In less than three months, a team led by Stark County Catholic High Schools President Dan Gravo, has raised $1 million dollars to support tuition assistance and scholarship programs. Donations have come from alumni of Central Catholic and St. Thomas Aquinas high schools and friends and supporters of Catholic education.
The two high schools together award more than $1.5 million a year in tuition assistance with 93 percent of students who attend Stark County Catholic High Schools receiving at least partial tuition assistance.
"The donations came through one-on-one contacts with people from the community along with many alumn, the amount raised shows how much people in the community want to support Catholic education," Gravo said. "People believe in the new structure of the system. Plus, they realize how important it is to have Catholic education as an option in the county."
Gravo began his new leadership role as president of the Stark County Catholic Schools, which includes both Central Catholic and St. Thomas Aquinas high schools, in August. A new model was implemented where there is one board of directors governing both high schools. Both schools will remain unique with their own traditions while being governed by one board.
Enrollment at both schools has held steady during the past year. Central Catholic has 315 students in grades 9-12 and St. Thomas Aquinas has 251 students grades 6-12. Gravo said while both high schools will operate as separate high schools, the goal of the board is to increase student enrollment at both schools through scholarships and tuition assistance.
Gravo said some of the recently reported statistics prove the value of a Catholic education. Graduation rates at both high schools is 100 percent, college attendance after graduation is 99 percent, extracurricular activities participation is 99 percent, test scores are above state and national averages and students experience faith values in the classroom every day.
"One of the reasons we are so successful is the smaller class sizes. Students don’t fall between the cracks. They receive individual attention and teachers can react quicker when they observe a problem with a student. The teaching staff, administrations and others work together as a team to help students," Gravo said. "Everything is going well with the new model. We’re all excited the two high schools have remained unique but have worked together. We look forward to growing enrollment, providing additional programming and continuing work on our capital improvements."