When I tell people I am principal of O’Connell College Preparatory School, a private Catholic school, I often receive reactions that, frankly, surprise me.
Some say they would never choose a private school for their children’s education.
When I ask why they feel that way, I get some pretty interesting answers. For instance, I often hear that private schools are only for elite, wealthier white families. Others say they are afraid the school will try to convert their child to Catholicism.
Others feel small schools cannot offer the same level of academic excellence found in public schools. In addition, many feel their children who play sports will not get the recognition to propel them into college sports.
These are all myths which I would like to dispel. I understand that private schools may not be the right setting for every child, but I firmly believe they are the right setting for many students.
At O’Connell, we have more students classified as nonwhite than we do classified as Caucasian, and 45 percent of our students qualify for financial aid. Because of those stats, it’s hard to classify the school as elite, wealthy or predominately white.
We are a Catholic school, and our students attend Mass and take theology classes. However, students don’t have to be Catholic. Actually, just more than half of our students are from the Catholic faith, while the rest belong to other Protestant denominations.
In terms of academics, we have a highly qualified faculty, with the majority having 20-plus years of experience. Many hold advanced degrees, and we even have a Fulbright Scholar. We offer 20 hours of dual-college credit courses through Galveston College and 30 hours of AP courses in which students can earn college credit.
In the past four years, 127 graduates of O’Connell have earned more than $4 million dollars in grants and scholarships. Our students go on to universities in Texas such as the University of Texas, Texas A&M, North Texas State, Austin College, Southern Methodist University, Baylor, Texas Christian University and Texas Tech. Other students attend out of state schools like Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU and Syracuse.
O’Connell students also earn sports scholarships, such as football scholarships to Trinity and HPU, and softball scholarships to Austin College and Kansas University.
The benefits of attending O’Connell are many. We offer a small, family oriented environment and specialize in educating the whole child — mind, body and spirit.
Our student to teacher ratio is 10-to-1 this year. We strive to teach our students to have confidence in themselves and their own individual abilities. We find what makes them tick and help them soar.
We want our students to leave us feeling confident in themselves and to believe that they can accomplish great things. This is why our graduates are so successful and tell us regularly that O’Connell prepared them for the rigors of college.
Come visit us and see the great things that are going on here at O’Connell.
Patti Abbott is the principal at O’Connell College Preparatory School in Galveston.