1733 W. GIRARD AVENUE | PHILADELPHIA, PA 19130 ACADEMIC ADMINISTRATION PRESIDENT: REV. JOHN W. SWOPE, SJ ‘72 ASST. PRINCIPAL: ROSE MARIE KETTINGER
PRINCIPAL: JASON M. ZAZYCZNY ‘90 FACULTY CHAIR: SCOTT MULLEN ‘99
AT OUR CORE, ST. JOSEPH’S PREP STANDS FOR STELLAR ACADEMICS— A HALLMARK OF THE SCHOOL SINCE ITS FOUNDING IN 1851. Then, the Jesuits formed the school to help educate the children of the more than 100,000 Catholics who had arrived in Pennsylvania. While our building has moved and been modernized quite a bit since then, our commitment to high-level education and to training young men to be leaders who make changes in our world remains at the core of our mission to this day. As a proud graduate of the Prep, I can say without a doubt that the curriculum here challenged me and prepared me for college and life beyond that. Our faculty— women and men who have devoted themselves to our Jesuit educational model— are master teachers who also form young men of competence, conscience and compassion. This combination of a challenging curriculum and engaged, exceptional teachers makes our school a unique, educational leader in the Delaware Valley. I can say from experience that students will work hard at the Prep; but that hard work allows them to meet goals and gain accomplishments they may have never before imagined. We help students find their PASSIONS! Classmates push each other to be the best, and in the process, become brothers and connections that last forever. A Prep education demands that students do their best in all facets of school life--in the classroom, on the stage, on the fields, and in all as that is what a Jesuit education calls us to do: to live for the Greater Glory of God (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, or as we say, “AMDG”). Success arises, not simply because of who our students are, but because of who they are together. THAT is the Prep Difference. This document details what makes a Prep academic education so special. While we proudly offer a strong, classical curriculum, we are ever-mindful of the changing educational styles and diverse students and learning styles in our midst. The pages in the latter half of this brochure detail advances in our STEM program, an example of that. Welcome to Academics at the Prep...and discover why the top students in the Philadelphia region continue to choose St. Joseph’s Preparatory School for their high school education. Sincerely,
Jason M. Zazyczny ’90 Principal
St. Joseph’s Preparatory School proudly prepares its students for the nation’s finest colleges and universities through a challenging and traditional academic program.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses are offered in 17 areas of study. Every student who takes an AP course will sit for the AP exam in May, and many receive college credit as a result of their performance. That is because Prep AP students perform well above the national and local average; in 2018, 74% achieved a score of 3 or higher (on a scale of 1-5), higher than the state and national average. Admission to all AP courses requires the approval of the academic department chairs and the selection process is highly competitive.
At the Prep, our core curriculum is structured to ensure that students receive knowledge on a wide array of subjects so that all who graduate have a rich background in the humanities, mathematics, science and the Classics.
GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS (starting with class of 2021)
ENGLISH MATHEMATICS/ COMPUTER SCIENCE RELIGIOUS STUDIES SCIENCE HISTORY CLASSICS & MODERN LANGUAGE FINE ARTS ELECTIVES
4 credits 4 credits 4 credits 3 credits 3 credits 5 credits* 1 credit 2 credits
*Students must take a minimum of two credits each of Latin and Modern Language plus one additional credit in one or the other. They may choose to take more as well.
To graduate from the Prep, a student must earn a minimum of 26 academic credits, satisfy the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requirement for physical education, and fulfill community service requirements through our Ignatian Service Program.
AP COURSES: Biology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, Computer Science, English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, European History, Human Geography, Latin, Physics C: Mechanics, Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism, Psychology, Spanish Language and Culture, Statistics, US Government and Politics, US History
GRADING SCALE A: 100-93
NEW SCHEDULE Last year, St. Joseph’s Prep introduced an exciting new class schedule. This change was made to ensure that the Prep’s high quality education is being delivered in the best possible format so that our students are fully equipped to learn at the highest level, based on the most up-to-date research and best educational practices. THE NEW SCHEDULE INCLUDES: • An 8-day cycle in which classes rotate throughout the day and cycle • Days consisting of one 65-minute class, five 45-minute classes, a 50-minute community period and a 30-minute lunch • Courses that meet a minimum of 6 times in the 8-day cycle on a rotating schedule
• School day starting at 8:25 a.m. each day except on Wednesdays when class will begin at 9:15 a.m. to allow for faculty/staff meetings • A 50-minute structured community period incorporated into four class days a week • First semester exams that take place prior to Christmas break
CHAIR: MICHAEL DOUGHERTY, M.A. ’93
CHAIR: CHRISTIAN PATRAGNONI, M.A.
CHRISTOPHER DESIMONE, M.A. MEREDITH MORGAN, M.A. SCOTT MULLEN, M.A. ’99
SUSAN COOK, M.S.ED. JOSEPH COYLE, M.A. JOSEPH GRIFFIN, M.A. KEVIN KEARNEY, M.A. ’06 THOMAS LEDERER ‘13, B.A.
JONATHAN POHLIG, M.A. ’02 ANNE PRIMICK, M.A. MICHAEL SOKOLOWSKI ‘08, B.A.
LESLIE MCKINLEY, M.A. DR. CHRIS RUPERTUS, PH.D. KATHLEEN SULLIVAN, M.S.ED. ANDREW WHELAN, M.S.
Latin I-III, Honors Latin I-II, Honors Latin II/Greek I, AP Latin
English I-IV, Honors English I-II, AP English III, AP English IV
ELECTIVES Ancient Comedy, Ancient Tragedy, Classical Mythology and Archaeology, Honors Greek II-III, Latin IV, Honors Latin IV, Rome: From Augustus to Constantine, Rome: From Romulus to Caesar COURSE SPOTLIGHT
ELECTIVES 20th Century African-American Literature, Censorship in Literature, Literature and Film, Literature of Northern Ireland, Personal Writing, Poetry, Public Speaking, Science Fiction, Shakespeare
CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY This upper-level elective is intended for students who have enjoyed their exposure to Classical Studies but want to explore more of the history and culture rather than the language. Started in the 1970s by legendary Prep teacher Dr. Henry Bender ’63, the course is now taught by department chair Michael Dougherty ’93 and is tailored each year to the interests of the students. “It’s a survey of the gods and goddesses in the classical pantheon,” says Dougherty, “but we are still able to go in a different direction each time the course is offered. We tend to focus more heavily on literature, but we are able to add other perspectives from one year to the next. Some years we focus more on art, other years we have read the Iliad. There is flexibility with the course to give students a good base in the material while also pursuing other aspects of mythology.” For Dougherty, this elective is different from much of the department’s offerings. “Our Classics courses are very heavily focused on the language acquisition,” he says. “This is a chance for students who may want to supplement that or change their focus but still use their Classics roots.”
CENSORSHIP & LITERATURE English teacher Joe Coyle is considered by many to be one of the toughest teachers in the school. So how come this senior elective course fills immediately? “Every year, I start by telling the students that you didn’t come here for easy,” says Coyle. “Easy doesn’t teach us anything.” The “Censorship” class is anything but easy. Students are challenged by reading and annotating a book every three weeks; with each work comes a comprehension test, extensive in-class discussion and an exhaustive essay at the end. “My goal is to develop a love of reading,” says Coyle. “I’m a male teacher of male students so I choose ‘guy’ books. In some ways, it may seem like I’m conning them into it but honestly, the messages of the books we read are so meaningful. The books we read teach life lessons.” Over the years, the class evolved. Early on, Coyle chose books from the American Library Association’s list of books that had been banned over the years. Since then, Coyle has changed the works to include those that challenge students’ view of the world, including Fight Club, Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream as well as a focus on the HBO series, The Wire, which is based on the books The Corner and Homicide by David Simon. “I tell the students that you should never read anything without grabbing something out of it that can affect your life,” says Coyle.
CHAIR: JEREMY FOLDESY, M.F.A., M.A.T. JESSICA CLARK, M.F.A. DEBORAH HILTON, M.A. MATTHEW SCHWARTZ, M.M.ED. ’02
CHAIR: DAVID FORTIN, M.A. KATE AMBROSE, M.A. DR. JOHN BERNA, PH.D. WILLIAM CONNERS, M.A. ’80 DR. WILLIAM GILLESPIE, PSY.D.
PAUL LYNCH, M.ED. KATHRYN QUINTER, J.D. LEO VACCARO, M.A. ’05 BETHANY WEED, M.A.
World History, American History, AP American History, Government, AP Government
ELECTIVES Ceramics I-II, Drawing, Graphic Design I-II, Music Theory and Aural Skills, Painting, Styles and Analysis in Music, Western Art History I-II COURSE SPOTLIGHT
MUSIC THEORY & AURAL SKILLS Prep students interested in music, even perhaps a career in the field, can opt to take this course which is “very hands-on and practice-oriented,” says Matt Schwartz ’02, head of the Music Program. Mirrored on college-level curriculum, students will master both basic fundamentals and advanced concepts of music theory, notation, melodic/harmonic analysis, rhythmic accuracy, and ear training. “This class is for musicians only,” says Mr. Schwartz, who approves each of the students who register. He says that several students will major or minor in music in college and seek careers in performance, music tech, or music industry. This course also utilizes state-of-the-art technology. All students enrolled gain access to Noteflight, a composition software that offers instant feedback. Mr. Schwartz can also use the technology to annotate or offer his notes while students edit their compositions. “It’s like having an orchestra at your beck and call,” he says while listening to new music written by a current student in the class.
ELECTIVES AP European History, AP Human Geography, The Modern World, Twentieth Century America, US Intelligence and the Cold War, Urban Studies Summer Seminar, AP Psychology, Intro to Economics, Intro to Psychology COURSE SPOTLIGHT
US INTELLIGENCE & THE COLD WAR Prior to being a teacher, Ms. Kathy Quinter worked in the CIA and has studied intelligence issues for years. Now, her students at the Prep benefit from her knowledge and experience in this senior history elective. “This class is an opportunity to study one period of history, the Cold War, through the eyes of intelligence,” says Quinter. “The students learn that there is more to the world of intelligence than just James Bond or Jason Bourne. They learn about the spycraft and technology, the intelligence officers and spies/agents, and the intelligence operations that have impacted modern history.” Students utilize text readings including declassified intelligence documents, documentaries, hands-on exercises (dead drop/surveillance, recruitment, etc.), speakers, and movies. Though students with an interest in careers in national security or the military are especially encouraged to take this class, any senior who has completed his history core (World History, US History and US Government) can enroll. “The course hopes to broaden our students’ horizons by illustrating for them how intelligence worked and operated during the Cold War, and in turn, how it continues to impact the world around us today,” says Quinter.
CHAIR: DR. THOMAS FARREN ’94, ED.D.
CHAIR: JOHN GROCH, M.A. PETER CALLAGHAN, M.A. MICHAEL GAMBONE, M.A. JOHN GROCH, M.A. PAUL KANIA, S.T.M.
INES AßMANN, DIPL.-ING. (FH) LIGIA C. BALAND, M.S.ED. JOANN CHEN, B.A. GINA E. GULLI, M.A.
FRANCIS J. RAFFA, M.ED. DEIRDRE G. SCHLEGEL, M.ED. ANNE SMITH, M.A.
JAMES MCGLYNN, M.A. STEPHEN OLDHAM, M.A. DINO PINTO, M.A. SHERRI SAN CHIRICO, M.DIV.
French I-IV, German I-IV, Mandarin Chinese I-IV, Spanish I-IV
Religious Experience and the Torah, The New Testament and Sacraments of Initiation, Church History, Christian Ethics, Systemic Theology
AP Spanish Language
While driving to his home in Abington from the Prep, a sign caught the attention of Dr. Tom Farren ’94. There, outside of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel synagogue, was a banner that read “¡Hola!” “The phrasing on the sign struck me as intriguing,” says Dr. Farren, a Spanish teacher and Chair of the Modern Language Department. “I noticed it was an advertisement for a lecture series on the Sephardim, Spanish Jews exiled from Spain. I knew some of the history but had never truly thought of it from the viewpoint of the Jewish experience, or how that would be explained by a Rabbi.” Though he wasn’t able to make the lecture at the synagogue, he was intrigued enough to place a call. He got in touch with Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, Ph.D., and the two agreed to meet. That meeting led to Rabbi Sussman twice coming to the Prep to speak to Dr. Farren’s students. In the Spring of 2016 and again in February 2017, Rabbi Sussman delivered his talk to a packed theater: “The Sephardic Experience: Iberia and the Golden Age” which discussed Sephardic Jews and their contribution to, and eventual expulsion from, Spain leading up to 1492. After both talks, Rabbi Sussman answered some questions and took a brief tour of the school. “I am thankful to the Rabbi and his staff for taking the time to work with our students on a vital piece of Spanish history,” says Dr. Farren. “I am looking forward to inviting the Rabbi back to the Prep to talk more about the Jewish diaspora and the Sephardic experiences after 1492, as well as the Jewish experiences in Latin America.”
Bioethics, Native American Spirituality, Social Ethics of War and Peace, The Ignatian Way
NATIVE AMERICAN SPIRITUALITY
For Religious Studies teacher Dino Pinto, the Native American Spirituality course is really personal. The course, available as one of the senior religion electives, is based on his experiences working at the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. It was there, working at a Jesuit high school, where Pinto had his faith deepened. “While I was there, I grew as a person of faith,” he says. “My Catholic faith deepened and strengthened from living and working with the native people. This course came from prayer. I wanted to bring those life-changing experiences into the classroom for my students.” Students in this course discuss the notion of God: how do Christians understand God? How about the natives, especially the Lakota (or Sioux) with whom Pinto worked. In addition to readings, the course includes a variety of materials, including Skype presentations from those on the reservation, field trips and more. “We tell the story of the native experience (their struggles, their culture, their beauty), and look at our faith,” Pinto says. “The course is really a dialogue between these two cultures, these two value systems.”
CHAIR: TERESA HOFFMAN, M.B.A. SAMUEL HINH, B.A. COLLEEN MCMANUS, M.A. SONIA NELSON, M.L.S.
CHAIR: BARBARA BROWN, M.S. KRISTIN ASHCOM, M.S. DR. JOHN CAMPBELL, D.C. JOSEPH FEIGHAN, M.S. DR. BARBARA GIULIANO, ED.D.
ELECTIVES AP Computer Science, AP Computer Science Principles, Intro to Programming, Media Literacy
MATHEMATICS CHAIR: PAUL MORRISSEY, J.D. GREGORY CAMMA, M.ED. LISANN CASTAGNO, M.ED. JAMES DOYLE, M.S. ANDREW FABRY, M.S.
JOSEPH FALCONE, M.S. ’91 DANIEL KILPATRICK, M.S.ED. ’94 MARK KRAVETZ, M.A. MATTHEW MILLER, M.S.
JOSEPH HENDRZAK, M.S. RONAN KELLY, M.A. BRIAN MARTIN, M.S. ’95. SCOTT MURPHY, M.ED. DR. GEOFFREY NUNES, PH.D.
CORE COURSES Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry
ELECTIVES AP Biology, AP Chemistry, Physics, AP Physics, Engineering, Environmental Science, Human Anatomy and Physiology
CORE COURSES Algebra I, Honors Algebra I, Geometry, Honors Geometry, Algebra II w Trigonometry, Honors PreCalculus
ELECTIVES Algebraic and Financial Applications, Calculus, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Statistics, Discrete Mathematics, Finite Mathematics, Introduction to Statistics
STEM STORIES For more than a century and a half, the Prep has earned its stellar reputation as a second-to-none classical, liberal arts high school in Philadelphia. Alumni have prominently excelled in law, politics, education, etc., but what may be less well-known is the large number of St. Joseph Prep students and graduates flourishing in STEM fields (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math). And why not? With a Jesuit education rooted in real-world experience and critical thinking, Prep graduates enter the college environment not only sophisticated and aware, but also ready to solve problems and approach challenges in any arena--including all of today’s STEM fields.
READ MORE ABOUT STEM STUDENTS, FACULTY AND PROGRAMS AT THE PREP.
State-of-the-art labs, leading-edge instruction, new course offerings--they’re all benefits afforded to students who focus on STEM at the Prep--not to mention the chance to work collaboratively with engaged, industry-savvy faculty.
STEM SCIENCE Science classes at the Prep are probably not what many alumni remember. Gone are the antiquated third-floor labs, built in the 1960s based on science education philosophy from the 1930s. Thanks to generous donations from friends such as Jim Maguire, the Maguire Foundation and others, in their place are state-of-theart learning centers dedicated completely to the discipline they teach. In addition to the Biology, Chemistry and Physics labs that generations of Prep students remember, students today have access to a Greenhouse, an Advanced Lab, a Physical Science Lab and an Environmental Science lab/classroom space. Department Chair Barbara Brown, who designed the new labs along with colleague Joe Feighan, is rightly proud of the science spaces. “Today’s students are visual learners, fluent in technology who can manipulate digital data easily,” she says. “The design of our labs takes that into consideration.
Chemistry teacher Ronan Kelly working with students in the lab.
Also, all labs are connected to flat screens/computers for live looks at experiments so that teaching happens all the time.” On this day, however, the Chemistry experiment being worked on was as low tech as it gets. Students were filling plastic bags with water to measure their volume and determine their capacity. The lab included mostly math and measurements, a perfect example of the integration of science and math.
Seniors working on an experiment in the new Environmental Science lab.
“Technology is a tool but not the be-all/end-all,” says science teacher Joe Hendrzak. “Of course many of our experiments are high-tech and our labs are well equipped for that when needed, but our students need to learn all of the different methods of experimentation. Sometimes we rely on the old tried and true methods.” For Hendrzak, these are opportunities to see the many facets of science. “For nearly all of our students, this is their first exposure to deeper science,” he says. “We want them to see all that science can be, all that is possible. We want them to know that science has so many different uses. We want to motivate them to choose these fields.” Hendrzak teaches chemistry and environmental science. He structures his labs to mimic the work done professionally. “They need to learn those critical skills
to move forward,” he says. “In our labs, we measure, we process and then we report, bringing in analysis. That is exactly what I did for years in pharmaceutical labs.” In Environmental Science, he has students adopt a stream in their area. Over the course of the year, they go there to get measurements. Often this has led to students finding a new appreciation for nature in their own backyards. “Science is everywhere around them,” an animated Hendrzak adds. “I encourage them to get out and see it for themselves.”
Kevin Sampson ’16 Viterbi Fellow and Presidential Scholar, University of Southern California ASTRONAUTICAL ENGINEERING It is not easy for undergraduates to land a job at the well-regarded CHAFF lab (Collaborative High Altitude Flow Facility) at the University of Southern California. Only seven students receive the coveted position each year and only one freshman. Just a few months into his college career, Kevin Sampson is one of those students. That prestigious honor, in addition to him being named an Undergraduate Fellow in USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering, has allowed Sampson to make quite a splash at his new school and he’ll tell you that many of the skills he learned at the Prep prepared him for his exciting, new work.
Freshmen create “atoms” in new Physical Science lab.
That is the key, he says. “Science should never be boring. I want them to be excited by what they are doing.”
“I learned new ways of looking at a problem, especially in my AP Physics class,” says Sampson. “Often, it helped me look at things as an engineer would. My math classes, my engineering classes and my computer sciences classes did that for me, too.” That can be especially important as he tries to learn the ropes in this high-level lab environment. The CHAFFs lab, which works in conjunction with Edwards Air Force Base, currently focuses on
small thrusters for tiny satellites or “CubeSats” (10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm). For someone new, the amount of material to learn can be daunting. “I’ve had to ask them to explain it to me a few times so I can understand,” he says with a laugh. “But at the Prep, I learned what to do when given a problem to solve; I gained a mindset of thinking through a problem. Now, when I get a problem, I know the first thing to do, and that was a practice that we went over repeatedly at the Prep.” Sampson points to senior level labs as great training ground for college. “Taking AP Physics C and the Intro to Engineering classes, there were a lot of labs and not all of them ended smoothly,” he notes. “I remember one project, a mousetrap car, that we had worked on repeatedly and it worked well on the smooth, hard surface we were using in practice. Then, in competition, there was a rougher surface and nothing happened, much to our (and Mr. Murphy’s) disappointment. However, that experience taught me that you need to consider things that you ordinarily might not, which is good for an engineer.” He also remembers a Prep Physics lab to make radios. Sadly, only one group was able to successfully complete the task but that gave Sampson another realization. “That showed me how difficult putting things into action can be,” he remembers. “It gave me a good understanding of how things work and how difficult it is to make things work. That was one of the greatest things the Prep did for me. It gave me not only the experience of learning the information, but also of what I could expect in the real world."
STEM TECHNOLOGY The conference room was packed, a sea of college students and a din of chatter. It would be easy for four high school students to feel lost among the group of college students plus representatives from top tech companies like Apple and IBM as well as professors from Penn and other Ivy League institutions. But these four Prep students truly belonged, selected among just a handful of high school students to participate in a Hackathon at the University of Pennsylvania. “Hackathons help companies bridge the gap between what schools teach and what employers need,” said Teresa Hoffman, the Prep’s Computer Science Teacher who accompanied the students. “For our students, most of whom are novices, to be selected was a real honor and a chance for them to learn more about the field.” It is cliche to say that technology is important. In fact, it is more than that. Technology figures into nearly everything we do and touch. It isn’t simply nice to know...it is vital for students to learn technology, to give themselves access to this world that impacts their lives so deeply. At the Prep, Hoffman teaches several levels of Computer Science, from Intro to Programming to AP Computer Science. And while theory and technique is important, Hoffman makes sure that the students are learning practical information, too.
Students from the Robotics team test out their competition robots.
Enrique Feliciano ’17 is a student who greatly benefitted from the Prep’s technology offerings. When he entered SJP, Computer Science was a possible career choice in the back of his mind but he was more focused on medicine or engineering. It was Intro to Programming as a junior that influenced him to pursue Comp Sci in college. “The first time I was able to complete a project on my own, from my own work, my own knowledge, was so fulfilling,” says Feliciano, who recently received a full scholarship to Drexel to study Computer Science. “Mrs. Hoffman made it so interesting. She showed us the code of some of the games that we played and how it wasn’t very different from what we had already learned. That gave me confidence.”
Last year, Hoffman accompanied four Prep juniors to Penn each week to work with the chair of the computer science program to help underrepresented students learn more about the field in the hopes that they will major in computer science in college. One student worked to change his schedule to try and accommodate Calculus BC which is needed for most highlevel Comp Sci programs. “It is really important for our students to know what is possible, and understand the relevancy and impact programming will have in any field they choose,” says Hoffman. She also co-coaches the Robotics team with Science Teacher
Kristin Collins. The group made the playoffs in their first season and this year expanded to host a high school tournament of their own.
“The first time I was able to complete a project on my own, from my own work, my
Reid (right) with Rich Gannon '83, two of the three Prep football players who have had their numbers retired.
own knowledge, was so fulfilling.” —Enrique Feliciano ’17
Feliciano sees the obvious connections between the other STEM fields and Computer Science. “Math is very much involved in Comp Sci, especially with binary codes, etc.,” he says. He also mentioned the intersection of engineering in things like robots and science in experimenting and problem solving. In fact, he wants to be a computer engineer, a mix of knowledge and hands on work.
Constructing the robot for competition in the specially designed Robotics room, complete with a competition ring.
John Reid ’15 Penn State University COMPUTATIONAL DATA SCIENCE When people think of Reid, they most likely know of his athletic talent. His play on the football field helped Reid land a spot as one of just three names on a banner of retired numbers hanging on the wall of Kelly Fieldhouse. But for many teachers at the school, his intellect, hard work and love of computers stand equal to his excellence on the field. “Whether it was researching the latest tech gadgets, tweaking his own selfbuilt computer or practicing writing code, it was clear John was bound for Computer Science in college,” says Mrs. Hoffman. “He has an undeniable passion for all things technology, which was contagious among his peers." “I remember taking computer science classes at the Prep, first with Mr. (Kevin) Dietzler and then with Mrs. (Teresa) Hoffman. They were my favorite classes,” Reid remembers. Reid is a Computational Data Science major at Penn State University as well as a defensive back on their Big 10 Championship football team. Though not exactly an academic road favored by many high-level college athletes, for Reid it combines his love of computer science with statistics and he hopes it will lead to work with machines, networks and software.
“Actually, comp sci reminds me a lot of football,” he notes. “With both, if you put the time in and work hard, you can be good at it. And both are complex so that you can keep learning no matter how much you know.” Hard work is something on which he thrives. When he went to visit Penn State as a senior, the Lions’ coaches were amazed that he chose to spend time with them watching film rather than joining other recruits at social events. “Football is not necessarily a game where you are instantly good, you have to work at it,” Reid says. “Computers and software are the same way.” Two years into college, Reid is grateful for the classes that he took at the Prep. “Being exposed to comp sci as a junior in high school definitely helped me a lot,” he says. “The learning curve at Penn State wasn’t nearly as steep as it could have been.” Some inkling of his future career path may have been there as a high school sophomore when he built his own computer. Even then, it was his competitiveness that helped him accomplish that task. “I was really into video games and the better the computer, the better you can do at the games,” he says with a laugh. “My dad and my uncle have always worked to keep up on the latest technology so they helped me out and I guess they passed it down to me. There are a lot of tutorials out there. You can pretty much google anything.”
STEM ENGINEERING On the roof of the school, several Prep students, under the direction of teacher Scott Murphy, stood measuring. They wanted to know how many solar panels could possibly fit in the space and then work with Solar States to help estimate the costs/ savings, etc., of such a project. Later, in partnership with PECO, they would walk through the whole school, trying to gauge the Prep’s electricity usage and recommend ways to upgrade the electrical infrastructure for better efficiency. The students, who called themselves “Crimson and Green,” presented their findings to Prep President Rev. John W. Swope ’72 SJ, and the Board of Trustees, prompting changes. These upgrades are the results of the Intro to Engineering course. The course touches on all areas of engineering, often surprising students by its breadth. “Engineering solves problems that affect all people, companies and schools,” says Murphy. The course touches on all types of engineering: mechanical, civil, electrical, chemistry, bio-medical and environmental, among others. It also works with real companies to give students insight into how the collaboration might work. According to Murphy, often this introduction plays a vital role for students who don’t always understand what engineering is. “I sometimes hear students say that they want to study engineering in college, but what
does that mean,” he asks. “This course is designed to give them exposure to all of the different fields to see what might catch their interest. I think it also gives them a leg up in college, compared to students who have not taken an Engineering class. It helps our guys get a better understanding of the field." In the Class of 2016, 33 students declared a choice to major in engineering, a number that the Prep college counselors see rising. Seeing numbers like this makes it vital that students have the chance to explore the field while still deciding.
The overview provided in the Intro course, plus some alumni advice, helped Dean Domingo ’17 find some clarity for his career path. When he entered high school, Domingo saw himself on a pre-med path but learned that his interest in math and science might be better suited to engineering. On Career Day, he attended a session led by Tim Reilly ’05, a civil engineer. “Listening to him talk helped me see that engineering could be something that I would want to do,” says Domingo. “It was an option before but it really became more concrete for me after that.”
Engineering students work on creating radios (above & below)
For Domingo, who plans to study at North Carolina State, it was in the first lab, building a mousetrap car, that sealed the deal. “I remember that it was a lot of fun for me; it was serious work but a joy to do,” he revealed. He and his partner Jack Yocom ’17 made adjustments to their car (for example, adding rubber bands onto the plastic wheels for better traction on the hard surface) that helped make the experiment a success. They joined other classmates at a competition at Widener University where “it was really cool to see how the different cars could work and that little minor changes could make a big difference.” For Murphy, that’s the whole idea. “Engineers are tasked with looking at a problem and solving it. Sometimes the changes are minor but can really improve things."
"This course is designed to give them exposure to all of the different fields to see what might catch their interest. I think it also gives them a leg up in college." —Scott Murphy
Liam Nester ’16 University of Alabama MECHANICAL ENGINEERING When you hear that a student is attending the University of Alabama on a full scholarship, you probably think that he plays football or runs track. You may even assume that he plays a musical instrument. For Nester, that full scholarship is for Robotics and Engineering. “When I realized that I was going to be able to attend my dream school for no cost to do the thing that I loved anyway, I was floored,” says Nester. Though he knew from a young age that he had hoped to become an engineer, it was at the Prep that those ideas took shape. As a junior, he joined the Robotics team, loving it so much that he left the lacrosse team to become the Robotics captain his senior year. “I really liked lacrosse but when I was at Robotics, I felt like this was something that I loved and would be more useful for my future,” he says. “I wanted to really devote time to it.” That year, Nester began to take what he was learning in math and science classes and put it into action. “I really started paying attention in Calculus and Physics classes to see what I could incorporate into the robot,” he says. “The more I learned, the better the robot became.”
He also continues to support Prep Robotics as an alum. He has shared some of the techniques learned with Alabama’s National Champion Astrobotics team to help the Prep guys do better. “At the Prep, we all went off and tried to solve the same problem,” he notes. "Here, we have subteams (mechanical, electrical, software, etc.) and get the work done faster because we all have our own specialties. It helps give us a much better robot.” “I don’t think there is a wrong way to think about robotics,” he continues. “There are many ways to approach a problem. If you have 10 people working on something, there are 10 different ideas to solve it. Doing any form of robotics prior to college if you want to be an engineer is super beneficial. It teaches you how to solve problems.” Nester also points to the Prep’s Intro to Engineering Class, as a great way to prepare for college. “I was so glad to be able to take that class my senior year,” says Nester. “It was everything I imagined it would be -- a really good opportunity to learn about a wide variety of engineering. When I got to college, a good amount of material I had already studied in high school. My friends were freaking out but I said, I got this. With all of the work I did in high school, plus activities like Robotics and the Chromebook help desk and computer science club as well as learning how to study, I feel like I could have gone my first semester in college without opening a book and still have gotten a good GPA. There is a huge, huge, huge difference and I see it every day. I was totally prepared for college engineering.”
STEM MATH A usual morning journey for a Prep student begins in his neighborhood and heads through the school doors at 17th and Girard. However, for a select group of high achieving students, that route takes a detour to the classrooms of Temple University. There, three times a week, these students start their day taking Calculus 3 or another high-level math course, after having maxed out all of the Prep’s math offerings.
seniors choosing this option, usually in addition to an AP Calc class. Sometimes though, students saw this as an opportunity to gain real-life math applications.
“This opportunity allows our students to have a real college experience but still be high school students,” says Math Chair Paul Morrissey who has worked to expand this math offering and others for students.
want math that makes sense for their future studies and careers.”
When recent changes to the language requirement gave students more flexibility in their schedules, the Math Department used that opening to create two one-semester classes, dividing the traditional Matrices/Probability/ Statistics class. That change, which increased the number of “available seats” for math, saw a uptick of three times as many
“The goal is to increase opportunities and also increase satisfaction,” explains Morrissey. “Of course, we want to satisfy those students who want to study engineering, science or math in college, but we also want to provide classes for students not pursuing those majors who still
Aidan O’Connor ’17 took Calculus 3 at Temple last fall and enjoyed the challenge of taking a college course. “It was a really neat experience working alongside college students, definitely worthwhile,” says O’Connor, who hopes to major in math with pre-med. “The Prep really supported us in the whole process. We met with Mr. Morrissey to decide which class made the most sense. Mr. (Mark) Kravetz was a good resource if we needed help. When I came to the Prep, I didn’t expect
that I would have this kind of opportunity. It has made me more prepared for college.” For someone like O’Connor, finding challenge in the Prep’s math offerings was important. “I never really felt challenged in math before I came to the Prep,” he said. “Freshman year, in Mr. Morrissey’s Honors Geometry class, he pushed us to go beyond the textbook problems. It really set me up well.” The program’s flexibility is not just for those students who are at the highest math levels. A current sophomore currently taking Geometry and Algebra II/Trigonometry chose to delay fulfilling his history requirements in order to be better prepared for the math portion of his SATs/ACTs. “There is no doubt that the standardized tests have shifted to include more Algebra II and even Trig questions than before,” says Morrissey. “What this student is doing is great and definitely forward-thinking. I hope more students see the value in this and do it as well.”
good experience because it showed that you can think you are right but then in practice it doesn’t work. We had to figure out what went wrong and learn from our mistake.”
Mathematics chair Paul Morrissey instructing an Honors Geometry class. (above & below)
“There are as many math tracks at the Prep as there are students.” —Paul Morrissey
That “forward-thinking” is exactly what Morrissey recommends for all Prep students, saying that “there are as many math tracks at the Prep as there are students. You can wind up where you want to be even if you take a different path to get there.” Morrissey points to external influences on the curriculum. “We used to worry more about internal demands (classroom space, teacher availability, etc.) to create our courses,” he says. “Now we rely on what colleges want, what the standardized tests are asking and what jobs are available in the STEM fields. To prepare our students for all of these things, flexibility is vital.”
Matt Caltabiano ’14 University of Pennsylvania MECHANICAL ENGINEERING/ BUSINESS ANALYTICS MAJOR Caltabiano remembers very clearly the moment when he realized that coding and programming were in his future. As a senior in the AP Computer Science course, he was working on a project to create a Monopoly game. “It was the first time I did something useful with a computer and I could see how it works and learn how I could tweak it to make it work better,” says Caltabiano, who had taught himself the coding language of Python and Java that previous summer to be prepared for the class. “Now I’m learning how to use coding to optimize operations in the business sector, wealth management, finance, etc.” Caltabiano is spending part of his time in Penn’s highly touted engineering school and the other part in the prestigious Wharton School of Business. While he now knows eight coding languages, it was that summer preparing for AP Comp Sci at the Prep that started it all. As a senior, Caltabiano was also part of the AP Physics class that served as the pilot group for the Intro to Engineering course. He noted that many of the projects they did in class mirrored some of his college lessons. “Mr. Murphy would come in and give us a blanket statement task that we had to solve during the lab,” says Caltabiano. “I remember in one lab our project caught on fire. That was a
Caltabiano felt prepared for his college STEM major. “Work we did was very similar to what I am doing now,” he says. “Senior year at the Prep, we built bottle rockets and launched them to see which one went the highest. Sophomore year at Penn, we did almost the exact same lab." As far as the Prep’s stance that “College Starts Here,” Caltabiano says it’s true. “When I came to Penn, I assumed everyone would be as ready as I was, but they weren’t. There are six guys from my Prep class here and all of us felt like we knew something the others didn’t. We felt more confident in what we did; it was very apparent how much better prepared we were.” Caltabiano sees the value of the STEM interconnection. “Looking back, I probably took it for granted,” he says. “Now I realize that you can’t think about coding without thinking of it as a math problem. Math drives everything you do in physics, in chemistry, in computer science. Math is a prerequisite for engineering and physics.” He points to AP Calculus BC with Mark Kravetz as his favorite class. “We were taught to think through a problem, to figure out an answer,” he says, “and that has been my experience in my college courses, too. Mr. Kravetz taught us the entire curriculum by the end of the first quarter and then spent the rest of the year teaching us things that he thought would be useful moving forward. I took a linear algebra class at Penn and I knew a little about it because of that class at the Prep. I wasn’t intimidated.”
ST. JOSEPH’S PREP: GOOGLE CERTIFIED St. Joseph’s Prep utilizes a Google platform. Each student and teacher has access to the GoogleEDU suite of tools that allow for better communication and organization. All students are given a school-managed Chromebook so that everyone is on the same device, providing a consistent level of access. In addition, the Prep has an Acer-accredited Helpdesk, managed by students (and supervised by Prep staff), to make minor repairs.
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