The new school year at Santa Rosa/Bishop Alemany Catholic School in San Fernando was greeted with lots of happy faces smiling at the “big man on campus” visiting from Bishop Alemany High School Aug. 22.The 10-foot-tall inflatable balloon warrior mascot from neighboring Alemany in Mission Hills made the rounds shaking hands on the Santa Rosa parish school playground early on opening day at the T-K (transitional kindergarten) through eighth grade campus, where students were wearing new uniforms closely matching Alemany’s cardinal and gold school colors.Since Bishop Alemany took over administering Santa Rosa in the summer of 2011, the parish elementary school has experienced an increase in attendance from 145 to 230 students. Santa Rosa, in operation since 1955, has a long history of excellence, but, like many parish elementary schools, had previously struggled with declining enrollment exacerbated by the recent economic downturn.Ruben Cortez, school site administrator, credits the enrollment boost to a positive parish and community buzz about the school since it became affiliated with Bishop Alemany. Frank Ferry, principal of Bishop Alemany, heads a two-member team of Alemany administrators who oversee Santa Rosa. Besides physical plant improvements, including painting and interior renovations, the school’s administrative team has updated campus technology capabilities and implemented the Catapult Learning program to train teachers in long-term common core curriculum planning. “As new parents have come in, they only have positive things to say [such as] ‘We’ve heard a lot of good things about the school,’ and ‘We’re excited about the connection with Alemany,’” noted Cortez. “That’s been very, very positive for us.”Returning and new families appreciated students’ tutoring opportunities on campus during the 2011-12 school year with visiting Bishop Alemany students. Santa Rosa junior high students last year also had the option of taking an afternoon art class at Alemany, and school administrators hope to add more enrichment classes this year.“From the beginning of last year to now, I think the transition has been miraculous with the growth of the school and returnees,” said Mary Killmond, Santa Rosa religion coordinator.“I see a real shift toward a more serious attitude toward academics. We’re going to do a lot of things this year that we haven’t done before such as retreats for every grade level,” added Killmond.The affiliation with Bishop Alemany “has been excellent,” she continued. “They’re very supportive and involved. They came and did assemblies — the band came, the cheerleaders came.“It just gives the kids a tremendous boost and a sense of what’s next. Before that, I don’t know how many students even went to Catholic high school. We’re getting a lot of them to go on to Alemany now. I think parents are very happy to have them here.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0831/santarosa/{/gallery}