Students, parents and teachers showed up to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School bright and early Sunday morning for their open house.
Members of the OLPH community as well as prospective new families were welcomed to the school to tour the campus, meet the teachers and view samples of completed student work. The open house coincided with the beginning of Catholic Schools week which highlighted the contributions of Catholic schools to local communities, according to principal Sharon Krahl.
Though the school was first opened in 1962, Krahl said that many Santa Clarita residents do not know about the valley’s only Catholic school, and referred to OLPH as a “hidden gem.” The open house was also an outreach tool for families and potential new students.
“In order to compete with all the excellent public schools in the area, we have to offer the same things that they do, and on top of that, you can think of our faith aspect as the either the foundation or the icing on top,” Krahl said. “The biggest benefit of having such a small school is that we really become a tight-knit family and we’re able to incorporate our faith into every aspect of our school and the kids’ lives.”
With 260 students already enrolled, from its two-year transitional kindergarten program to eighth graders, Krahl estimated that approximately half current students’ families and 30 new families attend the open house events each year.
Two of Sergio and Christina Ruiz’s children enrolled to OLPH, one who has since graduated to high school and one currently in third grade. They said they enjoyed the academic rigor, faith foundation and variety of programs the school had to offer.
“A lot of public schools have been having a lot of days off and the extracurricular programs have to be cut because of budget problems, so as working parents we’re glad that this school has these programs and after school options right here,” Sergio said. “When our daughter left the school to go to (William S.) Hart High School, she was more than prepared.”
Lisa Furubotten, one of OLPH’s third grade teachers, said she’s enjoyed every aspect of her time teaching.
“What I love so much about being part of a small school is that the kids in the same grade are in the same class each year so you get to see the grow up and become close like a family,” she said. “It’s a culture shock coming from a public school where you can’t talk about God to a place like this where it’s encouraged but it’s really nice. And not all our students are Catholic so even if they are learning about our faith, we’re not trying to convert them.”
Second grade teacher Katie Twarowski said families attend to see current work by the students but also to interact with future teachers in preparation for the next year.
“The open house is also a great way to show the community who we are since there is a stigma that Catholic schools only focus on God and not the education aspect,” she said. “That being said all of my students are all reading at or above grade level and our test scores show what kind of school we are.”
As a parents who grew up in Catholic school and currently a Catholic high school teacher, Samantha Phillips said OLPH reminds her very much of her own education and is glad of the decision to enroll her child in the school.
“I considered signing my daughter up for one of the Catholic schools in the Valley since I teach out there but we really felt at home here,” she said. “I like coming to the open houses because you get a chance to feel what it’s like to be on campus and meet the families. Before my daughter was enrolled we came to an open house and we were greeted so warmly from the beginning and ever since.”