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LEI Reaches Alaska! A Conversation with Principal Brian Ross of Lumen Christi High School in Anchorage

By Kenna Arana

LEI Reaches Alaska_Lumen Christi HS

During the 2022–2023 school year, Principal Brian Ross participated in the Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) with a team of fellow educators at Lumen Christi High School. Since participating in the LEI, the school has seen a substantial increase in enrollment and has also welcomed new staff members who can help meet the needs of the increasingly diverse students they are serving. While the focus of the LEI is to provide Catholic schools with strategies to better attract and serve Latino families, Principal Ross is also using the practices he learned to welcome more Filipino and Samoan families to Lumen Christi. We recently caught up with Principal Ross to find out more about how the school has been doing since the LEI. Check out our conversation below:

Lumen Christi HS_Brian Ross and Staff
Brian Ross (left) with members of the staff at Lumen Christi High School.

How and why did you/your school get involved with the Latino Enrollment Institute?

I came across some information about the LEI while going through the Catholic School Leadership Certificate Program at Creighton University. It seemed like a great opportunity to learn ways that we could encourage more Latino families to attend Lumen Christi, especially since we have a large and vibrant Hispanic community here in Anchorage.

How long have you been at Lumen Christi?

I just started my seventh year here as principal. As the principal of a small school, I'm blessed to also be able to teach a few classes each semester so I get to see a different side of the students (and they get to see a different side of me!)

What is one of the main things you and your team learned/took away from the LEI?

The major takeaway for me was being conscious and deliberate about celebrating the diversity of cultures and backgrounds we have among our student body. While our students are predominantly white, we also have many Latino, Filipino, Alaska Native, and Samoan students. We want to make a rigorous Catholic education like that which we provide at Lumen Christi available to as many students as possible!

How have the demographics of Lumen Christi changed since you've been at the school?

I've been pleased by our enrollment growth (96 students total last year; 131 students this year), which has included a wide variety of racial, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. We were also able to offer a full-time position to Deacon Gus Azpilcueta—a native Spanish speaker—who had been teaching Spanish here part-time for a year and who has participated in the LEI. He brings a wealth of knowledge in science and, of course, Theology, but he is most popular among our students for his exciting and engaging Spanish I and II classes (we're hoping to add Spanish III and IV in coming years). Our hallways are filled with students greeting each other in Spanish throughout the day, led by Deacon Gus' presence! We also hired a wonderful Front Office Assistant who is super organized and friendly, and she is a Spanish speaker as well. It is such a delight to hear Kim Guzmán talking to many of our families in Spanish on the phone when they call throughout the day.

Lumen Christi HS_Anchorage AK
(Left to Right: Bilingual Front Office Assistant, Kim Guzmán; Día de los Muertos altar at the school this year; Deacon Guz Azpilicueta

What strategies were you practicing before the LEI to attract Latino families? What are you doing differently after participating in the LEI?

The school had not been doing much to deliberately attract Latino families—or even Samoan and Filipino families for that matter. The LEI has shown us the importance of making sure that people of all backgrounds feel welcome in our school. Using some of the principles I learned at the LEI, I recently struck up a conversation with a Samoan family who attends the parish to which our school is connected, but whose children did not attend the school. Following that conversation, and after walking them through the building and showing them how their daughter could actually attend the school, they enrolled her as a 7th grader. Divine Mercy just started her junior year and is doing wonderfully. So beyond Latino families, the concepts and principles that the LEI shares—especially about emphasizing that "All are Welcome"—have proven successful here at Lumen Christi.

Applications to join LEI Cohort 12 in the 2024–25 school year are open now. To learn more or apply, click the link below. If you have any questions about the Latino Enrollment Institute, please contact LEI Coordinator Jocelyn Smith (


Learn more about the Latino Enrollment Institute

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