Roughly 85 percent of St. Cecilia’s 213 students are Hispanic, and over 90 percent qualify for free and reduced lunch. The school maintains a bilingual parent liaison to communicate with parents, many of whom do not speak English. But this was not always the case for the neighborhood parish school that was founded more than 100 years ago.

Shifting neighborhood demographics led to a decline in enrollment. It was not until 2005, when the Archbishop of St. Louis designated St. Cecilia as a personal parish for Hispanics, that the trend was reversed. Today, St. Cecilia’s enrollment is the highest it has been in more than a decade.

Despite the progress in enrollment, St. Cecilia collects less than half of the cost to educate one child in tuition. To raise money to meet this deficit, St. Cecilia hosted a fundraising dinner in February intended to celebrate the Hispanic heritage of the school.

St. Cecilia’s gymnasium was transformed into a colorful event space for the 2nd annual St. Cecilia Carnival Celebration. The event raised thousands of dollars, which will go toward general operating expenses for the school. More than 150 guests enjoyed Mexican cuisine catered by a local Mexican restaurant, the Latin rhythms of Clave Sol, and a lively dance performance. Community volunteers—overseen in the kitchen by parent Yanit Carranza—prepared the appetizer and dessert courses, which were served by St. Cecilia graduates currently enrolled in area high schools.

St. Cecilia is a parish school with an embedded NativityMiguel model middle school.
The NativityMiguel model includes an extended school day, a longer school year, and support for graduates through high school. The school serves more than 200 students from low and modest income families in grades pre-K through 8. Founded in 1908 and incorporating the NativityMiguel model since 2004, St. Cecilia is fully accredited by the Missouri Nonpublic School Accrediting Association (MNSAA).

Katie Rundell
Development Director
St. Cecilia School and Academy
St. Louis, MO