As a response to the increasing demand for a rigorous Catholic college prep secondary school on the city's north side, St. Benedict Parish in North Center has moved forward with a bold merger of its parish schools to meet the need expressed by discerning parents. Currently, St. Benedict is the only Preschool through Grade 12 Catholic co-ed school in the Archdiocese of Chicago and we're seizing on the opportunity to utilize our unique resources to create a new educational model for Catholic education in the city. With the highest enrollment in nine years at the elementary school level, the formerly named Schools of St. Benedict announced their Project Vision of Excellence, a coordination of unique school resources to build a rigorous secondary academic program that aligns with an already successful elementary school program.
St. Benedict Preparatory Schools (SBPS) opened for the 2010-2011 school year, headed by the former principal, Ms. Rachel Gemo. As the new CEO of SBPS, she works with school leaders, continuing to run the growing Early Childhood, Primary and Intermediate school programs and aligning the secondary program (grades 6-12). This includes increasing academic rigor by expanding the advanced college preparatory core and elective course offerings that prepare students for post-secondary success.
"By aligning our current middle school and high school programs, we are able to offer a specialized college prep program beginning as early as 6th grade for many students," said CEO, Rachel Gemo. "Other aspects of the project expands the current middle school one to one laptop program to the high school level, offering increased high school elective courses such as Music and Band, and extending online advanced placement (AP) courses through Northwestern University Center for Talent Development," she said.
The new organizational structure focuses on enhancing the mission advancement as well. "As plans to support this unified vision for academic excellence unfol d, the community will witness our unique commitment to outstanding faith based education and long-term community building," acknowledged Father Robert Beaven, pastor of St. Benedict Catholic Church. “There are also plans to align secondary student service projects with parish ministry programs. “
St. Benedict Preparatory School's partnerships also expand beyond the parish community. One of our partnerships is in its sixth year with DePaul University as a Professional Development School. SBPS will continue mentoring future teachers as well as receive teacher training and program development assistance from DePaul faculty.
According to newly appointed SBPS Mission Advancement Officer, Mr. Joe G. Accardi, "The school is in a unique position to offer the community something they cannot find elsewhere in the area. First, students will benefit from a college prep program beginning in the sixth grade. And middle school students showing proper aptitude will be able to take courses in core curricular areas before ninth grade—therefore enabling them to take more AP or dual credit courses when in the 11th or 12th grade. And as before, families will continue to be able to have their younger child in the elementary program and their older child in the secondary school program, both attending the same campus, and cutting down on transportation costs."
SBPS high school offers programs to help students receive a well-rounded educational experience, and now offer a strengthened fine arts department which will include a complete band program, music courses, and drama opportunities. This is being realized through the comprehensive vision and coordination of resources of the parish schools under Project Vision of Excellence in order to create a unique educational experience.
According to the Head of Elementary School (K-5) Mrs. Nancy Feely, “Our students continue to engage in ongoing portfolio assessment along with project-based learning that involves setting learning goals, reflecting on the work, and presenting it to others. This also makes SBPS unique."
"St. Benedict has a history of preparing young people for life-long learning through academic excellence, personal growth through spiritual formation, and a commitment to community and Christian stewardship,” acknowledged Mrs. Tammy Jeffery, Elementary School Advisory Board Chair. “We look to Project Vision of Excellence to continue this legacy."
For more information on the project, go to Project Vision of Excellence