Through four weeks of classes, the private school has 517 student enrolled. It ended last year with 480 students.
“I’m always excited to get new families in,” Headmaster Brian Benscoter said. “Retention is a big key, for families wanting to be here. A lot of families are sacrificing a lot to be here.”
The school has 96 new students this year; it lost 31 seniors to graduation last year and retained 91 percent of its students, Benscoter said. He said that nationally, a retention rate above 80 percent is considered good.
Elementary enrollment has risen by 20 students to 324 in grades K4 through 6th. The school also has 193 seventh- to 12th-graders, an increase of 17.
Three classes are closed to enrollment, Pre-1st, seventh and eighth. Sixth grade has only two slots available. The maximum enrollment for a grade is 50 students.
The sophomore class of 14 students is the school’s smallest. The senior and junior classes each have 27 students.
About 85 percent of the school’s students are from Tupelo, Belden and Saltillo, said Development Director Will Lowrey. It also has students from as far away as Houston.
Lowrey attributed the enrollment increase to stability in the second year of Benscoter’s leadership.
“We are coming off a conversion of headmaster, and you have a solid vision and stability, and those are two things people are attracted to,” he said.
Benscoter said his focus this year is on increasing critical thinking skills for students and being more aggressive with community outreach. The school has also been intentional about leadership training for its students, including a retreat for its high school students before the year began.