School enrollment decreases during virtual learning school year


Itzel Luna

DPMHS enrollment has been decreasing since the 2015-16 school year. During the 2020-21 academic school year, enrollment decreased to 251 students, which is down from 317 students during the 2019-20 school year.

Mario Ronquillo

As the 2020-21 school year kicked off virtually in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, school administration has increased its recruiting efforts in response to this year’s low enrollment. 

“I think a lot of it has to deal with COVID,” Counselor Martina Torres said. “A lot of students don’t want to do online work with a regular high school.”

The student enrollment at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) decreased to 251 students from 317 students last school year. DPMHS plans to continue to recruit students through Meet-the-Magnet Zoom sessions to increase enrollment. Due to the low enrollment, DPMHS did not hire a new Spanish teacher to replace Marta Rodriguez, who transferred to a different campus at the beginning of this school year. This means that a teaching position has been lost.

“When we lost our Spanish teacher, that meant I could only offer fewer selections of Spanish classes,” Torres said. “I ended up having to change a lot of schedules in August in order to accommodate the loss of a teacher.”

Virtual Meet-the-Magnet sessions are usually organized by middle schools and attended by parents of eighth-graders. They invite multiple high schools, who then present to the middle school students. According to Magnet Coordinator Leah Pevar, these middle schools send her an email invitation and she always tries to attend. During these sessions, Pevar presents a slide presentation that highlights important facts about DPMHS. She also shares a video about the school featuring students in leadership, music, broadcast, yearbook and news magazine. 

“I think we have one of the best videos for (our) school program, so I think the parents are very impressed when they see our video,” Pevar said. “I feel like they are excited to see what the students are doing and what they are capable of creating. I want to create that buzz that this is the school you should want your child to attend.”

Pevar plans to increase enrollment for next school year by working with the new Principal Armen Petrossian. Petrossian has been assisting Pevar with the Meet-The-Magnet Nights since they sometimes have to present to multiple schools at the same time. Pevar also said that Petrossian speaks five different languages, which allows him to communicate with parents who might not understand or speak English. Torres hopes that Petrossian’s experience with middle school students will also help them come up with new ideas to recruit eighth grade students. 

“I hope to attract students by helping them understand that we are a good school and that we can prepare them for college,” Torres said.