Loyola Academy, the on-campus middle school at Brophy College Prepatory that aims to help underprivileged boys succeed, recently saw its first class walk across the stage to receive their high school diplomas. Loyola opened in 2011.
The academy serves boys in sixth through eighth grades and prepares them to transition into Brophy College Preparatory. Students are identified in fifth grade, and the academy is meant for those who come from under-developed schools or low-income families.
“It’s a tuition free program that not only encompasses the typical cost of the education, but it was really important for us to build in elements beyond just the typical junior high experience that kids have access to,” Brophy principal Bob Ryan says. “It’s an expensive venture, but it’s a commitment that we feel happy about.”
Director of Loyola Academy Kendra Krause says the program has really gone better than anyone expected. Enrolling in the academy is both a commitment from the student and the parents. It’s a 10 hours a day, 11 months a year for a three-year venture the whole family takes part in.
“The first thing we do is take the boys on a retreat, which makes parents kind of nervous,” Krause says. “We ask them to have faith in us to do things like that with them. It’s a big commitment from the kids and their families.”
The first group of boys who entered the academy in 2011 recently attended their signing ceremony, at which they shared what their first step after Brophy will be. The ceremony was designed so students from the academy could reconnect. Ryan says Krause has been good at trying to establish traditions for the academy.
“Seeing these boys at the end of their Brophy careers, it really has seemed like it’s gone better than expected,” Krause says. “They have plans. They’ve really made a difference on campus and in the community. I think they would all say they’ve had a really good experience. Their families are super involved.”
Loyola began as an effort to expand Brophy’s reach into the community, Ryan says. Brophy understood that there were boys who had potential but didn’t have the tools to get into the preparatory school. Brophy didn’t have a strong retention rate among kids who came from low-income communities, so that’s the group they sought to help.
“I think we were really blessed with this first group because they really did let us try things out on them for the whole time they were with us,” Krause says. “It was an amazing experience to watch them. I felt blessed to see how much they really love each other and what a community they still are even if they went separate ways.”
Krause says they always receive more applications than the 75 spots they have to fill, but she still encourages people to nominate talented fifth graders. For more information on Loyola Academy visit www.brophyprep.org/page/loyola-academy.