Recalling her first days at Nativity almost seven years ago, as an incoming sixth grader in July of 2006, Melyna A. says she was scared. “I remember looking around the classroom at all the students I didn’t know and thinking, ‘I hope I make it.’”
To say Melyna has ‘made it’ is certainly an understatement. This month, Melyna will graduate high school after an outstanding four-year career at The Academy of Our Lady of Peace. And this fall, she will begin her college career in the nursing program at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.
“I am grateful to all of my teachers…in grade school and high school, but especially teachers here (at Nativity). They knew I could do it maybe before I knew I could.”
Melyna joins more than 150 Nativity Prep graduates who have gone on to high school and college, helping to make our record of success an outstanding one. To date, 97% of our graduates have earned their high school diplomas, and better than 87% have matriculated to two- or four-year colleges and universities. Among those colleges that accepted Nativity graduates from the Class of 2009 (high school class of 2013) were UCLA, Gonzaga, UC Irvine, University of San Francisco, Saint John’s University (NY), and the University of Southern California.
“These measures of success (for our graduates who go on to high school and college) can’t be emphasized enough,” says Nativity principal, Brendan Sullivan. “When you compare our kids with those who attend public schools here (in San Diego) and who share a similar background…from low income families, the first in their families to attend college and, in most cases, even high school…our kids are achieving remarkable success.”
Estimated high school graduation rates for lower income ‘minority’ students (African-American and Hispanic, namely) in San Diego public schools hover at an alarmingly low 50%. And even fewer go on to college. At Nativity, however, the college-bound trend set by its graduates is very promising. It is the fulfillment of a lifelong commitment the school makes with its students.
“We make an eleven-year commitment to our kids,” says Deacon Mike Daniels, who has served as a trustee at the school for the past ten years. “We’re with them for three years of middle school, four years of high school, and four years of college. It is that kind of long-term commitment, and the hard work on the part of our teachers and families and volunteers, that makes this model of education work so well.”
Another key component of Nativity’s success is the deliberately limited enrollment at the middle school. “We keep our numbers small because our kids enter with so many needs,” says Xochitl Alvarez, director of the school’s Graduate Support Program. “Through an intensive, challenging, and highly supportive academic program, along with a full range of additional support services (counseling, athletics, mentoring, and spiritual formation), our kids make huge strides in their growth as young men and women.”
Nativity relies on a community of benefactors and on the generosity of corporate and foundation grants to support the costs of educating their students each year. “We have a very generous group of sponsors and donors,” says Del Centanni, Nativity’s Director of Fundraising and Development. “And those who support our school so generously believe wholeheartedly in the unique mission of our school. We are very grateful to all of them, and very proud of our students.”
To date, Nativity high school graduates have gone on to a number of two- and four-year colleges, including Yale University, UCLA, Saint Mary’s College, University of San Diego, University of San Francisco, San Diego State, and a variety of local community colleges.
Nativity Prep is one of only three all-scholarship (not tuition-based) private schools in all of California. If you would like to sponsor a student’s education at Nativity, or if you would like more information about doing so, please click here.