Our Opinion: Helias works to reverse trend of declining enrollment

Count Catholic education among the institutions harmed by the economic downturn.

Catholic schools — with their tradition of academic excellence — long have served as an attractive educational option in Central Missouri.

But as families are forced to trim household budgets, the tuition and transportation costs associated with parochial education have taken a toll on enrollment.

Nationally, the number of parish elementary schools has dropped by nearly half since the mid-1960s.

And, at Helias Catholic High School, the 770 students now enrolled reflect a decline from the 915 students in 2004.

In an effort to reverse that trend, Helias will showcase some of its many offerings during an informal open house, to be held from 6-8:30 p.m. on Nov. 14.

Among the features will be science lab exercises, debate team practice, cheer and dance team routines, and poetry and book club discussions. In addition, the campus ministry will host activities in the chapel.

In an effort to attract students, Helias plans to increase involvement in the Catholic elementary schools.

“Helias should be a natural progression,” said Stan Ochsner, dean of students.

He also pointed out more families are allowing their child to make the decision on where to attend high school.

Consequently, the “Crusader for a Day” event – previously open to eighth- graders – this year will be expanded to include seventh graders.

Among its many assets, Helias student ambassadors perhaps are the school’s greatest strength.

Ambassador Alex Heislen said: “I’ve made friends I will always have, teachers I’ll never forget and, I know no matter what, I will always be able to come home and be a part of the Helias community.”

Like home, Helias ultimately is a school where students feel like they belong.


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