Enrollment rises at Mount Saint Mary’s | TheUnion.com

Enrollment rises at Mount Saint Mary’s

The old parquet floor still shines and reflects the light, the corridors with chrome yellow walls are spotless clean inside Mount Saint Mary’s Academy in Grass Valley.

The neat interiors of the 148-year-old school seem to testify that the school will stay open for another academic year, after a small rise in enrollment kept it financially solvent.

Mount Saint Mary’s has long suffered from declining enrollment, which put the school’s future in jeopardy last year, especially when St. Patrick’s Church cut financial ties. Ever since, parents have stepped up to publicize the school and ensured it stays open.

“We started the year with 75 students,” said Principal Sister Anne Marie Miller. “We are projected over 80 by August. It’s a small increase, but it’s healthy for us.”

Annie Pieper, a Penn Valley resident, who sends her three children to Mount Saint Mary’s, attributed the school’s success to small class sizes, the quality of instruction, the sense of community and a caring environment.

Before enrolling her children in Mount Saint Mary’s, Pieper said she talked to a teacher and two counselors at Nevada Union High School to find out how graduates from Mount Saint Mary’s perform at the high school level.

“One of the astonishing facts I uncovered was that eight of the valedictorians that year at NU came from Mount Saint Mary’s,” Pieper said. “Mount Saint Mary’s has less than 100 students and if eight of those were valedictorians by the time they were high school seniors, that told the whole story for me.”

Pieper is now part of a marketing group, consisting of parents, who publicize the school. The group puts out flyers at local preschools and arranges fundraisers for the school, Pieper said.

The school has raised more than $89,000 through fundraisers during the 2007-08 school year, Miller said. Parishioners at St. Patrick’s Church donated around $55,000, Miller added.

Mount Saint Mary’s has a budget of about $550,000, Miller said. Catholic students pay a fee of $370 a month, while non-Catholics pay $390, Miller said. Students can pay the fees at the beginning of the year or on a monthly basis, Miller added.

“Having between 95 and 100 students would make the (enrollment) situation very comfortable for us,” Miller said. “But as long as we meet our target of having at least 70 students, we are good to go.”

To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail ssen@theunion.com or call 477-4229.

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