Ask a student at Badin High School what they like about the co-ed Catholic school in Hamilton and they’re likely to tell you it is the friendly, welcoming environment, says Dirk Allen, director of admissions and media relations. It’s something that’s evolved at Badin since it opened its doors 50 years ago next year.

“There’s an emphasis on faith formation,” says Allen. “Fifteen percent of our students are not Catholic. We say we want you to grow in your faith regardless of what that faith is. We do a good job preparing students all across the board for life after Badin High School.”

It’s a message resonating with students as enrollment has grown steadily over the last five years from 450 during the recession to 530 students today, coming from across Butler County, parts of Warren County, northern Cincinnati and Southeast Indiana.

“We cast a wide net,” Allen says. “Because if someone is interested in your school they’ll come a long way to get here.’’

The student-to-teacher ratio is 14 to 1, and tuition next year will be $8,840 per student. “We work hard to keep tuition affordable,” says Allen, and the school offers financial aid and scholarships.

“We feel we’re small enough that the students know each other and get along well, but large enough that we get a lot of attention for many of the things we do.”

Named after Father Stephen T. Badin, the first Catholic priest ordained in the United States, the grades 9-12 school opened its doors on New London Road in 1966 with the closing of the all-boys Hamilton Catholic High and all-girls Notre Dame High School.

There’s a focus on college preparation at Badin. Over the last several years, 96 percent of graduates have gone on to college.

Recently, Badin has stepped up its emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math classes.

“We’ve really focused efforts on that, and we feel we’re ahead of the curve now,” says Allen. “All of our students have iPads, and that’s gone very well. We’ve added an engineering class this year through Project Lead The Way,” a national nonprofit that fosters STEM education.

Badin has 80 students enrolled in the first engineering class elective and plans to expand it with additional engineering classes over the next couple years.

Additionally, Badin has added robotics courses engaging students in planning, designing and building robots, and game theory classes exploring the complexities of building computer applications for education, management and amusement.

Extracurricular activities from fine arts to sports are a big part of Badin life. About 90 percent Badin students participate in some form of extracurricular activity, Allen says. Last fall, the Rams’ girls’ soccer team won the Ohio Division III championship for the second year in a row and for the third time since 2005.

Looking ahead, next year Badin will be focusing on its 50th anniversary first by celebrating its predecessor high schools, Hamilton Catholic and Notre Dame, and then its 50th graduating class.

The school is also planning a strategic funding initiative to enhance its facilities and its financial aid. Its last big fundraising effort was about a decade ago, raising $3 million to build the Pfirman Family Activity Center.