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Old 05-25-2013, 09:07 AM
 
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Please tell me about the Catholic school in an and around Mt. Lebanon. I just found out we are probably relocating to Pittsburgh this summer. I will not have a chance to visit any schools until the summer when they are not in session, so I'm flying blind!

I have identified Mount Lebanon as our most likely location. We are planning to rent for the first year, so I have to choose a school before I choose a home. Can you tell me anything about the various Catholic schools? Do most of the kids who live in Mt. Lebo go to St. Bernard's? Since it is close to the border, is it more of a Dormont school? If we find a house in Mission Hills, St. Bernard's will be the closest, but what if we find a house in the Markham area should we consider St. Anne's or St. Thomas More? I seem to recall there is another nearby school but I can't remember the name.

A little background about us. . . we live in a place that is very similar to Mt. Lebanon. I have 3 children in Catholic schools: kindergarten, 2nd and 4th grades. Their school is located within our city limits, however, 15-20% of the kids come from nearby cities. (By the way, I always get the sense that those kids miss out on some of the social aspects of school because they ride a different bus, are in different rec leagues, go to a different pools/parks in the summer, can't just ride their bike to a friend's house, etc.) Our current school is about 450 kids, K-8, most continue on to Catholic high schools. The families are middle and upper-middle class and most parents also went to Catholic grade schools and high schools.

My husband works very long hours and is frequently out of town. I am fortunate to be able to stay home with the kids, so the lack of bussing in Mt. Lebo is not much of an issue for us. We want to rent for the first year so we can acclimate to the area and have time to find the "right" house. Since we won't have the advantage of making friends in our neighborhood during that first year, I feel like the kids' school is going to be an important part of our process of "getting established."

Lastly, for those who continue on to a Catholic high school, do most go to Seton LaSalle? My husband and I both went to single-sex high schools and that was the only option available where we grew up. The co-ed Catholic high school is a new concept for both of us.

I am quite nervous about this move and the impact it will have on my kids' lives. I appreciate these forums and all the information and expert feedback contained here. It's been SO helpful! Thanks for reading this super-long post and for any answers you can provide!
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Old 05-25-2013, 09:23 AM
 
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St. Bernards is in Mt. Lebanon on Washington Rd at the start of the business district.

St. Bernard School, Mt. Lebanon
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:28 AM
gg
 
Location: Pittsburgh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkshirt View Post
Do most of the kids who live in Mt. Lebo go to St. Bernard's?
Since Mt. Lebanon is a very good school, most kids would certainly go to the public school system, not a private school.
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:46 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
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Originally Posted by pinkshirt View Post
Please tell me about the Catholic school in an and around Mt. Lebanon. I just found out we are probably relocating to Pittsburgh this summer. I will not have a chance to visit any schools until the summer when they are not in session, so I'm flying blind!

I have identified Mount Lebanon as our most likely location.


The public school system is one of ML's greatest draws, the township levies large taxes to support it and folks that live there pay a bit of a premium largely because of it.

You'd probably be better off considering homes in nearby communities like Scott, Dormont or Brookline, if you aren't going to avail yourself of the system.
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:04 AM
 
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Yes, I know it seems silly to a lot of people to pay the taxes for the public schools and also pay tuition for a private school. However, that is what we do now and what we will likely do in Pittsburgh. The quality of the public schools is still important to me because we have moved several times and I prefer to buy a home in a good school system because resale is typically better.

I should have worded my question a little differently. . . "do most of the kids who live in Mt. Lebo and go to Catholic school, go to St. Bernard's?"
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Old 05-25-2013, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
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Originally Posted by pinkshirt View Post
I should have worded my question a little differently. . . "do most of the kids who live in Mt. Lebo and go to Catholic school, go to St. Bernard's?"
Most Catholic school children go to the school run by their own parish.

Once you know exactly where you will be living, you can call the diocese office with your new address, and find out what parish you'll be living in and enroll your children into the parish school.

Probably more Catholic children in ML go to St. Bernard's than any other, but ML is a big township with many neighborhoods and some parts of the community are in different neighboring parishes.
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Old 05-27-2013, 08:44 PM
 
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I don't know much about St. Bernard School and where it draws from. I think you are right to pose that question, though, because it is common for certain Catholic schools to attract students from outside the immediate neighborhood/parish, especially if the neighboring public schools aren't as good.

I do know that St. Thomas More has an excellent reputation. It has a modern building and attracts kids from Bethel Park, Mt Lebanon, Upper St. Clair, South Fayette, Chartiers Valley, and South Fayette. It is absolutely worth checking out. Again, I would ask where they draw from to be sure your kids' lives outside of school won't be overly complicated by geography.

I also hear good things about St. Louise de Marillac in Upper St. Clair, though I'm not familiar enough with the geography to know if sure if it would work for you.

Seton LaSalle is indeed the closest Catholic high school, and it is coed. A fair number of Catholic-school kids go to Pittsburgh's two single-sex high schools -- Central Catholic for boys, and Oakland Catholic for girls. These are located within the City of Pittsburgh limits, in the Oakland neighborhood, within a block of each other. There are busses or shuttles available from a number of suburban neighborhoods.
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:22 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
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Originally Posted by pinkshirt View Post
Yes, I know it seems silly to a lot of people to pay the taxes for the public schools and also pay tuition for a private school. However, that is what we do now and what we will likely do in Pittsburgh.
It isn't silly. If you want a neighborhood set-up for middle-class child-raising, those usually go with areas where people are willing and able to pay taxes for better public schools. The neighborhoods where everything, including schools, were centered around the local parish are gone from suburbanization, deindustrialization, and whatnot.
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:23 AM
 
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Thank you, eggmaker, that is helpful.
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:12 AM
 
Location: Highland Park
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Most Catholic schools in Pittsburgh are sponsored by a parish. Kids who live in that parish's boundaries are first in line for admission and also get a tuition discount. Kids who live in a different Catholic parish without a school are next in line for admission and also get the discount. Kids who aren't Catholic are last in line for admission and get no discount. I don't know what the rules are for kids who live in a parish with a school but want to attend a different parish's school.

Most of Mt. Lebanon lies within St. Bernard parish boundaries, but not all of it. Neighboring parishes are St. Margaret of Scotland (which has a school), St. Anne (ditto), and St. Winifred (no school). Other nearby Catholic schools include St. Thomas More (Bethel Park) and St. Louise de Marillac (Upper St. Clair).

The iron law of schooling is always: a school is good if, and only if, the kids in that school come from families that value education and support it by feeding the kids breakfast; putting them to bed on time; making sure they do their homework, etc. If the kids in a particular school have intelligent parents, they are likely to be intelligent themselves, and the school's test scores will reflect that, making it a "great" school. The public schools in Mt. Lebanon are "great" for this reason, and so are the Catholic schools.

As a result of this iron law, almost all Catholic schools are "good" because the parents, by definition, value education enough to pay tuition to send their kids to a particular school. The "great" Catholic schools near Mt. Lebanon are St. Bernard, St. Thomas More, and St. Louise, because the parents in those parishes tend to be doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs, and the kids' abilities reflect that.

These days, some Catholic schools are more faithful to scripture, tradition, and the magisterium than others. I don't know whether any of the Catholic schools that I've just listed are more or less faithful than others. I would check the website and possibly speak to the pastor or the principal to assess that (e.g., how often do the kids go to Mass during the week? which religion textbook do they use? etc.).

Most of the Catholic schools near Mt. Lebanon have 300+ kids. The parents live in communities with "good" or "great" public schools, but they also want to teach their kids to be good Catholics and value the support that a Catholic school provides in that endeavor. I grew up in a "good" public school system in the South Hills, but almost all of the kids on my street went to Catholic school for this reason. (Another issue, which is more common in high school, can involve peer groups: Mt. Lebanon High School has "great" test scores but has also had issues over the years with kids drinking, using drugs, sexting, etc. while their parents are out of town or busy working. Some parents will send their teenagers to Catholic high school in the hope of avoiding some of that).

I hope that some of this information is helpful to you. Once you have an idea of where you will be living, I would suggest calling the parishes to see what their boundaries are (to determine what your default school is) and then calling the schools about admissions, tuition, etc.

As for high school, many Catholic kids in the South Hills go to public high schools, as they are generally very good, offer resources that Catholic high schools don't (e.g., gifted programs), and are not cost-prohibitive. Those kids who attend Catholic high school attend Seton-LaSalle (in the South Hills) or Oakland Catholic (girls) or Central Catholic (boys) in the city proper. My impression is that the city high schools are better academically and are more faithful to Catholicism than is Seton-LaSalle, but that may be based on outdated information. You can and should re-investigate when your kids are closer to high school age.
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