Meet the Baker family from St. Augustine Catholic High School in Tucson. Kevin Luke is currently a freshman and Olivia is finishing up her sophomore year.
Originally the mom, Andrea Neale, was living in Baton Rouge, LA. Unfortunately, she was displaced during Hurricane Katrina. She decided to move to Tucson, where she had family. A week later Kevin Luke was born. Olivia started in public school, but the school had numerous substitutes throughout the year and the constant change of teachers didn’t work for Olivia.
Andrea, with the help of her mother, decided to search for a better school for Olivia and a new job for herself. During the job search, she applied at St. John’s School for a position in the kitchen. While she did not get the position, the school suggested she enroll her children at St. John’s and told her about how the tax-credit scholarship programs worked. Thanks to this program, she was able to enroll her children at St. John’s when Oliva was in 3rd grade. Andrea has been able to keep both her children in private school ever since with the help of scholarships from the Arizona Leadership Foundation and other similar organizations. She stated, “I am very grateful for this opportunity for my children.”
After finishing elementary at St. John’s, Kevin Luke and Oliva began high school at St. Augustine Catholic High School. Kevin Luke likes geography, history and politics and he wants to go to college and get a degree in political science. He is a member of both the cross country and track team. Olivia’s favorite classes are biology and art. She participates in track and likes spending time with her friends. She wants to attend the University of Arizona to study the field of medicine or teaching.
Nicholas Bury, social studies and English teacher at St. Augustine Catholic had this to say about the students, “Olivia and Kevin are two students I’m unlikely to ever forget. Both are characterized by their outgoing personality. Olivia and Kevin *always* have something to say and share with the class and they’re always looking to strike up a conversation, whether it’s Kevin talking about a random fact he just learned or Olivia wanting to share her most recent short story involving chicken nuggets in some way for one of her homework assignments. The two of them are some of the friendliest students I’ve had the pleasure to teach and that friendliness extends beyond their interactions with myself. Both of them build relationships with their classmates with ease and enthusiasm. I have immensely enjoyed having them as my students these past two years.”
As a single mother, Andrea is grateful for the Catholic school system she found in Arizona. Olivia, said “I am really proud of my mom and what she does for the family and I believe this is the reason I have been so successful in school.”
About St. Augustine Catholic High School in Tucson:
St. Augustine Catholic High School opened its doors to its inaugural freshman class in 2003 with a vision to deliver a challenging academic environment in a spiritual setting. The school realized this vision by providing its students strong academic, religious, and co-curricular opportunities in a small-school setting. The school currently offers more than 15 dual enrollment and advanced placement courses, and more than ten varsity sports. St. Augustine Catholic High School recently opened a learning lab to assist students who face academic challenges or who have formal accommodation plans. The sense of community among the students, faculty, staff and parents is fostered by shared values and a common purpose to constantly learn and improve, providing students an opportunity to excel with individualized attention.