Welcoming new and prospective families in a pandemic

By Dr. Daryl Hagan, Superintendent of Catholic Schools

Special to The Message

Nathan and Andrea Bradford are members of St. Joseph Parish in Jasper and have two children, Aaliyah and Luis. Last year at this time, the Bradfords attended Holy Trinity Catholic School’s Kindergarten Inquiry Night, Take-a-Tour Tuesday, and the Come and See. The annual events enable prospective families to get a sense of the climate and culture of the school, as well as meet with teachers and the principal. 

Nathan, left, and Andrea Bradford, members of St. Joseph Parish in Jasper, are shown with their son Luis and daughter Aaliyah. After visiting Holy Trinity Catholic School, the Bradford’s enrolled Luis and Aaliyah as students. They are thriving at Holy Trinity. Submitted photo

The Bradfords enrolled their children at Holy Trinity Catholic School this year. Andrea Bradford said, “At the time we made our decision, our son Luis (Kindergarten) was imitating everything he saw and heard. I wanted him to imitate prayers and holiness. I wanted Luis to be able to see the Catholic faith from his teachers and peers. I wanted prayer and the Catholic faith to be a norm and a joy for him.

Catholic schools within the diocese are beginning to ramp up their efforts to welcome more families like the Bradfords for the second semester of the school year, as well as for the 2021-2022 school year. 

School enrollment efforts during the pandemic

While we will not proceed with a formal Take-A-Tour Tuesday event for all 26 Catholic schools in November, each school will create an opportunity to safely welcome new and prospective families to see firsthand the benefits of Catholic education. Some schools, by appointment, will offer a modified open house before school, after school and/or in the evening. Virtual Open Houses are being planned in numerous schools. Schools are considering providing events on the school grounds during the day – but outside to ensure the safety of visitors and our students who are inside. I encourage you to contact your local Catholic school and learn more about the events they are planning to welcome you.

Indiana School Choice Scholarship Program (Vouchers)

One factor for families that can be challenging is the cost of Catholic education. Indiana understands the rights of parents to choose the best education for their children. The state provides children access to quality educational opportunities. Indiana's Choice Scholarship Program, commonly referred to as the voucher program, provides scholarships to eligible Indiana students to offset tuition costs at participating schools. All 26 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Evansville are participating schools. Students must satisfy both household-income requirements and student-eligibility criteria to qualify.

For those families who might want to apply to a Catholic school for the second semester, the voucher may be available to you – and the window to apply for a voucher opens on Nov. 1, 2020. For families who are considering applying for the 2021-2022 school year, the application window opens in February 2021. For more information about the voucher and/or other financial aid, please contact your Catholic school. 

Like the Bradford family, your family is encouraged to contact your local Catholic school and discover how they are safely handling events for prospective families. This time next year, your family might have a similar experience. 

Andrea Bradford concludes, “Both of the children are doing very well academically in school. We got their first report cards yesterday, and I was extremely pleased with both children receiving (the) highest grades in most areas. Both of the children’s teachers have been extremely supportive and loving to our entire family! They truly care about the students.”