A new Advanced Academy will begin this fall at St. Bernard’s Central Catholic High School in Fitchburg,. Dr. Delma Josephson, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, announced that the Advanced Academy is a program that consists of pre-Advanced Placement classes in the 9th and 10th grades followed by Advanced Placement Classes in the 11tha and 12th grades. Students who are part of the Advanced Academy are expected to take 3 to 5 AP courses during their time at St. Bernard.
The program is open to all students even if they don’t take the entire program. According to Fr. John Daly, Curriculum Specialist for the Catholic Schools Office, “Our goal is to have 50% of more of the students take at least one AP course during their time at the school.” Fr. Daly will be helping to implement the program at the school for this academic year.
While there will be opportunities to take some of the courses online, the entire teaching staff of St. Bernard’s High School will be trained to teach at least one AP course by the beginning of the 2015 academic year. Using an approach called “blended-learning,” teachers will take advantage of advances in technology to broaden what they can teach both in the classroom and in their outside assignments. This training will raise the academic rigor of all the classes and will be of value to all students, whether they enroll in AP or not. It will also replace all honors courses since the highest level courses will be above what is generally considered honors level.
Incoming freshmen will have an opportunity to take entrance level assessment exams to identify their strengths and challenge areas for taking AP classes. Future years will offer the exams during the spring to those applying for 9th grade. Fr. Daly noted that technology is available to the teacher to monitor the students in the program so that they are not falling behind. The most exciting aspect of this Academy for a Catholic School is that the AP courses are still committed to the Catholic mission of the school. According to Dr. Josephson, “for instance, sanctity of life values must be addressed in biology, issues of social justice and Catholic social teaching in social studies and English, and so on.” Additionally, a commitment to community service continues to be part of the program, which, according to the school handbook, enables them to be “witness(ing) the message of Jesus Christ in order to foster life-long, sustaining Christian values.”
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