September 18, 2013 — Seattle Nativity School welcomed its first class of middle schoolers this September, along with its first president, Jesuit Father Joseph Carver, former regional superior of the Jesuits in Montana. Seattle Nativity hopes to grow its inaugural class of 15 sixth graders to eventually offer a completely free private education to full classes of low-income, at-risk students in fifth through eighth grade.
“It feels better knowing I'm going to get a good education and that I'm safe here,” said Jaeden Thomas, one of the students selected to be in the inaugural class. Students were recommended for enrollment by Boys and Girls Clubs, heath centers and other community organizations.
The new school is modeled after the Nativity Mission Center, founded by the Jesuits on Manhattan's Lower East Side in 1971. Since then about 60 Nativity schools have opened throughout the country, successfully preparing children from impoverished backgrounds for high school and college. Seattle Nativity is the first of its kind in Washington. The school also hopes to provide private school tuition for students through high school and mentoring all the way through college.
“We hope that once they graduate from high school and college that they’ll come back to this community and continue to empower future generations,” said the school’s executive director, Renee Willette.
Seattle Nativity’s education model is based on extended-day and extended-year programming, which bolsters the students' academic development and provides them with a safe place after hours. Along with a month of mandatory summer school every year, students log nine-hour school days and are held to rigorous standards.
President Fr. Carver said, “In a time of immense challenges for families, educators and children, Seattle Nativity is a place for our students to become lifelong learners, lifetime scholars. It is exciting to join a dedicated team of volunteers, faculty and board members who are working in strong partnerships building the Seattle Nativity School community — building the Kingdom of God.” [KING 5, Seattle University, Seattle Nativity School]