José Cárdenas: Loyola Academy opened in 2011 to prepare academically gifted boys from underprivileged families for Brophy College Prepatory. This month the academy graduated its first class. We’ll talk about the school’s progress since it opened three years ago. But first, here's a little of what Loyola Academy is all about.
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>> Nobody has ever graduated from college in my family, and I'd really like to be the first one to do that.
>> Every child deserves an opportunity. I mean, it's that simple.
>> When I found out I was coming to Loyola, I was ecstatic.
>> Loyola Academy is a middle school at Brophy College Prepatory.
>> We don't refer to ourselves as students, because students, they come to school because they have to.
>> We call them scholars.
>> Scholars, they come to school because they like to.
>> Our scholars are low-income students, most come from public schools, so all families have to qualify for free or reduced lunch.
>> A Loyola scholar is eager to learn, bright, typically hasn't been in a school where he's been challenged.
>> I love to learn. Someday I'd like to become like a marine biologist.
>> I want to become a lawyer or a cardiologist.
>> To get to Loyola, I leave my house at 6:30 in the morning and get home at 7 o’clock at night.
>> Kids are here 10 hours a day, 11 months a year.
>> Academically, we're asking them to meet the demands of a rigorous curriculum. They have gaps already, so we want to close those and then we want to push them.
>> The ethic here is that kids do well. College is an expectation, but we recognize that there's more than academics.
>> Everybody is one big family, one big brotherhood.
José Cárdenas: Here with me are Kendra Krause, Loyola Academy director, and Bob Ryan, Brophy College Prepatory principal. Thank you both for being back with us on "Horizonte." We were here three years ago, talking about your first class. There was a lot of excitement. And now you've reached quite a milestone. As we're talking, we're going to show footage of this ceremony. What do you call it, promotion ceremony? As these kids are going into the ninth grade. Lessons learned from these first three years with these kids?
Kendra Krause: I think fortunately a lot of them, a lot of lessons have been affirmations of what we believed before we started. So to kids that are really committed to education and families that are as well, give them a lot of opportunity, access to really great teachers, a ton of support, and they do well. And I think that's been the biggest lesson. The kids really flourish when the community and the culture, the ethic is geared all based around them. And what is going to allow them to be successful.
José Cárdenas: This first cohort started with 32 kids. Is that right?
Bob Ryan: Yes.
José Cárdenas: And how many participated in the promotion ceremony?
José Cárdenas: Twenty-five promoted last week to the ninth grade. So --
José Cárdenas: And we'll be seeing some of them in a moment on the screen going through the ceremony. It must have been a feeling of tremendous accomplishment for you as well as for them.
Bob Ryan: It was a great moment for the whole school, the whole community. Really proud of the boys, proud of the teachers that spend every day with them, the great work they've done. And as Kendra said, it really just affirmed for us what's possible with kids when they have the right support system and structure in place.
José Cárdenas: Now, when we were here last time you were Both surprised at the number of kids who stuck with it even that first semester, I think is where we had been. Twenty-five out of 32 seems pretty impressive. And I'm sure there's some disappointment they all didn't make it, but do you feel pretty good about that number?
Bob Ryan: Very much so. In fact, it's still surprising to me, you get seventh, eighth grade boys who show up at 7:30, no later than 7:30, some are there earlier than that, and they're there until 5:30 every day. And they don't mind it. They're not pining to get out of there every afternoon. And I think that speaks to the culture that Kendra mentioned that I think has been the absolute key to the program. The real sense of community that's been established up there, the boys feel connected to each other, they feel connected to the school, and so they're not anxious to leave at 5:30.
José Cárdenas: Kendra, we just finished watching some scenes of you shaking hands with these young men as they're going through. You got two more classes now. What are you going to be doing differently, if at all, with these kids as compared to the ones who just made it up?
Kendra Krause: That’s a great question. We're going to learn a ton in the next year, as they're ninth graders for the first time. What are they struggling with and what isn't a struggle at Brophy. So, I know, I know we'll make a ton of adjustments, probably a year from now especially. But we've continuously adjusted, everything from adding time to study vocabulary, to different trips we've taken, to different support mechanisms in place, like we have a parent family coordinator now that we didn't have when we started. So I think one of the graces of our position and our place is the ability to be flexible based on what kids and families need.
José Cárdenas: And Bob, how is life going to be different for this group now that they're in the general population?
Bob Ryan: They kind of exist in a little bit of a cocoon on the top floor of this old classroom building, where they -- that's where they take their classes, it's their big student union, where they spend time in the morning and after school in kind of a study hall session. And then the next year they'll be integrated into the general high school student population of 1,250 boys. So we believe that the whole reason the program exists is so that when boys do get to ninth grade they're ready for all of the challenges and opportunities that await them. But it will be, I mean, it will be different. They're used to having Kendra and her staff, you know, know everything about them on a minute by minute basis, and that won't necessarily be the case next year. But I'm really -- everybody is excited for what they're going to accomplish next year.
José Cárdenas: And Kendra, the whole purpose of the program was to prepare these boys for the prep school. So that will be the real test of whether you've succeeded, but along the way you've been doing testing. Tell us about the results.
Kendra Krause: Right. So, our kids take the IOB 6 skills test, which is a fairly common standardized test. They take it every October, September. And in general, our kids have made two years of academic growth for every year that they’ve been with us. So, if they came in at a sixth grade level, in theory, tested at a 10th grade level at the beginning of 8th grade. So we're definitely seeing academic growth from an objective metric.
José Cárdenas: So you're pretty comfortable they're going to make it in prep school?
Kendra Krause: Yeah, very. They're awesome.
José Cárdenas: So talk very briefly about the selection process for the kids who are going to start in your program.
Kendra Krause: The biggest thing is they have to qualify financially, so they have to qualify for free or reduced lunch. We want kids and families committed to the education, 10-hour day and 11-month year isn't for everybody. Those 2 things alone make up the driving force of the decision making process. And then we look for kids who are really curious. They've done well in school, but maybe haven't had as much opportunity. And they generally come from schools that wouldn't otherwise -- that don't normally send kids to Brophy.
José Cárdenas: We're almost out of time. Finances, how do you pay for this?
Bob Ryan: The school -- the reason the program exists is because we believe all young people deserve a quality education. And so we have had financial aid in place for students at the high school for years, but realized that for kids that came from underserved communities, finances were only part of the equation. So, the school made a commitment to make it possible for these kids beginning in sixth grade. So it's a combination of the state tax credit, but the primary source of funding is private donations. We've had really generous funders that have supported us.
José Cárdenas: And you've done very well with what you've had, so my congratulations to both of you. I hope to see you guys back, what, three years from now when these kids are graduated from high school?
Bob Ryan: We'd love it.
José Cárdenas: And we’ll see how things did then.
Kendra Krause: Thank you.
José Cárdenas: That's our show for tonight. From all of us at eight and "Horizonte" I'm José Cárdenas. Have a good night.