Holy Family classes see extreme growth

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 31, 2005

NATCHEZ &045;&045; Sister Carmen Molina has been teaching at Holy Family Catholic School for 14 years, but she’d never faced a room full of 30 kindergartners until last week.

Years ago, she had 27 and 28, but the more recent class size has been around 20.

In the 2001-2002 school year, when IP’s pending closure started hitting other area schools, Holy Family cut their fifth- and sixth-grade classes. Third- and fourth-grades followed in 2002-2003.

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Last year, the school had 20 kindergarteners and 10 first-graders. This year, there are 30 kindergarteners and 19 first-graders.

The third-grade program is back, and a brand new 2-year-old class has started.

Enrollment overall is up from 77 to 138. Principal Rosa Demby credits the growth to advertising.

&uot;We’ve been a little more aggressively advertising,&uot; she said. &uot;Father has preached it from the pulpit every Sunday, that’s a key factor here.&uot;

Parents and teachers credit it to the education.

&uot;The educational program is solid,&uot; Wilbur Johnson said. &uot;The religious training and the discipline is good.&uot;

Johnson and his daughter graduated from the school, and now 3-year-old Christopher Lloyd Johnson is starting his education there.

&uot;We will stay as long as we possibly can,&uot; he said.

Molina said she thought parents brought their children to Holy Family for the educational foundation.

&uot;Each one of us teachers has a goal in mind and we want to meet that goal by May,&uot; she said. &uot;There’s a philosophy in this school, and we try to keep that.&uot;

Combining basic Christian values with academic skills is the basis of what she does, Molina said.

Family tradition and the small school environment are also factors parents consider when choosing Holy Family.

&uot;I went here, my sister went here,&uot; mom Carsetha Johnson said. &uot;I liked the pre-k environment and was impressed with the school.&uot;

Her daughter Jada Johnson is in kindergarten now.

For third-grader Cedric Carter Jr., Holy Family is the only place he wants to be, and dad Cedric Sr. is happy to go along.

&uot;They teach them more hands-on here,&uot; the elder Carter said. &uot;There are not as many students as in the public schools.&uot;

Some parents and teachers also questioned if the reorganization of the public schools by grade level had an affect on the numbers at Holy Family.

Though Demby said a few parents did mention not wanting to drive across town for school, she said she didn’t think the reorganization was a major factor.

The increased numbers have meant some changes at the parochial school though. Molina is searching for five more desks, and reinforcements in the form of an assistant and two grandparents are helping her in the classroom.

In the first-grade, teacher Joyce Trask has an assistant for the first time.

&uot;We are just so happy,&uot; Trask said. &uot;We were trying to keep our school open and now numbers have increased.&uot;

Now with third-grade back, Demby wants to keep adding in years to come.