By Tom Dykhouse
Executive Director and Head of School
Eastern Christian School experienced significant growth in enrollment with the start of the 2015-16 school year, adding 183 new students and reversing a persistent declining enrollment trend. The addition of the new students has resulted in an increase in our September 2015 enrollment to 759 students, up from 705 students in September 2014.
Several members of our school community who have become aware of this increase have asked for my explanation of this fantastic growth in the number of students and families that we are privileged to serve. I have told them that there is no single factor, no “magic bullet” that explains our growth. Rather it is the combination of a number of factors that I have dubbed the “5 P’s.” The “5 P’s” include:
- Program: Eastern Christian School continues to to provide very strong academic, spiritual, and emotional support to serve the students who have been entrusted to us. Notable program achievements in the past year have included our being named a National School District of Character, one of only three districts in the nation to receive this honor, and one of the Top 50 Christian High Schools in America. Eastern Christian High School’s renowned Humanities program, and its recently launched STEAM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) have continued to attract new students to our school, as has our widely acclaimed graphic and performing arts program and our recently enhanced emphasis on interscholastic athletics which provide a wonderful venue for living out our school’s core values outside of the classroom.
- People: Supporting a growing student body is a team effort and Eastern Christian School is grateful to have been blessed with a strong team that functions as a truly cohesive unit. We are thankful for the leadership of our new student recruitment efforts provided by our Director of Marketing and Enrollment Management and his colleagues in the Enrollment Office. There is incredible support provided by teammates throughout the school! We had colleagues working in our school and Association offices, faculty members who reviewed transcripts and conducted new student assessments, and our principals who collectively conducted close to 200 new family interviews during the spring and summer!
- Process: Beginning early last school year, we began a major overhaul of our admissions processes, including revamping the scheduling and content of our open house events, the implementation of new enrollment management software, the introduction of a new online applications process, and the introduction of the “60 Second Re-enrollment” for returning students. These process changes were wrapped in a completely new marketing focus entitled “SOAR EC” which included the “Do Life Big” video presentation featuring drone photography of our campuses, repainting and redecoration of numerous public and student areas in the Eastern Christian color palette, and the introduction of spirited Community Nights to cheer on the Eagles in their athletic contests.
- Pricing: The introduction of the concept of Variable Tuition in the place of our former scholarship program helped many new families recognize that the cost of a world-class Christian day school education was not out of reach. Eastern Christian School’s Variable Tuition marketing has been widely praised, and, with our permission, copied by a number of our sister schools around the country.
- Prayer: Our growth has, more than any other factor, been the result of prayers on the part of our school community that have been answered by our God in the form of His blessing on years of efforts undertaken to grow Eastern Christian School. To God be the glory – great things He has done!
We are thrilled that so many new families chose to join us this year. Every student that joins our school is another opportunity for God’s mission for our students to transform the world!
We look forward with great anticipation as we officially begin our efforts to welcome next year’s new students with the opening of our Early Decision Enrollment window this month and our first open houses of the new school year on November 12 at Eastern Christian High School, November 17 at Eastern Christian Preschool and Elementary School, and our High School Preview Day for prospective 9th graders on November 18. Pre-register online or call the Enrollment Office at 973-427-4729 to register or for more information.