Director of Admissions Jonathan Nagy serves as advisor to the Bishop Carroll Student Ambassadors. He connects the grade schools more closely with Bishop Carroll. “Bishop Carroll does many things to connect with the schools,” he says. He’s heavily invested in the effort because he knows the vast benefits of Catholic education: close family setting, small classes, personal attention to each student, and most importantly, having Jesus Christ as the central focus of the learning. One of the ways they connect with students is through religious retreats.
“We reach elementary students through academic visit days, religious retreats, field days, monthly Junior Husky Newsletters, Junior High Sports, free passes for the grade school children to all Bishop Carroll events, the Halloween party, dances, movie nights, involvement in the drama club, Read Across America Day, and several more groups, clubs, sports and events,” Nagy says.
The five grade schools that partner with BC are Saint Benedict School, Carrolltown; Northern Cambria Catholic School, Nicktown; Saint Michael School, Loretto; All Saints Catholic School, Cresson; Holy Name School, Ebensburg. The ways Bishop Carroll connects with the grade schools in the area is extensive.
One of these connection points is the yearly Lenten retreat for grades 6-8. The retreat gives students the opportunity to come together to help develop their devotion to Christ. The day consists of communal prayer, individual prayer time, activities, games and reflection time. Another key aspect of the retreat: it is run by the Bishop Carroll Student Ambassadors and Student Evangelizers.
“It is great for the younger students to look up to the older students and see how strong they are in their faith and their willingness to share and lead,” Nagy says.
The connections aren’t made in vain, as an average of 75% of students from the partnering grade schools end up at Bishop Carroll. Of the remaining who go on to public schools, a majority of the parents cite financial reasons. Nagy agrees that Catholic high school costs more than Catholic grade school, but points to the abundance of financial aid opportunities that help families make it affordable.
Scott and Erin (Bodenschatz ’96) Becquet concur with Nagy regarding the multitude of benefits to Catholic education, and once they started they knew it was worth it – no matter what the cost. Their experiences make them something of an expert in Catholic education for the duration of a child’s education.
“Our oldest child started in public school, and for two years we saw him struggle. There came a moment when prayer led us to send him to the Catholic grade school near us (Holy Name) and he was almost immediately transformed both as a student and as a child,” Erin says. “When it came time for high school, the choice was very simple. No matter the cost, it would be worth it. And it has been so worth it. After experiencing the four years of high school with our first, the decision to allow our other four children to continue Catholic education into high school was very simple.”
The Becquet family will see five children through Catholic education: Evan, 17, a senior at Bishop Carroll; Emma, 15, a freshman at Bishop Carroll; Tobey, 13, 7th grade at Holy Name; Sophie 11, 5th grade at Holy Name; and Noah, 6, kindergarten at Holy Name.
While the benefits are extensive, the most noticeable one the Becquets recognize is seeing how their children are learning to live their faith. In grade school, there is a necessary emphasis on religion, and come high school, students are beginning to make life choices. The progression builds nicely to see them through their tenure in Catholic education. High school students are faced with difficult decisions and they have to learn to make many of them without their parents. The Becquets recognizes the huge benefit of their children being surrounded by other like-minded individuals.
“Having good friends and a good community of teachers, faculty and other parents that are all equally invested in raising good young adults helps the development of our children in so many ways,” Erin says.
That community is a staple in the lives of those who are a part of Bishop Carroll. The relationships forged in the four years there are strong and lasting, and that is the Becquet’s favorite part about the Bishop Carroll High School. The education is fantastic, and the family they become through the school is irreplaceable.
“Our children attend funerals for friends’ loved ones, they have learned what it’s like to grieve with friends, be supportive of those in need and that there’s always someone there for you no matter what the need. The family of friends we have all become will last forever. There are prior Bishop Carroll graduates already lined up to help our oldest as he heads off to college that are ready to help him find himself and become the best version of himself. It’s overwhelmingly humbling and comforting. It’s been my experience as a Bishop Carroll graduate and we’re so blessed that our children are the next generation of the Bishop Carroll family,” Erin says.