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Op-Ed: Parochial Schools Like Covington Latin Have Big Impact in NKY

Pop quiz: What’s the third largest school district in Northern Kentucky?  

The largest is Boone County (serving 20,000 kids), and the second largest is Kenton (serving 17,000 kids). It may surprise you to learn that the third largest school district in Northern Kentucky isn’t Campbell County.  

The third largest district, serving over 10,000 kids, is the Diocese of Covington.  

Some of you may feel that that was a trick question, because the Diocese of Covington isn’t a public school district. If you are one such person, I’d like to challenge your thinking, and ask you to reconsider our regional education offerings holistically.  

The Diocese has 29 elementary schools and 9 secondary schools in 6 Northern Kentucky counties.

Well known institutions like Newport Central Catholic, Covington Catholic, St. Mary’s, Covington Latin, Notre Dame Academy, and Villa Madonna, all fall under the Diocese of Covington.  

As we talk about the issues of regionalism and education, it seems to me we often overlook the role the Diocese of Covington plays, and the positive impact they have on our collective lives.  

With that thought in mind, I recently took a tour of Covington Latin, and was absolutely blown away by the school and the level of excellence.  

It is right down the street from my office, so I’d driven by the school (adjacent to St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption) countless times. But I never knew about the impact they have on our community.

Their impact is profound.

As I learned from Mr. Mo Woltering, Covington Latin’s Headmaster, and Tony Bonomoni, their Director of Advancement, Covington Latin has produced some amazing regional leaders since it opened in 1923: Kris Knochelmann (Kenton County Judge Executive), Tyson Hermes (Mayor of Erlanger), and Chris McDaniel (Kentucky State Senator) are all graduates of Covington Latin, just to name a few.  

No matter where you live in the region, you probably aren’t far from a Covington Latin student, as the school brings students from all around Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati.  

As Mr. Woltering explained, “Our students come from an array of educational backgrounds: 53% previously attended Catholic schools, 39% attended public schools, 5% were home-educated, and 3% attended non-Catholic private schools. Students of color constitute nearly 14% of enrollment.”  

It surprised me to learn that 32% of Covington Latin students are non-Catholic, but what surprised me even more was the school’s commitment to an accelerated education for all their students.

You see, Covington Latin students are encouraged and expected to accelerate fifth, sixth, and seventh grades in advance of their high school careers. In fact, the school was founded on the belief that “academic ability should determine a student’s grade level, not merely age.”

Many students wind up graduating a full 2 years early from high school.

The school’s motto, in Latin, of course, is Bonitatem et disciplinam et scientiam, doce me. It means "Teach me goodness, discipline and knowledge". Whatever they are doing seems to be working. The average ACT score for Covington Latin graduates is a 29!

The school has been profiled in US News and World Report, and was ranked the #1 private school in Northern Kentucky by Cincinnati Magazine.   It truly is an amazing place, located at 11th Street and Madison Avenue in Covington.  If you get a chance, swing by for a tour.  

And if you run into any Diocese of Covington school officials, tell them “Thanks” for what they are doing. As much as any other organization in our region, they are working hard to make our community a great place to live, work, play and raise a family. They are playing a large role and deserve some recognition.

-Brent Cooper is president of C-Forward, a Covington-based IT firm