Written By: Bill O’Gurek, Class of ‘73
Officials, supporters and alumni of Marian Catholic High School, Hometown, are celebrating one of the most promising years in the school’s history, as a 13.6 percent increase in enrollment has brought a right outlook in days ahead for the diocesan school. Head of School Michael Brennan announced as of October 1 the enrollment at Marian is 283 students, up 34 from last year’ 249 total and 47 more than the 236 students who attended classes there in the 2021-22 school year.
Since he took over the top administrative position in Hometown on July 1, 2021, “Our expectation always was that we wanted to increase enrollment,” said Brennan, adding, “We are thrilled with the increase in families who are interested in a Catholic education or their sons and daughters.”
Under Brennan’s leadership, Marian’s enrollment is up 21.9 percent in a little more than two years. The 283 students enrolled this year represents Marian’s highest enrollment since 2017 when there were 296 students attending classes there. The data shows Marian had 346 students in 1990 and 409 in 1996. The population decreased by small percentages annually, dipping to 282 in 2006, and when the former Bishop Hafey High School in Hazleton closed its doors in 2013, Marian’s enrollment jumped to 377.
Brennan said the emphasis on Marian’s enrollment is based on the premise, “How do we make Marian stand out,” adding, “We’ve adopted a ‘Be Marian’ slogan that we post on every announcement and every social media post” that lists the attributes of the school and its students. Brennan said, “It’s nice to see it (the enrollment) grow, and while sometimes more students means more work, it’s rewarding to us to know families believe in what we’re doing. They believe in our values.”
He said the environment at the Hometown school “puts an emphasis on Christian faith and Catholic values, stressing to the students the need to always act as a human being, knowing you will be held accountable when you don’t.”He added, “The rules are pretty simple …. magnified because you are a Marian student, not because we believe we are better than anyone else, but because our students know they are constantly put under a microscope.”
Brennan said the success Marian is experiencing is because of a team effort, starting with the school’s advisory board, its Enrollment Committee, Mary Milosh, the school’s director of enrollment management, Erin Marek, Advancement director, the faculty and coaches and Amy Santos, marketing director. “The job Mary (Milosh) does is incredible,” Brennan said. “She meets every family for as long as they want; provides them tours of the campus; and takes questions and provides answers to them as the point of contact. In addition to this, she serves all of our students in the main office, along with managing all of our enrollment policies. Her efforts have really driven this enrollment rise”
Milosh is the first point of contact for everyone calling the school in the main office, and is often the first person that families meet when looking into Marian. "Enrollment isn't just about the numbers; it's about the connection; the connection you make with families and connecting students to their futures. I'm the lucky one as I get to meet incredible individuals. Being in the main office as well, I get to see these students unlock their full potential and shape their future. At Marian, our commitment to enrollment isn't just about filling seats; it's about nurturing every student and cultivating a community of learners,” said Milosh.
The Head of School said support from the advisory board has been significant, especially that of the former Enrollment Committee chairperson Kathy Link and her successor, Patrick Boyle. “They are passionate about Catholic education, and passionate about Marian, so when you have everybody working together, you’re going to accomplish more.”
Brennan said Nicole Dunn-Updegrave, Director of Student Support Services, plays a role in helping Marian students to reap unmatched dollar amounts of scholarships from colleges and universities. He said, “Each summer before their senior year, the seniors and parents come in; they review their classes and take a look at dual enrollment options available to them; they fill out the common application for colleges and we ultimately send them to their schools of choices.”
The teamwork obviously works, as in the 2022-23 school year, 51 members of the Class of 2023 were offered $9,621,686 in scholarships and accepted $2,971,310, an average of $58,260 per student.
Brennan said Marian will continue to help families who want a private education for their children with various forms of tuition assistance, all of which are income based.
The Pennsylvania Tax Credit Program has been a great help to the school, while over $1-million was received this past school year through the state program, the annual Marian Fund, special gifts, Marian's Day of Caring, the Marian Alumni Association, and the newly-formed Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumni ceremony. There are also private scholarships set up by families that are available to families.
“We get tremendous support from our alumni,” Brennan said. “It’s evident what the alumni means to the school and what the school means to our alumni.”
“Let us show you how we can help you afford a Catholic education,” Brennan suggested, pointing out the average grant to students is about $3,000, with about 55 percent of families receiving financial aid based on need.
For more information about Marian Catholic High School, call 570-467-3335.