Kindergarten students take part in class activities at Cheverus Catholic Elementary School in Malden Jan. 25. Pilot photo/Donis Tracy
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MALDEN -- Cheverus Catholic Elementary School principal Tom Arria is a man who loves his school. Its students, its faculty, its sense of community -- all of these add up to a school Arria is proud to lead.
And as much as Arria is proud to lead the school, the schoolchildren and staff are equally proud to have him as their head. Walking through the cafeteria, multiple children jump out of their seats to greet him, some with high-fives, others with hugs.
It is obvious that this is a relationship of mutual admiration.
His enthusiasm has yielded great results. In the two years he has been principal at the school, enrollment has markedly increased -- from 257 students last year to 339 students this year.
"We realized that we were losing so many families," he explained. "And so we began a concerted effort to increase enrollment."
Arria said that when he began speaking to Malden residents, he realized that many people did not know that the school -- formerly known as Cheverus Centennial School -- was a Catholic school. Realizing that the name did not reflect the school's identity, he petitioned the Catholic Schools Office and had the school name officially changed to Cheverus Catholic.