Holy Family’s admissions team prides itself on showing prospective families the “real” Holy Family during their campus visits. In 2020, Vice President for Enrollment and School Partnerships Scott Breimhorst created Fire Family Visits, small group, socially-distanced opportunities for families to visit and remain safe doing so. These events replaced the larger format open houses. From September through February, he and admissions associate Katie Miller host more than 60 Fire Family Visits and dozens of individual personal family tours.
To accommodate the demand for visits, Breimhorst and Miller added another team member, or rather, 90 new team members, with the introduction of a student ambassador program. The Fire Ambassador Program’s vision is to embrace the mission of Holy Family Catholic School and put our student leaders in the spotlight.
Students in grades 10-12 apply for the Fire Ambassador Program in the spring for the following school year. Neither the students nor the admissions team anticipated how critical the ambassadors would be in meeting the increased interest in our school and this new approach to welcoming families.
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Miller dedicates her efforts to ensuring a very personal approach to student visits. She manages a spreadsheet populated with the ambassadors’ activities, interests, and academic course information. She then uses the data to match student ambassadors with prospective students for the Fire Family Visits. For example, if the prospective student likes math and basketball, Miller scours the spreadsheet and arranges one or more ambassadors with those courses and activities as the visit guides.
Holy Family enrollment increased by 21% this year; families joined our community over the summer and during the school year. Ambassadors pair with ninth-grade and transfer students to support students through their high school journeys and help with their transitions to Holy Family. They can reach out to their ambassador anytime they have questions or need advice from another student.
The 11th-grade ambassadors also lead BTC (Beyond the Classroom) sessions to pass on advice and help the ninth-grade class connect as classmates.
Building a Resume of Skills
The large group of volunteers allowed Miller to divvy up responsibilities by grade levels. The 11th-grade ambassadors focused on ninth-grade orientation and transition. The 12th-grade ambassadors led Fire Family Visits, and due to the heavily booked calendar of Fire Family Visits, junior and sophomore ambassadors also stepped in to lighten the load.
Ambassadors help with a wide variety of tasks including congratulatory videos for new applicants, follow-up tours, transfer orientation and mentorship, mailings, webinars, special events, and outreach to future Fire families.
Not only are their acquired skills significant additions to college resumes, but they are also life skills relevant to future opportunities at college and in careers.
Above all, it helps further instill the Holy Family commitment to serving your community by reaching out to others and helping them feel welcome and valued. And, the ambassadors remain eager to do so, often showing up for every opportunity offered.
Growing into Leaders
As our students lead more and more visits, their confidence grows. While always present for Fire Family Visits, the admissions team now steps back as the student ambassadors share their Holy Family journeys and answer questions about classes, activities, friendships, school lunches, and uniforms.
When asked questions about what they love most about their school, the most repetitive answer from our ambassadors has been, “I know it may sound cliché, but we really are a Family.”
As they listen from the back of the admissions center, Miller and Breimhorst feel like proud parents to their group of ambassadors. Miller recalls the moments listening to ambassadors’ stories, “Our ambassadors have told such amazing stories during these visits. They’ve warmed our hearts, made us laugh, and even cause me to shed a few tears, but they are all different and they all show our prospective families the impact of a Holy Family education.”
Breimhorst finds one of the largest gifts of the ambassador program is the authentic stories students share with visitors to our school. He says, “As a Holy Family parent, I can go on and on about what I love about this school. But when a prospective parent asks a question and receives a current student’s heartfelt answer and personal story, it becomes pretty hard to argue that Holy Family isn’t the best place for your kid.”
Admissions Associate Katie Miller leads our student ambassador program and shadow visit connections. She’s passionate about helping students use their talents to serve one another, our community, and new families. As a Holy Family mom, she is also happy to share her family’s personal Holy Family journey with families making the decision to attend Holy Family.