Our Youth

Catholic Secondary School Education: A Return on Investment that Speaks Volumes

Graduates from the Class of 2019 at Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood. (Photo: Archbishop Molloy H.S.)

By Brother Ralph Darmento, F.S.C.

As August made its appearance on the calendar, the thoughts of parents and, even a few students, sparked images of a return to school. For some, these ponderings might focus on the unknowns: questioning whether one’s athletic competence and skills will lead to a place on a school team, or having the right qualifications to embrace the rigors of an honors program, the college credit opportunities afforded or the challenges presented by an advanced placement course. And, of course, the answer to the question, Will I secure the leading role in the musical or drama production?

Well, not to fear! If all goes as is tradition, those ponderings will culminate in the laureate. And here’s a partial reason: the Class of 2019, numbering 2,683 students, had a 100 percent graduation rate. And 97 percent of these graduates are moving on to college/university programs. Their dream colleges are located in local and distant venues.

The graduates of our 18 Catholic secondary schools will be studying at Boston College, Catholic University of America, Fordham, Georgetown, Holy Cross, Kings College, La Salle, Manhattan College, Notre Dame, Providence, St. John’s, Trinity and Villanova to cite a sampling of the Catholic institutions of higher learning claiming at least one of our graduates.

Others will be matriculating at Carnegie Mellon, Cooper Union, Cornell, Duke, Penn State, UPenn, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Lehigh, NYU, Syracuse, RPI and WPI. Many will be continuing their studies at the various branches of SUNY and CUNY and Macaulay Honors College.

And there are proud young women and men who will be preparing to assume leadership roles in our country’s service as they pursue a baccalaureate degree at West Point, Annapolis, the US Air Force Academy and the US Coast Guard Academy.

In addition to being accepted and enrolling at many prestigious colleges/universities, our graduates have earned $610 million in scholarships. And more than 300 members (not a complete reporting here) of the Class of 2019 move on to their next challenge fortified with advanced standing due to accumulating college credits in their secondary schools or through the College Board Advanced Placement Program or the International Baccalaureate Program; achievements to be cherished; accomplishments to be commended!

Obviously there is much more to the benefits our students receive in our Catholic secondary schools. Interviewing students at several schools leads me to affirm that these schools are faithful to their mission of educating young people for the future and encouraging the practice of faith for life.

For example, Carl spoke of the opportunity to perform Christian service; Meghan cherished the retreats in which she experienced a sense of community and of the awareness of God in her life; Pedro took an
active part in student government which he said “gave me the tools for developing my leadership abilities.”

The nurturing of a spiritual life, enhancing character, advancing leadership, providing opportunities to participate in Eucharistic liturgy and prayer are values that are fostered, taught and caught by our students.

All of the fruits of a Catholic education at any level are rooted in the professionalism of our educators and leaders, the commitment of our trustees, the dedication and example of our alumni/ae, and the philanthropy of friends and community who contribute mightily to our schools.  Wow! This is a really significant return on the investment that a family makes when choosing a Catholic secondary education for their children.

This year marks this writer’s 50th anniversary of graduating from Bishop Loughlin M.H.S in Fort Greene. Taking a walk through the school now and, I would claim, any of the secondary schools in Brooklyn and
Queens will take an alum through advanced interactive labs, mentorship and intern programs, digital classrooms, partnerships with colleges/universities, blended learning programs, distance, project and research learning, classrooms that encourage discussion and collaborative learning and, of course, excellent teaching and experiences of real world learning.

The Catholic secondary schools of Brooklyn and Queens are “touching the hearts, nurturing the souls, kindling the minds and inspiring the lives of the young people entrusted to our care.” The return on an investment in Catholic secondary education is priceless!

Brother Ralph, F.S.C., is the deputy superintendent in the Office of Catholic Schools.