Catholic Free Press

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  • Jul
  • 31

St. Bernard’s to offer AP program; longtime headmaster to retire

Posted By July 31, 2014 | 1:32 pm | Lead Story #2

FITCHBURG – A new Advanced Academy will begin this fall at St. Bernard Central Catholic High School, Delma Josephson, diocesan superintendent of Catholic Schools, announced.
She also announced the retirement of the school’s longtime headmaster, James Conry.
The superintendent said that the Advanced Academy is a program that consists of pre-advanced placement classes in the 9th and 10th grades, followed by AP classes in the 11th and 12th grades. Students who are part of the Advanced Academy are expected to take three to five AP courses during their time at St. Bernard’s.
The program is open to all students even if they don’t take the entire program.
According to Father John Daly, curriculum specialist for the school department, “Our goal is to have 50 percent or more of the students take at least one AP course during their time at the school.”
Father 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, according to information provided by the school department.
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, a press release from the Diocese stated. 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.
Father 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 Superintendent 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 “witness the message of Jesus Christ in order to foster life-long, sustaining Christian values.”
Mr. Conry, who began as headmaster in 2003 after having been a principal and a teacher, will retire this month. He has served the school for 25 years.
Superintendent Josephson announced that  Robert Blanchard, principal of the school since 2004,  “will continue to oversee the day-to-day administration of the school assuring a smooth start in the opening of the new academic year.
“This will give us the opportunity to evaluate the responsibilities of the headmaster in order to meet the needs of the future and then begin an appropriate search process.”
The Catholic Schools Office will assume the headmaster duties for the near-term.
Superintendent Josephson thanked Mr. Conry for his many years of dedication and service to the students, their families, the alumni and all the friends of St. Bernard’s in Fitchburg and the surrounding communities.
She said, “Jim was very generous with his time and talents to the school and we are grateful for sharing so much of himself with the St. Bernard’s community.”
She also noted that she is also grateful that “Jim has offered to be available to us to assist with some specific areas during this transition, including the international student program.”

– For more information about the Advanced Academy, parents and students can contact Mr. Blanchard at St. Bernard’s Central Catholic High School at 978-342-3212.