Trying to diversify classrooms usually filled with Hispanic students, Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami will enroll four African American students and one with roots in the Philippines in the upcoming school year.
After taking the entrance exam in December, the five male students were notified of their admission, and last week joined other students and their families admitted for next year in a tour of the boys-only school in southwest Miami-Dade. Belen has a middle school for grades 6-8, and a high school for grades 9-12. The students will be entering in the sixth grade.
“It is a blessing to move this project forward,” Belen President Fr. Guillermo Garcia-Tuñón told el Nuevo Herald. “We are trying to educate more youths who didn't know our work, either because of distance or a different culture.”
Belen worked with Breakthrough Miami in identifying the five students. Breakthrough Miami is a non-profit that works with middle and high school students to develop their academic skills so they can attend top colleges and universities.
With a predominantly Hispanic student population, Belen launched a plan in August to diversify its student body socially, economically and racially.
García-Tuñón said it's not the first time Belen has tried to diversify its student body. Plan Agape, launched about 10 years ago, brought in several African American students but the project was suspended for lack of funds.
The Jesuit priest said that since the school's founding in Havana in 1854 and its forced relocation to Miami in 1961, the institution has focused on providing a Jesuit education “to as many youths as possible.”
“We focus on educating men for others,” he said, “leaders for the community.”