Increased enrollment boosts hope as All Saints’ school year begins

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Students enter the All Saints’ Episcopal School Chapel Tuesday afternoon for assembly. The school is trying to reach an enrollment goal of 90 students by Nov. 1. (Melanie Duncan ThortisThe Vicksburg Post)

[09/03/03] Hope remains at All Saints’ Episcopal School as enrollment inches toward the goal of 90 students this academic year.

“There is a big smile on the face of this school right now,” said the Rev. Bill Martin, rector and head of the school that almost shut down in May, citing a steady decline in enrollment over the past 17 years.

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Seventy students are now enrolled in the 95-year-old day and boarding school on Confederate Avenue. In 1983, 188 were enrolled.

In January, school leaders announced there would be no 2003-04 academic year but after an outpouring of support from faculty, alumni, students and friends of the school, members of the board of trustees reversed that decision.

But in reversing, members of the board made up of laymen and clergy from Mississippi, Louisiana, West Louisiana and Arkansas dioceses set goals for the school to raise $750,000 and increase enrollment to 90 students by Nov. 1.

Because the school offers open enrollment, which allows students to enroll throughout the early part of the year, Martin said he is confident students will continue to sign up.

“We have new students coming in daily,” he said, adding that another day student had enrolled as late as Tuesday morning. “We’d like to finish up the year at 100. That will be a comfort zone to us.”

Of the 70 enrolled, 45 are boarding students and 25 are day students. Eighty-three students were enrolled at the end of last year and 16 graduated.

Fund-raising efforts last year brought in about $300,000, and Martin said officials will kick off another campaign in the coming weeks.

Opened in 1908 as an all-girls Episcopal school, the school now accepts young men and women in the 7th through 12th grades.

Enrollment in Vicksburg Warren School District has increased this year with about 8,746 students, while 8,665 were enrolled last year.

Superintendent James Price said officials expect more students.

“We will see an increase this week in enrollment and after that it will stabilize,” he said.

He said an increase generally comes after the Labor Day holiday, when many younger students enroll.

Vicksburg Catholic School has seen a decrease in students in both St. Aloysius High School and St. Francis Xavier Elementary School. In the high school, 279 were enrolled last year, and 266 are currently enrolled. At St. Francis last year, 396 were enrolled and there are 387 enrolled now.

Peter Pikul, principal of VCS, said school officials anticipated a slight loss because of an unusually large senior class.

Fifty-two seniors graduated, while normally the school has about 42 to 44 students per class.

And he noted that kindergarten enrollment was down from about 48 students to 38.

Porters Chapel Academy reported an increase in enrollment from the previous school year. At the end of the previous school year, 304 were enrolled at the school that accepts kindergartners through 12th grades. The school was up a dozen students to 316 this year.

Principal Gwen Reiber attributed the growth to “continued emphasis on offering Christian education and solid academic programs.”

As for enrollment figures at higher education institutions in the area, numbers have decreased slightly at the Hinds Community College Vicksburg-Warren County campus, but overall enrollment of Warren County residents in all branches of the community college is up.

There were 625 full-time and part-time students enrolled by Hinds for academic, technical and vocational courses compared with 664 enrolled in the fall of 2002.

Overall, there were 934 Warren County residents enrolled this year in all branches of the community college, compared with 836 last year.

A spokesman for Alcorn State University said enrollment numbers at the Lorman school would not be released until mid-September. Registration is continuing this week.