When Aaron Dominguez ‘96 was named the 27th principal of St. Thomas and first layman to serve that role in the institution’s illustrious history, the school was recognized as one of the most achieving all-boys schools in the nation, acclaimed among the top-five institutions in the state and top 50 in the country based on SAT and ACT scores, college admissions, matriculation rates, parent surveys, culture and diversity grades, and student-teacher ratio.
Since being named chief academic officer in June 2017, Dominguez has extended his “hands-on approach” to include a demonstrative role in the admissions process to further push St. Thomas strategically forward with a standard that respects and balances demanding academics in equal priority with a student’s personal exploration.
Dominguez believes “the new dynamic” will deliver immediate dividends beginning with the Class of 2022.
“More than 25% of our incoming freshmen scored in the top percentile of the HSPT (High School Placement Test) and ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam),” Dominguez said. “We’re pulling students across a wide variety of Catholic, private and public schools who are uniquely equipped both academically and spiritually to be the right fit at St. Thomas. In discussing our outcome with some highly respected superiors within the Houston pedagogy community, they are genuinely impressed with the quality and depth of our incoming class.”
Dominguez teamed with assistant principal Mary Criaco and the St. Thomas Admissions team in assembling an incoming freshmen class that portrays firm criteria essential to the Basilian mission and the school’s diversity and inclusivity commitment.
Criaco agrees that “this is one of the strongest academic classes St. Thomas has accepted in recent years when you evaluate test scores, previous performance and recommendations. There’s great range … athletes, musicians, debaters, actors … offering a deep variety of backgrounds and individual strengths. Many of the young men who will be arriving here are already on their way to becoming Men of St. Thomas both in terms of their skills and pursuits.”
Criaco and Dominguez adopted and implemented a fresh calculated approach to the admissions outreach, digging deep to target prospects in the demographic forecast.
“It was important for us to gauge how many ‘touches’ we had with a prospective student, how many times had they been on our campus, how often and to what degree had their parents been active in our events,” Dominguez said. “That process allows us to interact on a number of levels to see how they fit into our culture, our student body, our community, plus utilizing one-on-one interviews in an intimate setting.
“I asked parents directly, ‘What are you bringing to St. Thomas?’ I asked students, ‘What are you bringing to St. Thomas?’ Our analytics reflect that the most successful graduates are those with a great passion for St Thomas in its totality, and that’s what we believe our incoming freshmen represent.”
Those students will directly establish a four-year college preparatory plan with a team of savvy college admission counselors who work closely with universities across the country to forge relationships between St. Thomas students and admissions representatives. The Naviance Family Connection is an essential tool that supports a college-bound ethic by encouraging students to explore post-secondary educational options and organizing the college application process.
The Class of 2022 will be welcomed by a tech-packed 9,000 square foot redevelopment for Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Sciences and STEM, fostering an interactive community and culture for creative thinking and innovation.