LONDON GROVE -- Assumption BVM School has increased enrollment by 30 percent this year, and part of that jump is from kids who were formerly at St. Patrick School in Kennett Square.
St. Patís was closed at the end of this past school year under orders from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, leaving parents to find a new place for their children. Another local parochial school, St. Cornelius in Chadds Ford, was slated for closure, but a reversal in plans changed that. It will remain open.
Assumption BVM Principal Danielle White said at least 15 more students have been added from the Kennett Square area, but there are increases from other areas as well, raising the enrollment from 185 last year to 263 this coming year. Given that the vast majority of the students come from West Grove, Avondale, Lincoln University and Landenberg and Kennett Square, it is difficult to give an exact percentage of who have landed at BVM -- a pre-K through eighth school -- as a result of the closure of St. Patís, White said. However, the addition of children from Kennett Square has jumped their percentage of the school population from between 2 and 3 percent last year to 10 percent this year.
She said the word of closures came down from the Archdiocese last January, just at the time when parents were ready to re-enroll their students for the following year. That meant it was time for them to decide whether they would transfer their sons and daughters to public school, a secular private school or another Catholic school like Assumption. At that point, the number of families inquiring about Assumption jumped from 44 in for 2011-2012 school year to 64 for the 2012-2013 school year.
One of the things parents in Kennett Square had to consider was the free busing provided by the Kennett and Avon Grove school districts. Kennett buses its districtís students to private and parochial schools as far away as St. Cornelius and Assumption, but not to Sacred Heart in Oxford. The Avon Grove School District buses to Sacred Heart and Assumption, but not to St. Cornelius.
Assumption BVM School is on State Road across from Avon Grove High School.
Regardless of how the jump in enrollment came about, Assumption nonetheless undertook plans to expand and this past summer added four classrooms in back of the main building.
The new area will accommodate sixth, seventh and eighth graders as well as a virtual classroom for math honors, Spanish and virtual field trips. The expansion also enabled the conversion of another classroom to a fine arts room, which the school wanted but did not have before.
White said she sees a major growth in maturity when students are about to enter sixth grade, and giving them their own area will give those students a new sense of pride in being middle schoolers.
The new rooms, along with a parish-sponsored football team have increased the enrollment of students in those grades.
White said she feels blessed to have more students continuing through the middle school years.
ďWe lose people in middle school, sometimes because the parents feel the kids have had their sacraments by that time and sometimes for financial reasons, but many eighth grade parents are seeing the value in Catholic education. We are an extension of what they are teaching at home,Ē she said.
Development Director Sandra Gosline added that parents send their children to Assumption and other Catholic schools because of the family atmosphere, safety, stability, Catholic schools reputation and concern for the individual.
Like White, she said she is ďthrilledĒ with the building expansion.
The school charges $3,350 per year in tuition for students in the Assumption BVM Church parish and $4,350 for others. But the parish subsidizes each student to the tune of $1,000, White said.