Amid an unusual school year, some Catholic schools are experiencing a most welcome boost.
St. Brendan Catholic School in Bothell saw a huge spike in enrollment interest from April to August. St. Brendan received 80 new inquiries during that time—an impressive feat for a school with an overall enrollment of 215 students.
“I think a big part of it was due to last spring when we had the pandemic and our teachers were able to pivot on a dime and dive right into distance learning, all without having a playbook,” said Catherine Shumate, principal of St. Brendan. “We were able to expand on that for this year. We spent the whole summer revamping our programs. We listened to our parents and made changes. I imagine that would explain some of the increased interest.”
A similar increase was seen at Assumption Catholic School in Bellingham for the 2020-2021 school year. In recent years, Assumption has enrolled 15-20 new students at the beginning of each school year.
This year, the school enrolled 47.
“We saw a little bit of new enrollment last spring, but most of it has been since the second week of July,” Dan Anderson, principal of Assumption, recalled. Assumption announced it would open for in-person instruction within the guidelines of the health department on the school’s social media. “Word just got out. Our phone was ringing off the hook.”
Both Assumption and St. Brendan were limited in the number of new students they could accept in order to maintain safe social distancing practices. Fulcrum Foundation grants helped the schools prepare for a new kind of school year.
St. Brendan received a School Partnership Grant from Fulcrum in January for new ActivPanels, a type of smart board technology. The ActivPanels have helped St. Brendan teachers reach students in the classroom and at home simultaneously.
“Those boards have been such a blessing, especially for this environment when we are really dependent on our technology,” Catherine said. “As challenging as COVID is, our Catholic community is so amazing. Seeing how our community has come together just keeps me moving forward!”
Meanwhile, Assumption was one of the first schools to apply for and receive aid from Fulcrum’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. The grant supplied enough funds for an iPad, tripod, and wireless headset for every teacher to support a synchronous learning model for classrooms split between in-person learners and at-home learners. Assumption was also able to bring on more staffers to screen people entering the building for COVID through Fulcrum funding.
“We looked at what our greatest needs were,” Dan explained. “Fulcrum approved us for the grant in about three weeks. We were still trying to figure out our budget, so that was a huge benefit for us to suddenly know that we had support for all our needs. We are so grateful to Fulcrum!”