Covid, we started a Sports Information Communicator position for students, which would satisfy their athletic requirement. Just as the pandemic hit, it was starting to take off. We hope to return to utilizing students in this way in order to share sports updates in real time.
- We are discussing ways in our Strategic Planning Process in which we can expand AP and college credits
- We are also expanding our Internship program
- We are studying and actively having conversations about how we can enhance the 9th grade entry point and make it more attractive for students to choose us at that point.