Starting next September, St. Mary’s Academy for grades 6 to 8 will open in Somers, as an extension of John F. Kennedy Catholic Preparatory School. Kennedy Catholic administrators have launched an outreach effort to enroll eligible area public school students.
“We’re taking registrants now and we intend to open in September 2022,” Father Mark Vaillancourt, principal and president of Kennedy Catholic, told CNY last week. “They’ll be in the west wing of the existing building. We’re now chartered to teach grades 6 through 12.
“Catholic education has done a tremendous job throughout the pandemic. We feel this is something that could be a good bridge to our public school parents, to try to give them the opportunity of the great education that we give here at Kennedy Catholic.”
Father Vaillancourt, who will also lead the middle school, said the venture will “increase our own footprint here in the northern Westchester area which has seen a number of schools close.”
The new academy, he said, is “being promoted by all the parishes up here in northern Westchester and Putnam County, and we’re going into (parish) religious education programs where these public school students are…Our goal is 20 students per grade for a total of 60. This is our first week of (admissions) testing. Our social media site is very active right now. We feel very good that we will meet our quota. We do have scholarship opportunities available.”
Father Vaillancourt is also pastor of St. Mary's parish in nearby Katonah. The middle school will be named St. Mary’s Academy as an acknowledgement of the parish’s involvement in establishing Kennedy Catholic. It will be co-ed just like the high school.
New faculty and existing Kennedy Catholic faculty will teach at St. Mary’s Academy.
Two years ago, the high school was renamed John F. Kennedy Catholic Preparatory School “to reflect the strong college preparatory platform that we have,” the principal noted.
John S. Burke Catholic High School in Goshen opened a middle school last September.
“Burke has seen a lot of success with the 6 to 12 model,” Father Vaillancourt said. “Especially outside the city where we don’t have a lot of grammar schools, we need to have a model that gets Catholic families back into the Catholic system…There are already congregational schools in the archdiocese that do this; so the religious orders already have had this for a number of years. It’s been very successful for them.”
Founded as St. Mary’s in 1924 by the Sisters of the Divine Compassion and located on 64 scenic acres, Kennedy Catholic provides state-of-the-art technology that includes SMART Boards, wireless internet, computer labs and a TV studio.
The outreach effort was announced Jan. 27. The announcement said that the middle school will be “in an academy setting on the high school campus at Kennedy Catholic. St. Mary’s Academy will open for the 2022-2023 school year with a limited capacity of one class per grade, with possible expansion planned for the future. St. Mary’s Academy will give families another choice for a superior Catholic education in northern Westchester County.”
In the release, Cardinal Dolan said, “This is great news for Catholic families in northern Westchester County as we all continue to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. The Catholic Church in New York introduced organized education to New York more than 200 years ago, and the academy’s formation is a move towards preserving and growing Catholic education in this area for generations.”
Schools office officials said St. Mary’s Academy will offer the same time-tested Catholic school curriculum and values-centered education available at all Catholic schools across the region. The program of studies will fulfill middle school educational standards of the state Board of Regents and will also challenge students to expand their educational horizons by studying languages other than English along with math, science and robotics.
While only public school students may apply to St. Mary’s Academy for the 2022-2023 school year, wider application opportunities will be available in the future, officials said. Information about eligibility and required admissions testing: www.KennedyCatholic.org/St-Marys-Academy