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Copyright 2019 - Bishop Guilfoyle

Four years ago, Bishop Guilfoyle opened its doors to seventh and eighth graders for the first time. The students formed the inaugural class of BG’s Pre-Advanced Placement (Pre-AP) Preparatory Program. BG began the program in response to the many parents and gifted students who were searching for accelerated programs for middle school students.

BG’s program is the first of its kind in the Altoona area. The Pre-AP program offers classes that move at a quicker than usual pace, cover material in greater depth and meet the needs of students who feel limited by the traditional classroom. BG principal Joan Donnelly discovered that parents seeking this type of experience for their child would often elect to send their students to a private boarding school, as there were no accelerated options available at area schools. And so, in 2015,
the Bishop Guilfoyle Pre-AP Program was born.

A Unique Opportunity

The Pre-AP Program is offered in seventh and eighth grades, accepting students from both public and private schools. However, the benefits of the program do not end when the student leaves eighth grade.

“The essence of this program is that it is not a two-year program that is forgotten by the staff or students after eighth grade,” explained program facilitator, Katrina Brown, who came to Bishop Guilfoyle with six years of experience in private schools and 28 years of experience in public education. “The program grows with the students as upperclassmen in opening up multiple opportunities that correlate to student interests and academic potential.”

In its inaugural year, the program accepted five students: Glenn Bartkowiak, Olivia Butler, Julia Cacciotti, Giana Georgiana and Amelia Morning.

“Before I qualified for the program, I had been in four previous schools simply wandering through the grades,” said Bartkowiak. “This program gave me people to connect to, as it has been the longest I’ve spent in any single school. In addition, it helped me push my education because I had a better connection to the teachers I had during my time here.

The time I spent in the Pre-AP program gave me the extra time needed for me to emotionally connect with others to unlock my full potential,” continued Bartkowiak. “As a result, I’ve been able to excel at Bishop Guilfoyle with the help of the Pre-AP program.”

Long-Lasting Benefits

Today, Bartkowiak and all the other original students are in their junior year at BG and continue to see the benefits of the Pre-AP Program.

“The Pre-AP program really helped prepare me academically because it helped me handle my workload now and pushed me to be one of the top students in the class,” explained Morning. “In my freshman year I was only able to take one AP class, and in sophomore year I took three AP classes. Now that I am a junior, I took it upon myself to take four AP classes along with all of the extracurricular activities I am involved in. Because of the Pre-AP program, I was able to do all the things I love in my life while also pursuing further rigor in my academic career.”

Butler, who also had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain and France through Bishop Guilfoyle and Saint Francis University, echoed Morning’s sentiments. “I thoroughly enjoyed the Pre-AP Program because it helped me in many more ways than just academics. I have the opportunity to participate in many experiences, both in and outside the school. I have been in multiple Advanced Placement college classes, including a class that’s new to the school, AP Capstone. I have traveled and had the opportunity to study abroad over the past two summers. I grew so much as a person and as an individual since I began my educational journey at BG in 2015 as an eighth grader.”

A Growing Program

This year, five seventh graders and 14 eight graders are enrolled in the program dedicated to providing a rigorous learning environment that fosters educational growth on multiple levels.

To learn more about the Pre-AP Preparatory Program, visit www.bishopguilfoyle.org/index.php?page=curriculum