Friday, January 31, 2003

Good Catholic school stuff

Excellent, in fact.

The religious order that runs Salesianum School in Wilmington is opening a tuition-free middle school for low-income city students this fall.

The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales said the new school, which will be called Nativity Preparatory School of Wilmington, initially will serve 15 to 20 boys in the fifth and sixth grades and expand to 60 boys in fifth through eighth grades.

The school is based on a model developed more than 30 years ago by the Nativity Mission Center in New York that includes a disciplined school day lasting more than 12 hours. "This is academic boot camp," said the Rev. Thomas B. Curran, president of Salesianum, a private Catholic high school for boys. Curran also will be executive director of Nativity Prep.

Nativity Prep's day will begin at 8 a.m. Classes will last until 3 p.m., when two hours of team sports begin. After a dinner break, students will study again from 7 to 9 p.m. The students also will attend four-to six-week summer programs outside of the city.

The school will target "students with need" who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford private school, Curran said. ....The Nativity model is in use in more than 50 schools nationwide, said the Rev. Jack Podsiadlo, executive director of the Baltimore-based Nativity Educational Centers Network. He said Wilmington's Nativity Prep would be the only such school established by another Catholic high school.

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