Diocese of Arlington Discovers Small and Intimate Works Best for Student Recruitment

By Socci, Amanda M. | Momentum, February/March 2012 | Go to article overview

Diocese of Arlington Discovers Small and Intimate Works Best for Student Recruitment


Socci, Amanda M., Momentum


Recruiting initiative spreads the word thatfall is a great time to discover Catholic schools

If success were a destination, what path should students take to get there?

According to the Diocese of Arlington (Virginia) Office of Catholic Schools, a Catholic education is the path that leads students to "an education in the full scope of their humanity: spiritually, intellectually, morally and socially," ultimately arriving to a destination of success. This vision was set forth in a letter from Sister Bernadette McManigal, a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virginia Mary and superintendent of schools for the diocese, addressed to Catholic parents in the fall of 2011.

Sister Bernadette's letter encourages parents to "Come and see for yourself, the vehicle for your child's success- a Catholic education." The reference is meant to inspire onsite, physical visits to schools, classroom tours and opportunities to ask questions as a hands-on method of discovering Catholic education.

In the Arlington diocese, visiting Catholic schools in person is a trend that has gained momentum. In 2008, Daniel Ferris, then director of enrollment management, marketing and special projects for the Office of Catholic Schools, thought it was a good idea to formalize the process of school marketing to help schools present attractive options for parents who are shopping for schools. Ferris now is superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Providence.)

Discover Catholic Schools in the Fall

The idea became known as "Discover Catholic Schools Week" (DCSW) and it generally takes place over a two-week period in mid-November. Last year DCSW was Nov. 13 to 20, with a slogan of "Destination: Success."

According to Rene Quiros White, the current director of enrollment management, marketing and special projects for the office, "There are 50 schools including independent schools affiliated with the diocese and all schools participated to a certain extent, either through an open house or tour or by doing something."

Both White and Sister Bernadette explained that DCSW differs from National Catholic Schools Week (CSW). Catholic Schools Week is a joint effort between the National Catholic Educational Association and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that has been in place since 1974 and takes place nationwide each January. CSW, noted Sister Bernadette, is a "celebration across the country. This is the time to thank our benefactors who have provided scholarships and services, as well as [thanking] the faculty. We don't stress open houses in January because of the weather."

In contrast, DCSW is a new initiative within the Virginia diocese. "The purpose is to get the message out that the fall is a great time to collect information regarding school choice for children," stated White.

DCSW is a purposeful program that complements the natural cycle of schools and their admissions and registrations processes. The Diocese of Arlington encourages schools to offer open houses in November because that is the time of year when more people traditionally visit schools. Families who are reviewing school choices and looking at private schools for their children choose the fall as their preferred time to visit schools.

The Office of Catholic Schools promotes consistent goals of DCSW for every member school- by providing the training and resources necessary to get the school in the public eye in such a way that will help families discover the best in Catholic education. The execution of DCSW, however, is different among schools and incorporates variables such as geographic location, school size and history with DCSW.

Concentrate on Smaller Numbers of People

Epiphany Catholic School, an interparish elementary school serving preschool through eighth grade, operates from the premises of Precious Blood Catholic Church in the rural community of Culpeper, Virginia. …

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