In late January, Archbishop Ryan Assistant Principal Jim Meredith e-mailed Holy Family University with a proposal.
Meredith wanted to see if Holy Family could offer some college-level courses to give Ryan students a foundation for college. Arthur Goon, the university’s new chief enrollment officer, worked with Meredith on the specifics of the plan.
Last week, top administrators at the high school, the university and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia signed off on a new partnership that will allow Ryan students to take courses to satisfy graduation requirements and count as credits upon enrollment at Holy Family. The courses will be offered beginning in September at the high school.
“High school students will get an invaluable taste of the college experience and will do it right on the third floor of Ryan,” Meredith said. “I think it’s going to be great for the school.”
Sister Francesca Onley, president of Holy Family, led cheers of “Go Holy Family” and “We are A.R.” during a March 20 news conference in Ryan’s auditorium. She said Holy Family will welcome the high school students as part of its family, adding that it’s a joy to join Ryan in sharing the responsibility to offer a values-based education to young people.
Onley, who was joined by university provost Sister Maureen McGarrity and four student ambassadors, said Holy Family is committed to supporting area Catholic high schools. The partnership will benefit families in these tough economic times, she said, by allowing their children to earn college credits for just $200 a course.
“In helping you,” she told the students, “we help your families. We help the people of Northeast Philadelphia.”
The archdiocese approves of the pact.
Bishop Michael Fitzgerald led the crowd in prayers and a blessing.
Carol Cary, superintendent of secondary schools, said the arrangement enhances the mission, core values and beliefs shared by both academic institutions.
Casey Carter, chief executive officer of the Faith in the Future Foundation, which manages the archdiocese’s 17 high schools, said one of the foundation’s tenets is to prepare students for higher education.
“You begin your college readiness the moment you walk in the door,” he told the students.
The agreement has three components: admissions and scholarship; dual credit; and continuing education.
Ryan graduates will be guaranteed admission into Holy Family as full-time students as long as they have at least a 2.5 grade point average. Holy Family will waive the admission application fees, provide financial aid workshops and award scholarships to qualified students.
Ryan will provide arrangements for Holy Family admissions and financial aid counselors to visit the school to meet with students.
In addition, Holy Family will waive application fees for Ryan teachers, administrators and employees who enroll in courses. Qualified Ryan staff members will also be eligible for grants.
Ryan president Mike McArdle and principal Helen Chaykowsky endorsed the agreement. So far, 76 juniors have applied, and they will be accepted based on academic credentials.
“We want to set them up for success,” said Meredith, assistant principal for academic affairs.
At least three courses will be offered per semester. Classes will take place either at the beginning or end of the regular school day.
The subject areas will include sociology, criminal justice/law enforcement, American popular culture/television and society, philosophy/ethics and early childhood development and learning.
Goon, the enrollment officer at Holy Family, said he hopes the agreement will serve as a model for developing similar partnerships between the university and other area Catholic high schools. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org