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Private Matters

by Peter Proko

Local schools are offering more than just a leg up on college prep: many also feature one-of-a-kind programs or unforgettable perks.

As parents seek out the best for their children, many are apt to consider the benefits of private education. The reasons are many: Do you want to provide your child with a solid religious foundation? Do you feel your daughter would be more empowered in a girls-only school? Is your technologically advanced son better suited for a school that brings computers into the classroom? Will your rising stage star shine brighter at a school renowned for arts and culture?

Thankfully, our area boasts some of the finest private institutions in the country, helping prepare students to excel in many facets of their life. Sure, aggressive curricula help prepare students for college, but it’s the added opportunities and experiences that help set private schools apart. Here are just some of the ways our local schools are giving students personalized attention through innovative activities and specialized programs.

Seniors attending Doane Academy actually look forward to the first day of school, thanks to a tradition in which the students arrive by canoe, to be greeted by the entire school and the sounds of a bagpiper along the riverbank. It’s all part of a senior sojourn program that includes a restoration service project and, this year, a hot air balloon ride. During the excursion, students spend an evening camping and holding class elections by bonfire.

Service trips are popular at several area schools, with students traveling everywhere from New Orleans to Nicaragua to assist in a variety of volunteering opportunities. Many of the schools require students to fulfill a minimum amount of service hours during their four years to be eligible for graduation. Camden Catholic students for one, collectively average more than 24,000 hours of community service through the school’s “Learning to Serve, Serving to Learn” program.

Over at Paul VI, freshmen are the envy of the school thanks to a new curriculum that requires them to use iPads in every class. Teachers, using virtual educational tools, are able to communicate in much more advanced and modern ways that replace five-subject notebooks with five-star learning techniques. There are even special apps and programs devised by the school to further enhance the technological link. Moorestown Friends allows students to explore the tech world further with classes that range from Photoshop to anime.

If ultimate Frisbee if your game, you’ll want to check out Holy Cross, where that is just one of the many clubs students can join (they also have an equestrian club). Over at Moorestown Friends, future chefs grill each other over at the barbecue club. One of the school’s many service clubs allows students to stitch together blankets that will be donated to a nonprofit organization.

At a larger public school, it may be hard for your star athlete to crack the starting lineup, but in private school, the smaller number of kids means that the soccer goalie or baseball catcher will get every opportunity to excel on the field. But it’s not just traditional sports being offered. St. Augustine’s, for one, can offer students unique scholarship opportunities for college through sports like crew, sailing and even fencing.

While improving school lunches is an ongoing issue in many schools, many are partnered with food service providers giving students a chance to nosh on something other than mystery meat when noontime rolls around. General Tso’s wraps? Check. Vegetarian quesadillas? Check. Everything from organic foods to fresh pasta is turning up on cafeteria trays, giving kids healthy options to make sure they are eating properly even when you’re not around.

The King’s Christian School is just one of the local schools showing the youth the importance of being eco-friendly in this day and age. Currently, the school generates nearly 95 percent of its electricity through solar energy. The Sustainable Cherry Hill member also pays special attention to recycling with a dedicated program that both encourages and educates students.

Private school campuses tend to feel more collegiate than their public counterparts, thanks in part to large acreage with sprawling grounds and multiple buildings where kids move about from class to class. The larger feel helps contribute a sense of community, but the small class sizes keep things from feeling overwhelming. Thanks to rigorous admissions policies, private schools are able to keep class size down, allowing for more personal, intimate learning.

It may sound like a drag, but students tend not to mind the extra schooling that comes along with a third semester. That’s because private schools like to give their students added value by taking them out of nontraditional learning environments and giving them opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have. Those who want to study architecture can do so in Italy. Think you have a future in a Michelin-starred restaurant? Prove it by stepping up to the stove at a local eatery.

No matter if your child loves Phantom of the Opera or is glued to the TV every time Glee is on, private schools are known for putting a focus on arts and culture as a means to make students well rounded. Baptist Regional’s a capella group, Vocal Forte, competes annually in New York City against the best singing schools from across the country, and recently placed second out of 10. In addition to acting, students learning valuable tools when it comes to things like technical production, stage management and more.

SAT Scores (average math, critical reading, essay)

Moorestown Friends
Math: 641
Critical Reading: 628
Essay: 644
Total: 1913

Baptist Regional
Math: 598
Critical Reading: 603
Essay: 595
Total: 1796

St. Augustine’s
Math: 593
Critical Reading: 562
Essay: 562
Total: 1717

Doane Academy
Math: 520
Critical Reading: 555
Essay: 535
Total: 1610

Holy Cross
Math: 503
Critical Reading: 509
Essay: 513
Total: 1525

The King’s Christian School
Math: 523
Critical Reading: 498
Essay: 498
Total: 1519

Paul VI
Math: 503
Critical Reading: 510
Essay: 505
Total: 1518

Gloucester Catholic
Math: 501
Critical Reading: 501
Essay: 506
Total: 1508

Camden Catholic
Math: 500
Critical Reading: 502
Essay: 505
Total: 1507

Bishop Eustace
Math: N/A
Critical Reading: N/A
Essay: N/A
Total: N/A

Percentage of Students Taking the SAT

Bishop Eustace – 100%
Doane Academy – 100%
The King’s Christian School – 100%

Paul VI – 100% St. Augustine’s – 100%
Moorestown Friends – 99%
Holy Cross – 97%
Baptist Regional – 94%
Gloucester Catholic – 83%
Camden Catholic – 79%

Total College Scholarships Awarded to Class of 2010

Bishop Eustace – $31 million
Paul VI – $23.6 million
St. Augustine’s – $23 million
Holy Cross – $17 million
Camden Catholic – $10 million
Gloucester Catholic – $10.3 million
Doane Academy – $3.3 million
Baptist Regional – not calculated
The King’s Christian – not calculated
Moorestown Friends – not calculated

Number of Honors Classes Offered

Holy Cross – 33
Moorestown Friends – 31
St. Augustine’s – 28
Camden Catholic – 25
Doane Academy – 22
The King’s Christian School – 18
Bishop Eustace – 17
Paul VI – 17
Baptist Regional – 14
Gloucester Catholic -- 12

Number of AP Classes Offered

Paul VI – 17
St. Augustine’s – 17
Moorestown Friends – 16
Bishop Eustace – 16
Camden Catholic – 14
The King’s Christian School – 13
Doane Academy – 12
Holy Cross – 9
Gloucester Catholic – 8
Baptist Regional – 5

Percentage of Graduates Attending Four-Year Colleges

Doane Academy – 100%
The King’s Christian School – 100%
Moorestown Friends – 100%
St. Augustine’s – 98%
Bishop Eustace – 97%
Camden Catholic – 97%
Holy Cross – 83%
Paul VI – 71%
Baptist Regional – 65%
Gloucester Catholic – 64%

Average Teacher Length of Service

Doane Academy – 8 years
Moorestown Friends – 9 years
Baptist Regional – 12 years
Paul VI – 14 years
Bishop Eustace – 15 years
The King’s Christian School – 15 years
Camden Catholic – 17 years
Gloucester Catholic – 17 years
Holy Cross – 23 years
St. Augustine’s – N/A

Student to Teacher Ratio

Baptist Regional – 8:1
Doane Academy – 8:1
Moorestown Friends – 9:1
The King’s Christian School –10:1
Camden Catholic – 12:1
St. Augustine’s – 12:1
Bishop Eustace – 13:1
Paul VI – 15:1
Holy Cross – 16:1
Gloucester Catholic – 19:1

Percentage of Students Receiving Financial Aid

The King’s Christian School – 36%
Bishop Eustace – 35%
Paul VI – 34%
Camden Catholic – 33%
Gloucester Catholic – 33%
Doane Academy – 30%
Moorestown Friends – 30%
St. Augustine’s – 30%
Holy Cross – 29%
Baptist Regional – 25%

Tuition for 2011-2012

Moorestown Friends – $23,450
Doane Academy – $16,100
Bishop Eustace – $14,900
St. Augustine’s – $13,650
Holy Cross – $8,850
The King’s Christian School – $7,880
Baptist Regional – $7,600
Camden Catholic – $7,550
Paul VI – $7,450
Gloucester Catholic -- $7,200

Dual-Credit Class Partnerships with Colleges

Baptist Regional – Burlington County College
Bishop Eustace – Camden County College
Camden Catholic – N/A
Doane Academy – Burlington County College
Gloucester Catholic – Gloucester County College
Holy Cross – Burlington County College, Seton Hall University
The King’s Christian School – N/A
Moorestown Friends – N/A
Paul VI – Camden County College
St. Augustine’s – Camden County College, Cumberland County College, Seton Hall University

Graduation Rate

Baptist Regional – 100%
Bishop Eustace – 100%
Camden Catholic – 100%
Doane Academy – 100%
Gloucester Catholic – 100%
Holy Cross – 100%
The King’s Christian School – 100%
Moorestown Friends – 100%
Paul VI – 100%
St. Augustine’s – 100%

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 7 (October, 2011).
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