Archbishop Ryan High School junior Nick Roche attended last week’s Rotary Club of Frankford-Northeast meeting to thank members for sponsoring his participation in a recent program.
Seventy-eight high school students took part in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program, which took place Feb. 24-26 at the Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge.
The program encourages citizenship and personal growth.
“It was really a learning experience, but we had fun with it as well,” Roche said.
Roche showed pictures of the experience. His 11-member team was named Best Team. Its name was Team Linsanity, chosen to honor New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, who has become an overnight superstar in the NBA.
For the talent show, he performed a salsa dance with a Venezuelan exchange student. He plans to stay in touch with many of the new friends he met.
At Ryan, he is part of the 24-member student council and will run for student body president in late April. He also makes the morning sports announcements on Ryan’s TV news show. His favorite announcer remains Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, who died in 2009.
The teen was accompanied to the March 13 meeting by Ryan president Mike McArdle and director of advancement Bill Brady.
McArdle discussed the roller-coaster school year, which started with a nearly two-week strike by teachers and continued with recommended school closings in January.
Of course, a tremendous outpouring of money led Archbishop Charles J. Chaput to reject a blue ribbon commission’s recommendation that St. Hubert, Conwell-Egan, West Catholic and Monsignor Bonner/Archbishop Prendergast close due to operating deficits and declining enrollment.
“There’s never been a school year like this one,” said McArdle, who has worked in Archdiocese of Philadelphia high schools since 1977.
McArdle said now is no time for the 17 high schools to become complacent.
“Many challenges still face us as we go forward,” he said.
McArdle noted that tuition will rise $250 next year to $5,850. The school president sympathizes with parents struggling to pay tuition, particularly if they’ve lost a job due to layoff or illness.
Over the next five years, the archdiocese and its supporters hope to raise $120 million for schools. High schools would receive $100 million, and the rest would go to elementary schools.
“We have a challenge ahead of us,” McArdle said.
McArdle acknowledged that Catholic high schools have lost enrollment to charter schools.
“It’s not going to cost you five-thousand, eight-hundred and fifty dollars to go to a charter school,” he said. “It’s free.”
McArdle is a fan of the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit program, which gives tax credits to companies that donate money to scholarship organizations, which in turn provide tuition-assistance funds to non-public schools.
Businesses that want to support Ryan through the EITC can contact Brady at 215-637-1800, Ext. 286 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rotary Club of Frankford-Northeast meets every Tuesday from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. at Cannstatter’s, at 9130 Academy Road. ••EndFragment