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Nazareth High School, Resurrected

Back in February, I posted on the apparent demise of Brooklyn's Nazareth Regional High School, my alma mater. The reasons for the board's decision to close the Xaverian Brothers-sponsored school were depressingly familiar: declining enrollment and rising debt.naz1-300x200A few days later, I noted reports that the school was being flooded with offers of financial aid and asked: Is it possible?The answer, as it turned out, was yes. The school announced this week that it has succeeded in gaining both the enrollment and financing to remain open. It's a remarkable story.It seems to me that news of the school's plan to close brought a flood of publicity about the school's many virtues. The school, with an entirely minority student population, graduates just about all of its students and sends them to college. It has some very good programs in technology and preparation for careers in health. And it just has the buzz of a good Catholic school - friendly, respectful relations between teachers and students, good discipline and a religiously based sense of mission.For a number of years, I served on the board (but not for the past few years, so I'm not privy to the current decision-making). I felt we were never able to get the word out about the school. There was little money available for advertising or public relations. When the word finally got out, it made a difference.If there is a lesson for Catholic education in the Nazareth saga, I think it's that the word needs to get out about what makes it special and why it's worth saving.

About the Author

Paul Moses, a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009).

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Congratulations, Paul M. :-) Shows what the laity can do when it opens its wallet and organizes.

The same good news happened in Philadelphia: West Catholic, my Mom's alma mater, and St Hubert's, my sisters' school, were both slated to close. But once the announcement was made, donors stepped up and saved those and a few other high schools. I think we do need to market better and we need to be much more demanding of financial support from alumni, I think. Time to give back a little.

Regarding the word "advertising" in the fifth paragraph above, I must point out the extraordinary 56-page supplement in today's New York Daily News, Sunday, April 22, 2012. Yes, it is labeled an Advertorial, but it is 56 pages proclaiming the availability of Catholic elementary education: 38 schools in Brooklyn, 57 in Queens. Each school has a quarter-page display ad and a quarter-page article, generally boasting of programs, the success of graduates, the possibility of tuition aid, and the availability of after-school care. ----It is an excellent promotional piece, but I have some quibbles. On page 32, the display ad is for Incarnation school, Queens Village, but the adjoining article twice refers to Incarnation in Washington Heights, 12 miles away. Not one school tells its tuition and fees. Not one school gives its scores on the mandated New York State tests. Only one school discloses its current enrollment. The purpose of advertising is to sell a product.----Several Brooklyn and Queens Catholic high schools ran convincing display ads in the same supplement.

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