When Danielle Stone crosses the stage next June to collect her diploma at Miami’s Archbishop Curley Notre Dame, she’ll join an exclusive club in her family: high school graduate.
Danielle, 17, can name just three members within her immediate and extended family who’ve earned a diploma. Some years ago, Danielle wasn’t so sure she’d get the chance to finish high school either. Although a bright student who liked her teachers and got along well with classmates, Danielle found it difficult to get interested in learning throughout her elementary school years. She couldn’t get motivated in her classwork and worried too much about big tests. The result was average grades and detachment from school activities.
In sixth grade, Danielle enrolled in a charter middle school. Because the school was small, she was able to nurture relationships with her teachers who zeroed in on her learning needs and identified academic problem areas. As a result, Danielle’s motivation to do well in school improved.
More changes that would test Danielle’s mettle were ahead. The summer before her freshman year of high school, Danielle’s family moved across town. The news items that she read about her new neighborhood school included reports of violence and gangs. Danielle knew if she attended that school, she risked sliding back to being an unmotivated student or worse. Danielle’s pleas with her mother, Sharick, to let her attend the high school in her old neighborhood fell on deaf ears.
Both Danielle and her mother, Sharick, were unsure of the next step. The answer came to them while walking to their neighborhood store when they saw the sign for Archbishop Curley Notre Dame.
Sharick eventually visited the school and met with members of the administration. She liked the school but balked at enrolling Danielle because the tuition was out of reach. But she changed her mind once the family was awarded a Step Up for Students scholarship and enrolled Danielle in the school. About 97 Step Up scholars attend Archbishop Curley Notre Dame.
It’s a decision that Danielle is sure changed her life for the better. While many of her friends from her old school and neighborhood have become teen moms or have dropped out of school, Danielle is researching her top choices for college where she hopes to study veterinarian medicine.
At Archbishop Curley Notre Dame, Danielle is active on the cross country track and soccer teams. She likes the variety of classes she’s been able to take, especially a class on world religions. Mostly important, Danielle likes it that her teachers are easily accessible and know the students individually.
“I like it because it’s small,” she said. “It’s really big on family atmosphere.”
Sharick, too, likes the personalized attention Danielle receives. When Danielle was struggling in a few classes last school year, her teachers called a meeting with Sharick to discuss a plan to get Danielle back on track.
“The scholarship has been such a blessing,” Sharick said.
Danielle was irate when her family moved and she learned she wouldn’t attend the same school as her friends from the old neighborhood. Now, she’s glad she didn’t.
“I don’t think I would have finished high school,” she said. “I think I would have ended up way worse than I am now.”
About Archbishop Curley Notre Dame
A 1981 merger of Archbishop Curley High School and Notre Dame Academy, ACND is rooted in the educational traditions and charism of the Priests of the Archdiocese of St. Augustine and Miami, by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Brothers of the Holy Cross. Serving more than 300 students in grades 6 through 12, Archbishop Curley offers a college preparatory curriculum. Tuition ranges from $9,400 for grades 6-8 to $10,355 for grades 9-11. Tuition for seniors is $10,655.
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