George Parish School is located in South Seattle. The School was founded in 1919 by the Franciscan brotherhood to serve the needs of the immigrant railroad workers. These immigrants wanted a religious education for their children and hoped to protect them from the Great Flu Pandemic that was raging through the public schools at that time.
The first students were a mix of Austrians, French, Irish Belgians, Italians, Bavarian, Poles and Mexicans. Most of their parents were employed by Burlington Northern in Georgetown rail yards. As time progressed, many families were also employed by Boeing. The average family continues to be employed in the service industry and has two hourly wage earners in the household.
The Beacon Hill neighborhood is a lower to middle socioeconomic region of the city, though gentrification is occurring in some areas, bringing in more middle to upper-middle class families.
The first teachers at Saint George were the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They were recruited from Dubuque, Iowa and taught here from 1921-1978. Since 1978, a primarily lay faculty and staff have operated the school, overseen by the pastor of St. George Parish.
In 1998, due to lack of funds from declining parish and school enrollments, St. George Parish and School was reorganized by the Archdiocese to a tri-parish model with one pastor overseeing St. George, St. Paul and St. Edward parishes and schools. We are also part of the Rainbow Schools, an affiliation of five “inner city” parochial schools and six additional “rainbow” parishes.
The Rainbow Schools was formed when some of the schools had to close as a result of low enrollment and high operating costs. The students were dispersed to the remaining schools and their parishes subsidized these schools. This Rainbow subsidy comprises a large and important part of our schools’ income. Of our 215 K-8 students, 66 are registered at St. George Parish. 51 students are registered at one of the Rainbow parishes, St. Peter and Vietnamese Martyr being the largest population of students here. 98 of our students are non-Catholic.
Serving the immigrant population has been a huge mission of our school, yet the ethnic make-up of the parish and school has changed from a primarily European population to a predominantly Asian. We have also seen an increase in enrollment of Hispanic, Ethiopian and Eritrean families over the last few years. St. George Parish School serves a highly diverse community of students with 85% self-identified students of color. 14 % of our students qualify for Free/Reduced lunch and 30% attend SGPS with tuition assistance.
Each year, the bulk of our graduating eighth graders go on to one of the seven Catholic high schools. Many children are accepted into programs with academic honors and scholarship. Holy Names Academy and O’Dea High School are the main recipients of our students with Bishop Blanchet running third. Though most of the high schools do not send us yearly academic updates of our alumni, we know through conversations with administration that many of our alumni are honor roll students in their respective high schools.
For the academic reports, we do receive data from high school placement test results. St. George students are scoring above average. For those who don’t go on to Catholic schools, the lack of financial assistance is the main deterrent. We have also had students who have earned spots and even academic scholarships at other locally distinguished schools such as Lakeside.