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Assistance offered for St. Bernard students to attend Olean Catholic schools

Thu, Feb 21st 2019 02:00 pm

By KATE DAY SAGER Era Reporter [email protected]

When administrators at St. Bernard School announced in January that the campus will close at the end of the school year, several people with the Bradford Central Christian Charitable Trust board decided to make Christian education available to the displaced students through tuition assistance.

Money from the charitable trust will provide tuition assistance for St. Bernard’s elementary and middle school students to attend Archbishop Walsh Academy and Southern Tier Catholic School (STCS), located at 208 N. 24th St., off of West State Street in Olean.

Marcia McAndrew, a member of the charitable trust board, said the trust was established in 1979 to help support Catholic education in the Bradford area.

“After Bradford Central Christian High School closed (in 2000)” support was provided to students who wanted to continue on with Catholic education, McAndrew explained. “But now that St. Bernard’s is closed, we want to offer help to families who are interested in sending (elementary and middle school) kids to Southern Tier Catholic or Archbishop Walsh.”

Bishop Lawrence Persico of the Erie Diocese and the Rev. Ray Gramata of St. Bernard’s Parish had announced in January that  St. Bernard School, located on West Washington Street, would have to close due to financial issues and a dwindling population.

“We know it’s a hardship for people and we would like to help support them with tuition assistance if they’re interested in Catholic education,” McAndrew continued. “Walsh is going to be providing a free bus (for transportation) for people.”

McAndrew said the board is hopeful of hearing from families interested in sending their elementary and secondary students to the Olean campus by April 1, if possible.

“That will help us determine how much financial aid we’ll be able to give them,” she remarked.

“We certainly want to make the transition easy for anybody who has an interest. This can be for anybody who is interested from the (Bradford) area, it doesn’t just have to be for people who went to St. Bernard’s.”

She said the tuition assistance would be “an ongoing thing” for students from the area interested in attending the Olean campus for several years. She said a young man from the Lewis Run area has attended Walsh for a period of time.

Thomas Manko, principal of Walsh and STCS, said he and other administrators at the school “admire how St. Bernard's families, students, faculty and staff have approached the closing news.”

Manko also noted his appreciation of leadership provided by St. Bernard’s principal, Linda Cecchetti and Gramata.

“This is tremendous … we’re really excited about this,” Manko said of the collaboration between the two communities. Manko said he and Cecchetti, who couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday, plan to select a date in March for the Walsh and STCS leadership team to meet with the St. Bernard families in Bradford. During that session, information will be shared with them about the Olean campus. In addition, a “shadow day” at Walsh and STCS for St. Bernard’s students and families is expected to follow.

“We'll conclude this series of three meetings with a question and answer session for parents and their children at Walsh and STCS,” Manko added. He said a number of information packets on Walsh and STCS are available at St. Bernard School.

As for transportation, Manko said Walsh and STCS will provide busing for Bradford area students.

“We’ll have a round-trip bus pick up and drop off the St. Bernard students” and others who want to attend Walsh and STCS, he commented. “That will not be an extra charge.”

He said the logistics for transportation, such as where students will meet the bus in the Bradford area, is yet to be determined.

On a related topic, Manko said his school offers a “full slate” of athletic and after-school activities and clubs for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students.

“If children wish to participate in (modified sports or after-school activities) their parents are responsible for transportation,” he said. However, if a student is a member of an athletic team, Walsh will provide transportation to and from the Walsh parking lot, he added.

Marta McHale, also a member of the charitable trust board, said the trust has been used to help some Bradford area high school students attend Walsh after Central Christian closed 19 years ago.

“We’re still going to honor that commitment,” McHale said. “So if anyone from St. Bernard’s wants to go (to Walsh or STCS), we will do what we can to help out. That’s what we’re here for.”

She noted two of her own children had attended Walsh after Central Christian closed.

“It worked out really well,” she recalled. “I hope this works out — and we want the parents to know there is some tuition assistance available to them.”

For more information on the program, contact Manko by email at [email protected], by phone at (716) 372-8122, ext. 1, or by cell at (315)345-7587.

Also available for information is Mary Beth Garvin, director of admissions at Walsh, at [email protected] or by phone at (716)372-8122, ext. 3.

http://www.bradfordera.com/news/assistance-offered-for-st-bernard-students-to-attend-olean-catholic/article_9546728c-3582-11e9-b22c-3f1ce3164cd7.html

 

 

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