- Issue 3
For the last fifteen years, January is preoccupied with the admission files of prospective Lancers.
The files include personal essays written by students hoping to become Lancers, but also words from their parents sharing their perspective about why they want their student to attend our school. Here is a snapshot from one such parent, “Kennedy Catholic: a beautiful mixture of students, robust course offerings that develop the best in each student, the emphasis on faith formation, regardless of where we are on the spiritual journey, and an international program that benefits the entire student body. Where else could my daughter spend four years experiencing a global perspective featured in every class, every activity and every club. Kennedy Catholic offers everything a Catholic school should while staying true to the mission of the church.”
After reading this, I was overwhelmed. Each year, I read well over 400 applications for Kennedy Catholic. Occasionally, there is one that inspires and drives me to continue the endeavor to recruit for the mission. (Acts 20:24) “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” The words “a global perspective” resonate with me because they are prominent in Verso L’alto (our strategic plan). We are continually reimagining the potential of our diversity. We offer every student a global educational experience - reflecting the rich diversity of both our local community and the world at large. This is the very essence of our school community, which embodies cultural competency and demands empathy and collaboration.
Seven years ago, I found myself in Ho Chi Minh City, staying with a family whose daughter was a junior at Kennedy Catholic. This was at the tail end of my journey to China with the Soo Yuen Benevolent Association. Although we had limited verbal communication (I don’t speak Vietnamese), we still found our way into a special relationship because of our common experience of raising and parenting a daughter. All parents want the same thing for their children – to see their hopes and dreams realized.
From that experience, I felt compelled to ensure our admissions practices at the international level were the same as on the domestic home front. We invested in strategic planning for our international program, researching best practices while keeping an eye on the political climate. We identified resources in the countries we felt committed to visiting and then engaged those resources in a long-term relationship. These country coordinators, intimately familiar with the mission of Kennedy Catholic, began to work with our Director, Mariko Fujiwara, to make presentations, create test protocol and set-up personal interviews. Our goal: to recruit to further the mission of Kennedy Catholic, as articulated by our prospective parent in her parent essay above, rather than to achieve specific quotas.
This last November, I took a recruiting trip to Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines accompanied by our CFO, Rommel Buenafe. We hosted presentations in homes, in coffee shops and restaurants, even in U.S. embassies. It was also an amazing opportunity to reconnect with alumni, their parents and of course, current parents, eager to catch up on the progress of their children. Another special outcome of the trip will be six current and prospective Vietnamese families attending their first ever American auction gala at Kennedy Catholic on April 4! On this trip, I was able to see our hard work and strategic efforts pay off.
Additionally, in every country and every city, we connected with schools, teachers, and administrators to explore the benefit of future partnerships which present endless opportunities to learn from each other – expanding our global awareness and understanding of our interconnected world.
My highlights? Those can be best summarized by a dad, whom I met in Vietnam in November and who accompanied his daughter, Kyrie, to Kennedy Catholic starting school this semester. “We are Catholic. My wife and I spent eighteen years as youth ministers in our church. I play the organ at Mass on Sundays. I want my daughter’s faith to be stronger, I want her to be academically challenged, I want her to make friends, be happy, and be ready for college. Mostly, I want her to learn from the breadth of culture she will be exposed to.”
I want that for Kyrie too.
At Kennedy Catholic, we will never be complete without the beauty of what makes us unique in the eyes of God; our mission is to provide a Catholic education to all who desire it.
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