Nativity’s president, Mr. Brendan Sullivan, and one of its students, seventh grader Ricky A, were guests recently of the Temecula Rotary Club. Sullivan had a chance to share the mission and success of Nativity with the receptive and gracious crowd of close to 80 Rotarians, and Ricky was able to share some of his success story as well.
Citing his relationship with his Nativity mentor, Ricky spoke at length about how his own father’s departure from his family when Ricky was young really made life difficult for him. Growing up as one of two children raised by a single mother, Ricky mentioned how grateful he has been for the adult mentor he met through Nativity. “My mentor has been a great role model for me,” Ricky said, “in many ways like the father I didn’t have. Just by knowing that he is there for me, I’ve gained hope that I can have a better future.”
As part of its mission to serve students from low-income families, all of whom will be the first in their families to attend college, Nativity Prep provides a rigorous and enriching education for its students, including a comprehensive mentoring program for its middle school students and an ongoing support program for its graduates in high school and college. “We are here for families who wish to have a Catholic, private education for their children and who really want to break the cycle of poverty with an excellent education…but who otherwise cannot afford it,” Sullivan said.
And the results for the students attending and for those graduates who have gone on to high school and college are impressive: 100% of Nativity graduates go on to high school, and, to date, 98% have graduated (compared to an estimated 50% of their low-income peers in the public schools); and better than 85% of Nativity graduates from high school have matriculated to two- or four-year post-secondary schools.
Sullivan added that despite its small, family-like environment, Nativity’s teachers and students work hard day in and day out. “There’s a lot of components to our school that make us stand out among middle schools,” he said, “but the main things are our extended-day schedule and our extended year.”
Nativity students do indeed put in a lot of time at school. Their day begins at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 6:00 p.m., and there is a required five-week summer semester that students must attend as well. The emphasis on substantially longer hours devoted to study (compared to their peers in the public schools) is necessary given that the majority of Nativity students enter the sixth grade one to two years below grade-level academically.
Part of that year-round emphasis, including the summer program, is one of a number of things Ricky enjoys about Nativity. “I remember our week at Camp Marston last summer (through the YMCA),” Ricky says. “That’s an experience that I had never had before attending Nativity. It was a special time and I will always remember it.”
In addition to providing ongoing support and personal care to its students—including their academic, social, physical, and emotional growth—Nativity Prep students participate in a series of spiritual reflections and community-service programs while attending school.
“Once a month,” says Ricky, “we go to the local elementary school and help the first-grade students with their reading and writing. This experience of helping has helped me understand what it means to become a man for others through service to those who need it.”
Nativity’s vision centers on this practice of giving back, both through its middle school program for community service and through the message it sends to its graduates.
“We make an 11-year commitment to our students,” commented Sullivan. “We help support our graduates through high school and help them apply to college.” This year, Sullivan said Nativity has budgeted close to $100,000 to help the families of its graduates pay the costs for private and Catholic high schools. “And we expect that our graduates will continue to find ways to give back to our school community and the communities where they live and work.”
When he completes the next two steps in his own journey to a better life, Ricky A plans to return to Nativity to make good on that commitment. “I plan to attend Saint Augustine High School after eighth grade, and then I hope to attend Georgetown University for college,” he says. “I want to study law and really help those who need that kind of help…particularly people who might need that help but can’t afford it.”
“And I hope to return to Nativity in the future and become a coach or a mentor,” Ricky adds with a smile. “I think being a mentor would be good…so that I can help other students as much as my mentor has helped me.”
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.