Somerville: Immaculata High School Launches 4 New Academic Initiatives

After receiving training at Goucher College, Theology teacher Michelle Tucek, left, along with English teacher Nancy Bonham, work together to prepare for the AP CapstoneTM course. Credits: Courtesy Immaculata High School
Credits: Courtesy Immaculata High School

SOMERVILLE, NJ - Immaculata High School is launching four new academic initiatives in the 2017 school year,, inspired by the school’s pillars: faith, scholarship, service, and friendship.  

Immaculata is one of approximately 1,000 schools worldwide to implement AP CapstoneTM - an innovative diploma program for high school students to develop successful college skills: research, collaboration, and communication. The program consists of two courses taken in sequence: AP® Seminar and AP Research. Immaculata is only the second Catholic school in the state and the first school in Somerset, Hunterdon, and Mercer Counties to participate in AP CapstoneTM.

This fall Immaculata’s AP Seminar, a joint effort of  the English and Theology departments, will be offered to all 11th and 12th grade Marian Scholars  (a program which best positions academically talented students for admission into the most competitive colleges) as its pilot group. In the future the AP CapstoneTM Program will include both AP Seminar and AP Research, and be offered to a broader group of potential students, according to Joe Conry, assistant principal for Academic Affairs. 

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This year the students will explore contemporary topics, both local and global, connected to human dignity issues such as immigration, the environment, technology, the disenfranchised, and diversity. Using Catholic Social Teaching as the foundation, the teachers will facilitate and empower the students to conduct college level research.

Using articles, research studies, and scholarly journals, as well as foundational and philosophical texts, students will tackle complex questions, understand and evaluate opposing viewpoints, interpret and synthesize information, and construct, communicate, and defend evidence-based arguments. The power of this program is that the research and topics are student driven, teaching them to discern accurate and authentic data and facts.

A partnership between Immaculata and Georgian Court University will be officially established in mid-September when Joseph R. Marbach, GCU president and Jean G. Kline, IHS principal sign the agreement.  Included in this program are the potential  for dual credit college courses,  guaranteed college acceptance (meeting standard admissions requirements), partnership scholarships, and several collaborative opportunities for both students and faculty.

A diocesan grant for a school-wide STEM -  Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics - initiative was announced during Catholic Schools Week in January.  To date, Immaculata has used these funds to equip a STEM-focused lab with new laptops, furnishings, and textbooks as well as purchase digital screen microscopes; TI-Nspire hand-held calculators; new Mathematics software that connects to TI-84 Plus calculators; as well as five document cameras. Teachers have also attended a variety of workshops throughout the summer to further enhance the STEM curricula. An AP Computer Science A class will be taught this fall.

Finally, Immaculata will unveil a new Career Mentoring program for the senior class.  Using a career inventory from Naviance, a college and career readiness program, seniors will be partnered with mentors in professional industries to shadow them for a day. Students will identify areas of  interest and academic strengths to pinpoint potential careers and college majors. The expectation is that the mentoring will be alumni-driven, which is a great avenue in which graduates can reconnect with their alma mater.  This program gives our students an authentic work experience and sets the stage for future mentoring and internships. It adds great value to the students’ high school career and exposes them to real-world perspectives.

“With the academic initiatives we have planned, the unveiling of our state-of-the art theatre, our new art wing with a digital lab, and all the innovations and exciting goals planned by our faculty and coaches, the 2017-18 school year promises to be outstanding,” Kline said.

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