ELMHURST — Social and political chaos dominated 1968, with the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert Kennedy, as well as violent protests over U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
The faculty of Cathedral Preparatory School and Seminary saw the need to divert young men from the turmoil. So they developed a summertime program that fed their spiritual development, basic academics, and teamwork via organized sports.
The annual month-long Troike program returns this year, July 5-29, at the Cathedral Prep campus in Elmhurst, Queens.
Just as much has changed in the U.S. since 1968, the program has also evolved. This year brings a new slate of activities for boys participating from grades 6, 7, and 8.
The morning academics portion helps them prepare for high school and the Test for Admission into Catholic High Schools (TACHS) by building knowledge in religion, science, English/Language Arts, and math. But theater arts were added in recent years. And this summer, for the first time, is journalism and creative writing.
“We’re always evaluating and always trying to grow to make things better,” said Father James Kuroly, rector and president of the school.
The afternoon athletics continues to foster teamwork and camaraderie, but new this year is a soccer clinic.
“We try our best to keep things updated and exciting for the kids,” said Deacon Phil Franco, assistant principal and director of the program. “In our organized games, there will be soccer this year, which we’ve never had before to my knowledge. But there was a little more of a call for soccer than ever before.”
And last year, the program added video games.
“There are those young people who don’t like playing sports,” Father Kuroly said. “And we respect that. So there’s opportunities for them in the cafeteria where they can play chess, ping pong, other board games, and video games.”
Also new this year will be on-site lunches. In years past, students brought their own food, but now they can buy meals in the cafeteria.
“It usually shuts down for the summer, but this year, we will have it open,” Father Kuroly said. “That’s one of the things that the parents consistently asked for the last couple of years.”
The program’s evolution included a name change in the early years, from “Summer Program.”
Leading its development was popular math teacher Father Ed Troike, who died five years later of cancer at age 44. The school honored his memory by renaming it the Father Troike Leadership Program.
“That leadership part was training our students to be counselors, and to really take upon a leadership role of service and of a servant leader,” Father Kuroly said. “Over the years, obviously, it has been a great recruitment tool.
“A lot of those who go to Troike ended up coming to the school, such as myself.”
The lead counselor this year is Daniel Schilling, who will be in the 11th grade this fall.
“The summer program speaks to the message of Cathedral Prep, which is forming men for greatness,” Schilling said.
His brother, John (Class of 2018) is still involved as the associate director and the school’s new admissions and enrollment coordinator.
“It’s a full-circle moment for me,” John Schilling said. “I was a student here at Cathedral, and I worked as a (Troike) counselor for three summers. I used to sit in on classes when I was a counselor, and now I teach a class, which is really cool. I couldn’t have imagined that I would be doing that many years ago.”
The cost is $500 for the entire month. Lunch costs extra, but on a per meal basis.
“Because it is summer and some people may go away on vacation, we encourage students who are only able to come for one, two, or three weeks to still come anyway,” John Schilling said. “We adjust the price accordingly. Each week costs $125, essentially, but we prefer if students come for the full program so that they can get the most out of it.”
Parents can fill out a registration form and pay the $500 fee by logging on to cathedralprep.org or calling the admissions office at 718-592-6800 Ext.150. For more information email John Schilling at firstname.lastname@example.org.