Hudson Valley Private Schools
Discover all the unique educational opportunities the Valley has to offer with this comprehensive guide to the region’s private schools
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Structure + support = success
JOHN S. BURKE CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL
Times are tough these days for many families — and many learning institutions are making painful financial decisions, too. “Yet, at our school, we’ve always had a sort of recession mentality,” says John Dolan, assistant principal at John S. Burke Catholic High School,.
“Like everyone else, we’re doing all we can to keep everything going,” he explains. ”We did have to cut back a few teachers this year, which was hard. But things are starting to look up in terms of more applications for admissions. We also do a lot of fund-raising to keep things like sports and extracurricular activities, which mean a lot to the kids.
“Parents know it’s a financial sacrifice to send their kids to a private school,” Dolan acknowledges. “But many decide it’s a viable option. They see that nearly all the kids who walk through these doors go on to college.”
Many college-bound Burke Catholic kids are also likely to receive scholarships, Dolan adds. In the past two years, students were offered more than $10 million in scholarship funds each year. “With the economy the way it is, that’s encouraging to families,” he says.
According to Dolan, families choose a school like Burke Catholic — tuition is currently $7,600 per year — for various reasons. “About 40 percent of our students transfer in from public schools.” And while some parents are primarily seeking a Catholic education for their children, Dolan notes, “we’re by no means an all-Catholic school.” (All students, however, are required to take four years of religion courses as part of the curriculum.)
“Other parents are looking for more structure for their kids,” Dolan explains. “Some students need it, and here they get it. The kids wear uniforms, and they have to abide by the rules — we have detention and demerits. It helps create an environment where kids practice discipline and respect on a daily basis, and where they can really focus on learning.”
The Goshen school follows a state curriculum, including Regents testing. Along with math, science, English, history, languages and other standard courses, Burke Catholic also offers popular sports, drama, music, and art programs (“and Latin, which not many schools have anymore,” says Dolan), as well as specialized courses in topics including sports management and music promotion, public speaking, and computer technology.
The school also has affiliations with several local colleges — such as SUNY Orange, Mount Saint Mary, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Marist — which allows some students to take college-level courses while still in high school.
“And, in addition to studying for their courses, about 70 percent of our students are involved in some kind of extracurricular activity,” says Dolan. “They might be volunteering or in sports, music, drama, or the concert band. And another 25 percent have part-time jobs. The kids here are terrific. They work hard. And they really want to learn.”