A Feasibility Study is currently underway to explore the opening of The Seattle Nativity School, (www.seattlenativity.org) a tuition-free, faith-based Catholic middle school here in Seattle’s Central District. The school will operate under the NativityMiguel model, as part of a network of over 60 existing schools in over 20 states across the US & Canada.
The first Nativity School was founded on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1971 in response to an observation by local Jesuit priests that young Latino boys were struggling to keep up with their peers academically. So the Jesuits established the Nativity Mission Center, which kept local kids in school for extended hours, and away from dangerous influences in the neighborhood. They provided a rigorous and holistic curriculum, wrapped in an environment of support. Those at the school became the student’s ‘family.’
Since then, Nativity middle schools have spread across the United States, serving grades 5th through 8th at 60 schools in over 20 states. These schools offer a non-tuition-based, extended day, extended year education that is augmented by a graduate support system. The average student enters a Nativity school often achieving one or two years below grade level in standardized tests. By graduation day, he or she is prepared to succeed in the elite local public and private high schools, with the ultimate goal of attending university. The approach has been successful in graduating students from high school and college at rates 20-30% higher than their peer groups in public schools.
In Seattle, we have diverse communities in need who are challenged to find the type of holistic support – spiritual, educational and emotional – that is required for them to break the cycle of poverty. The Seattle Nativity School is in the process of understanding the need and interest level here in the Central District and South Seattle. The Feasibility Committee is conducting community & family surveys as well as holding information sessions; the next session will be at the Douglas-Truth library branch (23rd/Yesler) on April 12th from 6:00-7:30pm or on April 14th, at the Beacon Hill Library Branch from 4:15-5:45pm. All are welcome, especially interested families with grade school aged children.
Pending approval of the Feasibility Study, the Seattle Nativity School is seeking co-sponsorship by the Archdiocese of Seattle and Jesuits of the Oregon Province. Seattle Nativity is targeting to open its doors in September of 2012 with the inaugural class of 5th graders – 10 boys and 10 girls. This established educational model is grounded in social justice, hope and providing opportunity.