Test anxiety

As with most high school and middle school students in San Antonio, the Providence Catholic School planner shows it’s time for final exams. Most of us can still relate to the annual stress of wondering how you will recall everything you learned way back in January and answer all questions before the buzzer goes off, then pray for a grade that will move your average up at least a little more.

But a cause for tears?

For some, sadly, yes. Certainly not because they didn’t learn the material. In a school like Providence Catholic, where class sizes are small, homework is considerable, teaching styles are geared to single-gender tactics, self-discipline apparent, and the caring faculty willingly provides 1:1 tutoring, the students know not just the basics, but college-level material as well.

And, according to some studies, graduation from both high school and college is ultimately more likely to happen for Latino students who attend Catholic schools than those who attend public schools. In a city like San Antonio, where the drop-out and teen pregnancy rates remain some of the highest in the country, a Catholic education can have an exponential impact on a girl’s life, her current and future family, and her entire community.

San Antonio is blessed with many good Catholic schools that have a long history of contributing much in the way of leadership and brainpower to the community, and will continue to do so. Yet, for families who choose Catholic school, and commit to paying monthly tuition for the opportunity, this time of year can be stressful for those whose accounts are not yet paid in full. Per policy, the schools cannot administer final exams to such students until their tuition is paid.

Providence, like most Catholic schools, does its part by offering payment options and tuition assistance. The bleak reality is that the economy has hurt enrollment in all private schools, and it costs more every day to operate a school, attract new students and pay teacher salaries.

In recognition of these challenges and the impact these schools can make, the San Antonio Area Foundation recently awarded Providence Catholic School with a grant of $10,000 in Bridge Funding that will make a tremendous difference in many families’ lives. Other donors this year include area foundations like Goldsbury, Strake and Scanlan, generous alums, and friends to the Congregation of Divine Providence.

In one recent situation, a struggling family saw their tuition account paid up with grant money, creating a brighter future for a student whose focus is now where it should be for a 16-year-old girl: She will study and take her final exams, and keep working toward that college-prep diploma.

Previously, the student had planned to drop out and take on a minimum wage job to help support the family. That was her solution. We gave her a different, more hopeful, one.

She has dried her tears and sees her future a little more clearly now.

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