Reaching Higher Together - Bishop Connolly's Dual Enrollment Program

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Reaching Higher Together

Bishop Connolly High School Brings Advanced Math and Science Programs to Middle School Students across the Region

Bishop Connolly is widening the reach of its college preparatory curriculum by introducing area middle school students to math and science courses currently taught at BCHS. Through academic partnerships with sister schools across Greater Fall River and neighboring Rhode Island, Bishop Connolly is helping seventh and eighth grade students gain a competitive edge in reaching their college goals.

A new program piloted in September 2017, Bishop Connolly’s Dual Enrollment Algebra I Honors course allows Grade 8 students with a demonstrated aptitude for math to take Connolly’s Algebra I Honors course and receive credit at both the eighth grade and high school levels. By getting an early start on high school math, these students will be able to complete a greater number of advanced level math courses during their high school years, strengthening their resumes for college-level studies, particularly in majors such as engineering, chemistry, architecture, and economics.

“Bishop Connolly’s dual enrollment program mirrors similar academic partnerships that allow high school students to pursue college-level courses,” said Bishop Connolly principal Christopher Myron. “Through the program, middle school students who are qualified will have an opportunity to grow intellectually if they are ready for it, setting them on a path for advanced academic achievement throughout their high school years.”

The program is offered at no cost to Fall River’s five Catholic elementary schools—Espirito Santo, Holy Name, Holy Trinity, Saint Michael and Saint Stanislaus. Middle school students are selected for the program based on their Dual Enrollment Algebra I entrance exam scores and school recommendations. Bishop Connolly math teacher Brian Rebelo teaches the yearlong course using a combination of virtual teaching, classroom visits, and instructional videos he records and posts online for his students.

Since the course’s inception last fall, 57 students have enrolled in the course. Students who pass the program receive high school credit for completing Algebra I and move ahead to Algebra II Honors in their freshman year, enabling them to be on track to complete Connolly’s Advanced Placement Calculus AB and BC courses before graduating.

“The most important benefit that our Dual Enrollment Algebra I Honors program provides to these students is the passion for mathematics,” said Rebelo. “The world needs more mathematicians, and I believe that this program shows them that loving math is a positive thing.”

Similarly, Bishop Connolly’s Biotech Experience strives to inspire a passion for science in middle school students through a hands-on laboratory program that introduces them to college-level scientific study. Adapting a lesson from BCHS’s Biotechnology & Microbiology Honors course curriculum, Bishop Connolly’s Biotech Experience program engages middle grade students in hands-on laboratory procedures that teach them the joy of scientific investigation.

Under the direction of BCHS biotechnology teacher Christina Fontana, participating middle school students carry out a lab assignment in gel electrophoresis, a process used to separate and identify biomolecules such as DNA. Working alongside Fontana, the students learn to use research-grade lab equipment that they typically wouldn’t encounter until college. The program has grown from Connolly’s educational partnership with Amgen, one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies. Amgen provides the lab equipment at no cost to BCHS to inspire today’s students to embrace careers where scientists are in growing demand, including biotechnology, medicine, health care, and biomanufacturing.

“The benefit of the Biotech Experience is to provide students with a hands-on opportunity with scientific tools prior to college,” said Fontana. The goal in providing students with this experience is to give them early exposure to courses in the STEM field, developing their awareness and interest.

Since the launch of its Biotech Experience program last fall, Connolly has welcomed seventh and eighth-grade students from schools across Greater Fall River and Rhode Island’s East Bay region. By year’s end, Bishop Connolly’s Biotech Experience program will have served more than 300 middle school students.

“We see ourselves as a resource for the entire community,” said Myron of Connolly’s commitment to educational outreach. “We want to use the gifts we have here and share them.”

For more information about Bishop Connolly High School, please visit BishopConnolly.com or contact Jo-Ann Bettencourt, Director of Admissions, at 508.676.1071 x333 or jbettencourt@bchs.dfrcs.org.


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