New year, new friends for high-schoolers


PAWTUCKET—The thrill of riding a zipline in the mountains of New Hampshire over the summer was an experience Heather Theriault couldn’t wait to share with her new classmates at Bishop Francis P. Keough Regional High School.

Theriault, a sophomore from Freetown, Mass., transferred to Bishop Keough this year because she really liked the close-knit family feeling the small, all-girls school is known for.

“It was absolutely amazing,” she delighted in telling her new friends on the first day of school last week, of the summer adventures that helped her overcome a fear of heights. “It was the best experience to have with my family.”

Sophomore Megan Audette really enjoys learning in a Catholic environment.

“I’ve been in public schools all my life, and I really like it here. It’s like we’re family,” she said.

In a hard-hit economy, offering their son or daughter a Catholic education can be considered a luxury that a parent may have to be very committed to in order to meet the expenses.

Trying to keep their tuition within reach for families is something Bishop Keough Principal Jeanne Leclerc has been committed to through the years. She commended the efforts of scholarship funds, like the Anchor of Hope Fund, with making it possible for students to attend who otherwise would not be able to.

“We’re going through some difficult times,” she says, as the students change classrooms following the first bell of the new school year.

The principal says she’s pleased that 95 percent of the school’s graduates will go on to college—compared to 97 percent overall for the diocese’s Catholic secondary schools.

Shelli Schofield, a 1990 graduate of Bishop Keough, has come back to her alma mater to teach math.

“I had a great experience here in high school, and I’m having a great experience as a teacher now,” she said.

Bishop Keough continues to foster that familial spirit through activities aimed at creating a nurturing environment for the students both on and off campus, such as nights where they will come together to watch movies, or perhaps enjoy a hayride.

The school’s theater program is also gearing up for an exciting season, as is the Model Legislature program, and Mock Trial, which is being introduced this year. The school’s Photography Club is also popular with students.

The principal is pleased that despite the economy, the school’s enrollment has not gone down this year, something other schools have reported as well.

At LaSalle Academy, Brother Michael McKenery, school president, echoed Principal Leclerc’s sentiments about the opportunities financial aid funding provides for many families seeking to give their child a Catholic education.

“We don’t have a big endowment,” Brother Michael said. “But our enrollment has held firm.”

This year, LaSalle has added an engineering track to its curriculum, and through the generosity of a single donor, is making a $125,000 upgrade to its science and technology offerings.

At The Prout School, Principal Gary Delneo said his school’s enrollment has also held firm this year.

He also welcomes aboard Michael Sweeney, former principal of St. Raphael Academy, as The Prout School’s new assistant principal. Sweeney replaces Louise Pearson, whom Principal Delneo says “served Prout in an extraordinary way for 34 years.”

Also, Jim Pierce has been named the new dean of students, replacing Patricia Murphy, who becomes the new principal at Msgr. Clarke School.