St. Philip Catholic School has grown to educate more than double the number of students annually than in 1950, but many of the core principles the school was founded with remain the same.
Celebrating 70 years of providing children in El Campo with a Christian-based education, St. Philip school originally had 120 students enrolled. Today, the school has expanded to 266 students and 46 staff members, 28 of whom are teachers.
“Those in the community that helped build the school are still around and real appreciative of what is still happening here,” Principal Gwen Edwards said. “There’s also a sense of pride in what they did in laying the foundation.”
Catholic schools across the country have faced declining enrollment during the last decade. The National Center for Education statistics reported a national decrease in student Catholic school enrollment for grades PreK through 12th grade from about 2.7 million in 1999 to about 2.1 million in 2015.
In 2019, the Houston Chronicle reported national Catholic school attendance was at 1.8 million.
As Catholic school enrollment has declined, school closures have risen. In spite of the statistics, St. Philip school has survived for seven decades, thanks to community support, Edwards said.
“We are the only Catholic school in this area, so we do have a draw from the surrounding areas,” she added. “We have a lot of legacy. If families have sent their kids here, they tend to stick with us, and so we see multi-generations.”
A faith-based education along with music and ministry programs make the school unique. Going forward, Edwards hopes to continue the school’s legacy of the last 70 years.
“I keep mentioning the word community, but it is huge,” Edwards said. “The church community, the school community, the El Campo community, because this is the most giving place.”
Student enrollment is open for the 2020-2021 school year. The school typically has a waiting list, but applications are available at the school office, 302 W. Church.