There is one area, however, where Saints Peter and Paul School is last among all 46 diocesan schools and that is we are the only school not to have a pre-school.
While pre-schools are seen as a natural feeder for Catholic schools, enrollment had never been an issue for the majority of our school’s 168 year history. For example, in February of 2000 we had 108 applicants for 70 kindergarten spots which was our maximum class size. When All Saints Academy opened in 2005 however, we had only 60 families sign up for that entry level grade.
It was during this time when the School Board began earnestly investigating the possibility of opening up a pre-school. With a capacity enrollment at the time of nearly 630 (35 in a class), there was literally no room in either school building to house such a program.
After much research, the Board was ready to rent space in the Community Methodist Church behind the elementary building. That proposal was scrapped, however, when our neighbors would not sign a multi-year contract renting the desired square footage to us.
In addition to All Saints, the recession of 2008, as well as issues in the Church also presented new challenges for our enrollment which had dropped to 360 last year and currently sits at 341.
Consequently, today more than ever, a pre-school is seen as a priority according to our new principal Tricia Weis ’83. "A Saints Peter and Paul Preschool program will allow children as early as four years old to experience our wonderful faith and family atmosphere, as they are introduced to in a high-quality academic program from the onset of their formal education. It is imperative that a child's first experiences are positive as they learn about Jesus, in addition to virtues such as respect and responsibility through their daily social play interactions.”
She went onto say “A preschool program will allow our youngest parishioners to flourish in confidence and self-worth, as it is our mission to set each child up for success from the moment they enter the doors of SSPP, until they graduate as 8th graders." Mrs. Weis further emphasized……. "Not to mention the opportunity to grow enrollment from a fantastic feeder program that ensures a safe and stable environment for the entire family! Diocesan data shows that schools with a preschool program sustain higher enrollment numbers overall. "
Recently the parish hired the architectural firm of Healy, Bender and Associates to examine both school buildings and suggest three possible sites for a pre-school that would open in the fall of 2021. Last week the Diocesan Buildings and Properties Commission formally approved our plan.
The next step is funding. Given restrictions imposed by Covid 19, the parish has had to cancel its annual Light the Way gathering. Last year this holiday festival generated nearly $84,000 in proceeds for our security project. A similar response this year would have gone toward funding the pre-school.
Our school is ready to launch a second round of Queen of Hearts this weekend with tickets only being sold online. Sponsored by our Advancement Board, they have determined that all proceeds from this fundraiser will be funneled to the pre-school initiative.
More information will be shared later this week about the many additional changes taking place in this round of Queen of Hearts.