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Catholic School Announces Plan to Increase Its Enrollment

Times Staff Writer

Officials of Providence High School, a tiny Catholic school in Burbank threatened with closure in the fall because of declining enrollment, announced Tuesday that it will expand its curriculum and offer scholarships to attract more students.

Providence, which has 208 students, needs an enrollment of 300 to keep from closing in June, said Sister Lucille Dean, the principal.

She said Providence will add two new electives--health careers and media communication--to lure more students to the coeducational high school. Dean said that the classes, as envisioned by Providence administrators, will offer students firsthand experience in health fields and the media.

In the health course, students will spend part of their time at St. Joseph Medical Center, which is next to the high school. The medical center is run by the Sisters of Providence, the religious order that operates the 33-year-old high school.

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The media classes will be assisted by people from movie, television and radio studios in Burbank, Dean said.

She said students, parents and teachers are confident that enrollment can be raised in time. “We have moved beyond questioning whether we will be here in the fall,” she said. “We have decided we’ll go on to the 21st Century.”

Financial Woes

The mood was far different in September, when the provincial council of the Sisters of Providence announced in Seattle that the high school needed more students to remain solvent. The news shocked students, parents and alumni.

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“The mood in September was of disbelief and of great concern,” Dean said.

Parents and students started a fund-raising and publicity campaign, Dean said. They ran advertisements in Catholic publications, sent announcements to parish bulletins and did a mass mailing to 7,000 potential students.

“The recruitment efforts have been organized and led by our parents,” Dean said.

Dean said parents and students raised $25,000 through donations and a telephone fund-raising campaign. The Sisters of Providence have matched these funds, Dean said.

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Some of the money will go toward scholarships of up to $1,600. The scholarships will be awarded to the top 10 students taking the school placement examination Feb. 4. The yearly tuition at Providence is $3,175.

Raymond Ferrante, president of the school’s parent advisory council, said the publicity campaign has stirred new interest in the school. An open house in November attracted about 425 potential students, Ferrante said. A year earlier, he said, an open house drew only 170 students.

Providence enrolls students from all over Los Angeles County, but most come from the San Fernando Valley, Dean said.


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