Father Judge High School in Northeast Philadelphia has been awarded a $150,000 grant by the Archdiocesan Educational Fund to launch a welding program during the 2019-2020 academic year.
It is the first feature of the all-boys’ high school’s new Career and Technical Education (CTE) curriculum.
The fund was created in 1967 by Matthew H. McCloskey, Jr. (1893-1973) to advance Catholic education and evangelization throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. While the fund gives many grants each year, this one is especially noteworthy because the founder was a successful building contractor who oversaw the construction of a number of major buildings in Washington, D.C., including the Pentagon. He also was the U.S. ambassador to Ireland (1962-64).
“Not every student wants or should go to college,” said Matthew H. McCloskey IV, president of the Archdiocesan Educational Fund. “Father Judge’s leaders recognize this fact and made a strong and solid case for expanding the school’s curriculum beyond college prep to include career and technical education for students who want to go right into the workplace.
“Father Judge is out in front on this in the archdiocese,” McCloskey added. “Their research shows that a welding program, with high academic standards and certification, will produce skilled tradesmen for placement in a high priority occupation. We’re happy to play a part in Father Judge’s vision, and we’d like to encourage other schools to take this approach.”
Immaculate Heart Sister Maureen McDermott, superintendent of secondary schools for the archdiocese expressed her gratitude to the McCloskey family “for their generosity and commitment to advancing the mission of Catholic education through the Archdiocesan Educational Fund.”
She called the grant “transformational” for the Father Judge community as it provides school leaders “the ability to execute their creative vision to serve students, to learn trade skills taught in career and technical education,” she said. “My hope is our schools continue to foster similar innovative opportunities to prepare students for success.”
“I am humbled by the Archdiocesan Educational Fund’s decision to invest in our school,” said Father Judge President Brian Patrick King, himself a class of ’97 graduate. “This level of financial commitment allows us to create different learning experiences for our students who are exploring offerings in CTE. It is our duty to give students every opportunity and experience to help them utilize their God-given talents.”
The multi-year program, as envisioned by Judge’s leaders, is really in depth, according to King, and will even include co-op opportunities for the advanced student and lead to NOCTI (National Occupational Competency Testing Institute) certification for the student. That will qualify such students for immediate employment in their field.
“It is important that they get into a trade where they won’t be doing the same thing all their life,” King said, who explained their training would qualify them for future positions of increasing responsibility.
The welding program is just the first step. Over the next five years Judge plans to roll out a number of other state-certified programs, perhaps in the biomedical, mechanical engineering or aviation technology fields just as some possibilities, depending upon demand.
This does not mean Father Judge is moving away from the academic programs necessary for those students who are college bound. Other innovative initiatives in those areas will be announced shortly, King said.
The new welding program will start in the fall for an initial class of 32 students, according to Judge Principal Peter Chapla. So far 68 students have signed up for it.
Clearly, CTE has a future at Father Judge.
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