When I started as President of Bishop Kelley High School back in 2009, we engaged with the Littlefield Agency on a brand study that led to a new mission statement, new logos, and a renewed understanding of who we are and where we need to be. The brand study consisted of surveys and interviews with current students, parents, and teachers. It involved alumni input as well as the thoughts of future BK parents and students. It took months and led to mountains of data. What became clear about how people viewed us was a couple things:
- People saw BK as a Catholic school with good Christian values
- People saw BK as a well-rounded school with a niche for all students
- People saw BK as a school with a strong athletic culture and a growing fine arts programs
And much to the chagrin of our administration, faculty, and staff, people saw Bishop Kelley as a school that was academically behind other Tulsa area schools like Holland Hall, Cascia Hall and Booker T. Washington.
I remember when I first saw the results. I didn’t like it but thought that these impressions might be permanent and thus not worth the effort to change. But when David Littlefield and his team came to BK and presented to our faculty, I knew we had to do something about it. When the results were unveiled, many on the faculty were mad. They knew that our academics were the “real deal” and on par or better than these other schools. We had not done a great job of selling it.
So over the last few years, we’ve taken on that task. We want to let people know that, yes, Bishop Kelley is a Catholic school rooted in the 2000 year history of the Catholic Church. We make the Sacraments available to our students, encourage Vocations, teach Theology, and give our students ample opportunity to put their faith in action. And yes, we do seek to be well rounded offering a place for every student. We have 40 clubs, numerous sports, and that growing fine arts program is now blossoming to include hundreds of students each year. And, yes, our academic program is a very good one.
I typically hesitate to use the word “great” lest we become complacent but through a variety of factors including an outstanding faculty, increased summer offerings, increased before and after school tutoring, an expanded iConnect program, The Brother Bernardine Scholars Program, better access to technology, a more robust library program, ACT prep classes, and much more, our academic reputation has improved. What’s important to note is that our reputation has improved because our academics have improved. AP and ACT tests scores are at all time high. This year we had 10 National Merit -Semi-Finalists and 10 Commended Scholars, more than any private school in the State of Oklahoma and 3rd only to two large public high schools, one in the Tulsa area and one near Oklahoma City. This follows other years of similar success for National Merit recognition.
All this is to say, that Bishop Kelley Academics are the REAL DEAL. That perception, in comparison to our friends at other schools, hasn’t always been the case but our recent success is changing minds. With the recent appointment of our new Principal Jim Franz, I have no doubt that our upward trajectory will continue. With our largest freshman class ever about to start, we think the word is spreading!
God bless you!