Student Learning at Bishop Connolly Enriched by $1.4 Million in Campus Upgrades
Lab upgrades that immerse students in college-level biotech and environmental science research. A tech-savvy Academic Achievement Center featuring laptop bays, desktop computer stations and interactive panel technology to expand digital learning resources for students. Extra-wide lockers that hold backpacks, duffel bags and sports gear. A redesigned campus center featuring a cafe, lounge seating and booths perfect for connecting with friends.
When students arrived at Bishop Connolly for the start of classes this fall, they discovered bright, bold changes designed to energize both learning and campus life at the Fall River college preparatory Catholic high school. Thanks to $1.4 million in support from alumni, parents, friends and community business leaders, BCHS has made extensive improvements to its building and grounds, enhanced academic programming, and increased tuition aid resources to enable greater numbers of students to receive a Connolly education.
“Bishop Connolly’s students are at the heart of these wonderful accomplishments,” said Christopher Myron, Bishop Connolly principal and president. “Our entire community has embraced the challenge to ‘reach higher’ and ensure that a Connolly education of the highest caliber is extended to each and every student who walks through our doors.”
In September, Bishop Connolly reached its $1.4 million Advancement Initiative goal earmarked for campus upgrades and additional tuition aid to help more students and families seeking a Connolly education. Additional projects completed this spring and summer include: new roadways, curbing and sidewalks; new theatre lighting, carpeting and apron stage; redesign of the Sports & Theatre entrance for improved accessibility; and renovation of Connolly’s newly named Paul Hamel ’71 Academic Achievement Center as a multipurpose learning/event space for school and community groups.
To better meet students’ diverse interests and college goals, Bishop Connolly expanded its academic, athletic and arts programming this year, adding A.P. Physics, swimming, band and a Stagecraft for Theatrical Productions course. Connolly also has been awarded a $10,000 grant from The Carney Family Charitable Foundation to implement an Environmental Studies program this fall that will advance college-preparatory STEM education through hands-on learning outdoors on the Connolly campus. BCHS is one of only two schools in the Fall River Diocese selected to receive funding through the inaugural round of the Foundation’s School Solutions Seed Fund.
“Our new Environmental Studies program will allow students to enhance their creativity and expand their problem-solving skills in math and science in a living laboratory setting,” said Myron.
Connolly has developed the new STEM curriculum through an educational partnership with Bridgewater State University’s Center for the Advancement of STEM Education (CASE), which provides STEM equipment and outreach to participating schools. CASE’s Watershed Access Lab will provide Connolly faculty and students with access to a free lending lab featuring over $50,000 worth of state-of-the-art watershed assessment and water quality testing equipment typically used at the college level or in environmental science fields. Connolly’s 72-acre rural campus includes streams, woods and wetlands ideal for environmental testing and analysis. Grant funding also will be used to build a greenhouse-style laboratory on school grounds to facilitate on-site instruction and extended lab studies in Connolly’s biology, chemistry and environmental science courses.
Another BCHS science course—Biotechnology & Microbiology—has grown from an educational partnership with Amgen, one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies. The Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE) provides Bishop Connolly with no-cost, research-grade lab equipment and teaching materials that students traditionally will not encounter until college. Expanding upon the ABE’s core curriculum, Connolly’s yearlong Biotechnology & Microbiology course explores the field of microbiology in depth, emphasizing scientific techniques that build students’ competency in a laboratory setting. Connolly’s advanced curriculum has been designed to put BCHS students well ahead of the curve in developing real-world skills that are in growing demand in today’s environmental science, biotechnology, medicine and health care industries.
For more than 50 years, Bishop Connolly has embraced its mission to prepare students to pursue their college and career goals with skill and confidence. Connolly has a 100 percent college acceptance rate, with recent graduates accepted to highly competitive colleges and universities including Brown, Dartmouth, Notre Dame, Fordham, Johns Hopkins and Rensselaer.
For Clement Ojo ’16, Bishop Connolly’s academic rigor helped him develop the tenacity that the study of medicine will demand. Starting at Connolly as an eighth grade L.E.A.P. (Learning Environment Accelerates Potential) student, Ojo is now an accomplished undergrad at Johns Hopkins University, where he is obtaining a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Currently on the Dean’s List, Ojo has been invited to join the National Society of Collegiate Scholars at JHU, an honor extended to less than 10 percent of its students annually.
“Being able to adapt to different situations—whether that be personal or academic—quickly and to think critically are some of the skills I picked up at Connolly,” said Ojo. “In retrospect, Connolly provided the groundwork to prepare me to meet the challenges of college.”