The continuum of Jesuit education in the city of Seattle is about to expand. Seattle Nativity School, an independent, Catholic middle school in the Jesuit tradition, will open in September, taking its place alongside its "older" sister institutions Seattle University and Seattle Prep. Most important, Nativity extends the Jesuits' time-honored commitment to serving those most in need as the school will enroll low-income, at-risk students from the Central District and South Seattle.
Located at Our Lady of Mt. Virgin Catholic Church (2800 S. Massachusetts St.), the coed middle school will begin with an inaugural class of about 20 sixth graders and eventually grow to include fifth through eighth graders. To be admitted, students must qualify for the national free and reduced lunch program.
The new school is modeled after the Mission of the Nativity, which was founded by the Jesuits on Manhattan's Lower East Side in 1971. Since then about 60 Nativity schools have opened throughout the country. They are known for successfully preparing children from impoverished backgrounds for high school, and ultimately college.
Seattle University has been an active partner in helping to launch Nativity Middle School. Peter Ely, S.J., vice president for Mission and Ministry, left, was involved from the get-go and currently serves on the school's board of directors.
Nativity's curriculum will include a strong emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in addition to the firm grounding in the humanities for which Jesuit education is known and revered.
Another focus of the school is its extended-day and extended-year programming, which is intended to both bolster the students' academic development and provide them with a safe place after hours. (The first class of Nativity students got a head start on the school year by attending the Summer Academy, which ran for four weeks in June and July.)
Joseph Carver, S.J., of the Oregon Province has been named Nativity's first president by the Seattle Nativity School Board and Fr. Provincial Pat Lee, S.J. has made him available for this work. Father Carver most recently served as regional superior of the Jesuits in Montana and previously taught at Seattle Prep.
Just up the road from SU, Our Lady of Mt. Virgin Catholic Church is a fitting home for Nativity. The Jesuits have factored prominently in the history of the parish-a number its pastors have been members of the Society of Jesus, and Pat Twohy, S.J., of SU's Arrupe Jesuit Community currently serves as the church's parochial vicar.
For more information, visit Seattle Nativity School.