I’m often asked, “so how’s it going at West?” My typical reply is something relevant to what’s happening at the moment; enrollment is this, fundraising is that, our kids accomplished this academically or athletically. Now headed into my eighth school year at West Catholic Prep, and fourth as President, I took time this summer to reflect on this exact question; how are we doing?
Measuring success in academia is often and deservedly narrowed to numbers. However, our philosophy of education is rooted in the Lasallian philosophy of teaching the minds andtouching hearts. With this in mind, I will share a few examples of impact of which I’m most proud of.
In 2017, we introduced a religious retreat experience called Kairos. Kairos is an overnight(s) Christian retreat program geared toward deepening one’s faith, identity, relationships, and connection to God’s role in our lives. Our students let the time at the retreat take hold, and while many have never had any retreat or reflection experience, I’m struck upon their return how transformative this experience is for many. It is not unusual in my follow-up conversation to her them (now) reflect about God’s role in their life, and as one student shared, how they could more closely follow the teachings of Jesus!
In 2013, we created our Engineering Technology Academy. We knew our students were interested in Engineering and other STEM fields, so we began the process of trying to create a program to provide a foundation for such careers. We travelled to California to visit a model school to see it in action, partnered with Drexel to develop the curriculum, and secured the funding to underwrite the expenses. Today, 100 students are enrolled in the Engineering Technology Academy, and we have more then 10 recent graduates currently majoring in engineering in colleges and universities!
Just a few weeks ago students arrived back to campus to pick up their rosters for the upcoming school year. A few hours after the roster pickup session was completed, I noticed that almost none of the students had left! I was taken aback, here we are on a beautiful summer day, and these young people want to be in school? It’s because we have created a home for our students here on Chestnut street. Our students feel welcomed, they feel supported, and they feel loved when they are here.
Please understand that what is happening here does not happen at every school. It is only the finest of schools that are able to dream, to execute, and make real impact on young people – and we are amongst them. West Catholic Prep is truly a special place and I’m grateful to be a part of it.