Graduating seniors — 125 in total — took the stage at St. Anthony High School's gymnasium this June. This year's graduating class tied last year's for the school's largest ceremony to date.

"The graduating classes — in recent years, not just this year — are shining," Mike Schabert, St. Anthony High School's principal since 2008, said.

With a 100% graduation rate and with every graduate attending a two- or four-year college or university in the fall, it isn't difficult to see how the students are exceptional, Schabert added.

"At our school, the ultimate goal from day one is college,” he said.

This year's college admission results mirrors what the school has seen since 2008, Schabert said, adding that he credits the students' successes to both their efforts and to the school's curriculum as well.

The high school offers science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) courses that coincide with the general curriculum. Instead of Pathways programs that require students to pick a single "major" to study throughout their high school career, St. Anthony allows students to change their main study focus.

"Our courses include robotics, sports medicine, criminal law, business, fashion and finance," Shabert said. "A student could do engineering one year and sports medicine the next year and find what suits them."

He added that spending four years studying four different disciplines can help students figure out what they really want to pursue by the time they are 18 years old and applying for colleges and scholarships.

In addition to a rigorous curriculum, the students are required to complete a total of 100 community hours before graduation. The parents are required to complete volunteer hours each year as well. 

"It's (the school) like a three-legged stool," he said. "It starts off with the kids themselves and their hard work, as well as the many parents and staff coming together."

Schabert said that school's smaller environment encourages the students to work harder, and this year's valedictorians, Madison Mizraji and Robert Sanchez, are a representation of drive often seen from the students. 

“One of the advantages that I noticed at St. Antohny’s, compared to larger schools, is that we are a smaller community," Schabert said. "When you're one of 500 (students) — not one of 5,000 — you have more opportunity to get involved.”

The valedictorians not only excelled in their academics, but played an active role in campus life, participated in athletics, volunteered more than the required number of hours and even maintained part-time jobs, he said.

As the only private high school in Long Beach, Schabert added that he hopes the cost of tuition won't deter parents from considering the school for their children.

"From the beginning, St. Anthony’s has always had a mission to provide an affordable Catholic education," he said. "We are in the middle of downtown Long Beach, and it’s a very diverse community. We have never been a school that would turn down someone who is in poverty.”

He added that the school has opportunities for scholarships and grants, with around half of their current student body qualifying for at least partial financial aid.

As for the next group of graduates, Schabert said that he has nothing but high hopes for the young scholars.

“These kids are extremely capable," he said. "There’s no reason to think they won't be able to meet or exceed their predecessors.”

To inquire about the 2017/2018 school year or ask about grant or scholarship opportunities, call (562) 435-4496. For more information, go to LongBeachSaints.org.

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at sstutzman@gazettes.com.

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