Frequently Asked Questions

How long has the school been here?
The school was established in 1913. The original part of the present building was built in 1952.  A classroom, library, audiovisual room and school offices were added in 1979.  The computer lab was updated in 1998.  In 2009, a major school construction project included the addition of a new kindergarten, music room, cafeteria, preschool, science lab, Middle School classroom and state-of–the art gymnasium.

How are renovations to the school funded?
In recent years, renovations and improvements such as SMART Boards for all classrooms, remodeled library, carpeting, new computer lab, and sinks and storage in the classrooms have been funded by a special “funded item” donation segment of the annual school auction.  The largescale renovations completed in 2009 were funded through the St. Cecilia Capital Campaign.  Tuition does not increase to fund capital improvements.

Is St. Cecilia School accredited?
St. Cecilia was first accredited in 1996 and has maintained this status since that time.  The accrediting agencies are the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools (NAAS) and Western Catholic Education Association (WCEA).  In the Fall of 2008, St. Cecilia School had it’s most recent accreditation visit. The school received another full accreditation term (6 years). For additional information on accreditation, please consult the Parent/Student Handbook or check our website.

Do you have to be Catholic to attend St. Cecilia School?
No.  The Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Portland admit students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available at all schools.  They do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of their educational policies, admissions policies, scholarships and loan programs, and athletic and other school administered programs. While St. Cecilia School is open to everyone, parishioners have priority in the admission process. Parishioners receive a substantial tuition reduction as a result of a parish subsidy.

Do you have a full day Kindergarten?
Yes.  In September 2007, we shifted from a full day/alternate day Kindergarten program to a full day/every day program.  Along with our full-time teacher, there is a teacher assistant assigned to the kindergarten.  Parents are encouraged to help out in the classroom in various capacities.  The Kindergarten classroom was expanded and improved during the summer of 2009 to provide a more spacious and better equipped environment.  Kindergarteners participate in Computer, Library, Music, Spanish and Physical Education classes taught by the teachers trained to those disciplines.

Is before care and after care available on site?
Yes. Vermont Hills Family Life Program supervises our before care and after care programs within the school building.  It opens at 7AM and closes at 6PM each school day. Vermont Hills Program information is available in the school office.

Is there an art program?
The Art Literacy Program is run by parent volunteers.  This group of parents meets regularly and plans out the year.  Each month focuses on a different artist, and the students learn about that artist, what influenced him or her, and the type of media used.  Students produce original artwork in the style and media of the featured artist.  All grades work on the same artist with projects modified to be age appropriate.  Artwork is also created in the classroom as part of the curriculum with teachers incorporating art on a regular basis.  Projects are geared to the interests and abilities of the particular students in that class. The Resident Artist Program is a St. Cecilia favorite!  This program provides an artist specializing in particular media or style.  Artwork produced through this program can be found throughout the school such as the ceramic tiles in the front hallway and the Eric Carle inspired mural in the Library.

Is there a music program?
Yes!  St. Cecilia School has a dedicated Music/Band Instructor. Children in preschool through 5th grade have regular Music class.  In 5th grade, the children can choose to play an instrument and join Beginning Band.  There is also Advanced Band and Jazz Band for the more proficient students in Middle School.  The 5th grade class leads the Christmas play with grades K through 4 singing in class groups as part of that production.  The Middle School Choir is an option for students who enjoy singing. They perform at the Grotto and Washington Square at Christmas time and also perform a spring musical each year.

What physical activity do the students get during the day?
The lower and intermediate grades have multiple outdoor recess periods. With the addition of our new gym, students can enjoy their recess periods even on rainy days. The Middle School students have a morning break and an outdoor break after lunch daily.  All students in grades K through 5 report to the gym for P.E. class with the P.E teacher three times a week.  Middle School students have P.E. three times a week and Health twice a week. Students in grades 3 through 8 are encouraged to join the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) sports program and represent the school in basketball, volleyball and track.  St. Cecilia also has representation on teams, which include students from other schools, for football and swimming.  CYO Board oversees the administration for these sports. What other enrichment programs are available at the school? In addition to Art Literacy, Beginning, Advanced and Jazz Bands, Middle School Choir, CYO Sports, Spanish and computer literacy, there are also opportunities through special providers.  The overnight science camps are coordinated through OMSI. Field trips are funded through the school operating budget.  Parents with special interests or talents are encouraged to share their knowledge through class presentations and activities.  Several Girl Scout troops meet regularly on campus.

What is the class size?
There is one classroom per grade from Preschool through 8thgrade.  The maximum class size is 30 students;  however, the class sizes generally run from 25 to 30 students. Preschool classes are about 20 students per session. Teacher assistants are assigned to help in all grades.

Do the Middle School students change classes during the day?
Yes.  Middle School students’ schedules allow for movement amongst the classrooms to include the disciplines of:  Mathematics (including preAlgebra & Algebra), Science, Technology, Religion, Health, P.E., Language Arts, World History (6th), Geography (7th), and US History (8th)

Is there a tuition assistance program?
Tuition assistance is available through the Student Tuition Assistance Resource (STAR) Program.  Applications for STAR are evaluated by a third party firm with recommendations provided to the Pastor & Principal.  Families can apply online at

How do St. Cecilia students compare with other students on standardized tests?
St. Cecilia students’ standardized test scores are consistently far above the national average.

To which schools do graduating 8th grade students matriculate?
Over the last several years, 86% of our students chose to attend Catholic high schools with the majority of them attending Jesuit.  Valley Catholic, St Mary’s Academy (downtown), and Central Catholic are also represented.  An additional 12% attend public high schools including School of Science & Technology, Arts & Communications Magnet Academy, and the International School.

Does the cafeteria provide lunch daily?
Yes.  School lunches are pre-ordered by the month to help the cafeteria staff plan and avoid food waste. Day-of orders are accommodated for students who forgot their lunch that day.  Milk is available for purchase daily or with a pre-paid card.  Ice cream may be purchased on Fridays.

What is your teacher retention rate?
Several staff members and three teachers have been at St. Cecilia for over 20 years.  This is impressive since “retention rate” is usually measured at five years.  Eight of our faculty members have been at the school for over 5 years.  Of the newer teachers, most have either taught in Catholic Schools or attended Catholic schools.  The teachers enjoy the small school atmosphere as it allows them to truly make a difference in their students’ lives.

What resources are available for my child if he or she needs extra help with school work? We have a Learning Specialist on staff to help evaluate your child and determine the best course of action to enable your child to grow to his or her full potential.  She works with children across the academic spectrum. Detailed information about this program can be accessed at our website.

What is the St. Cecilia School Auction?
The annual auction is the school’s largest fundraiser. Parents are asked to procure items and services to be   auctioned off in either the silent or live segments of the auction.  During the auction, there is also a “funded item” segment where funds are raised for a specific project at the school.  Some of the funded items in past years provided new carpeting, SMART Boards for all classrooms, classroom improvements of sinks and storage, and an updated Library. Parents are encouraged to offer their talents to make the auction a success.  The auction is by far our most powerful fundraiser.

How can parents be involved at the school?
Parents are encouraged to attend Parent Association (PA) meetings, School Advisory Council (SAC) meetings and/or volunteer in many capacities.  The PA meets regularly to go over activities, enrichment opportunities, and fundraising.  Some of the responsibilities of the SAC are to provide opinions and advice on matters of planning, policy formation and finances.  Each school year, positions on both the PA board and the SAC become available through planned attrition.  These positions are held by school parents.

Does St. Cecilia School have a recycling program?
Yes!  St. Cecilia School is striving to be a paperless environment and has replaced many hard-copy documents with website access. Paper recycling containers can be found in every classroom.  The cafeteria has recycling bins as well.  Students are encouraged to be good stewards of the earth using the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle philosophy.