Enrollment is on the rise in NOLA Catholic high schools

Nick Ducote

A recent study showed that the rise of ACT scores and quality of public school education in New Orleans has forced many locals to question if private schools are
worth it.
However, private schools in the city have been taking extra strides to improve the quality of their education.
According to the Archdiocese of New Orleans, during the 2004-05 year, there were over 49,494 students in New Orleans catholic schools, and a total of 37,054 this school year.
Tony Bonura, admissions director for De La Salle High School, points out why people are drawn to the school instead of the other Catholic schools in the New Orleans area.
“We’re in a great part of town, and new diverse families are moving here from out of town and are looking for a co-ed Catholic school experience, not a single gender experience. That’s why we’ve had a 26 percent increase in enrollment over the past three years. We’ve reflected the diversity and change in this city,” Bonura said.
De La Salle also started the “classrooms of the future initiative.” The school looked at research from the Department of Labor, and found that 30 percent of this generation’s jobs haven’t even been created yet. They’ve created classrooms as labs for students to expand on collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity.
The Clarion Herald reported that De La Salle had over 400 students and is the only Catholic co-ed high schools in New Orleans. Bonura is anticipating over 600 students by next year.
Rummel High School, an all boys school, gets 92 percent of its student body from East Jefferson Parish, according to Casey Cadella, admissions director. Rummel also boasts a specialized, preprofessional program for its students.
Cadella said this unique hands-on classroom environment is helping make Rummel and its students even more prepared for the real world.
“We’re the first Catholic school in New Orleans to offer a pre-professional program. It’s a four-year elective in engineering, biomedical science, and pre-law. This is for students to get an opportunity to see if they want to practice law, go into engineering or the different jobs in the medical field,” Cadella said.
Brian Kitchen, admissions director for Holy Cross High School, has been with the school for over 13 years and went through the post-Katrina recovery process.
According to Kitchen, the rebuilding of the school buildings wasn’t the hard part.
“After Katrina, a perception research survey said we were a good school with a great athletic reputation, but not academically as comparable as other schools, so we focused more on academics. We opened up 21 college courses, 14 advance placement classes, and seven dual enrollment programs. We hired nine Ph.D.s in the classroom, and started a laptop program which students share with each other,” Kitchen said.
According to the Archdiocese of New Orleans, catholic school students average 23.3 on the ACT, while the public schools average 19.4. Admissions directors at each of the schools interviewed said that they have a 99 percent graduation rate.