By Tim Zvoncheck ‘19
Last issue, we wrote about the passing of Rev. Robert J. Welsh, S.J. ‘54. And months later, the Saint Ignatius Community is still recognizing his legacy. Welsh Academy, a middle school for boys from Cleveland, will soon be opening in his honor.
The school presents a new learning experience for inner-city boys of modest economic means. Each grade will be filled with about twenty-five students. Prospective students will partake in an application process which includes an interview with him and his family. The school is designed for students who were previously enrolled at a Cleveland Public School. Thus, no students will be drawn from any other local Catholic schools. There will be no tuition for the students who attend, in order to eliminate any financial burdens prohibiting students from reaching their academic potential.
A typical day at Welsh Academy will last from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The long day will prepare the students for high school, college, and careers. The day will be different from that of an average middle school. Welsh Academy will integrate different styles of learning to meet the needs of the students, including field trips and collaborative projects. The current plan also involves students from both schools coming together to celebrate Mass periodically, attending all-school events together, and eating in the same cafeteria, the Rade Dining Hall.
The location for the inaugural school year is still undecided. However, by August of 2020, the old church near Gibbons Hall will be completely renovated into the new Welsh Academy.
New faculty and staff will be hired to teach the young students. Currently, Ms. Vogel, Director of Implementation of The Welsh Academy, has been working full time on the project. As one can imagine, starting a new school is no easy task. Each day, she works on different aspects of the school – curriculum, fundraising, admissions, job descriptions, etc. Additionally, Mr. Dan Dixon, S.J. has been helping Ms. Vogel to hire more staff by the spring.
The creation of Welsh Academy helps fulfill the Saint Ignatius mission even more. Although The Welsh Academy student does not get automatically admitted into Saint Ignatius High School, the hope is that they will be accepted and continue their educations as a Wildcat before going to college. Welsh Academy fulfills Fr. Welsh’s dream and shows that Saint Ignatius High School is taking a huge step in the right direction by providing high-quality education to those who might not have other options available.
The Welsh Academy mission statement sums up the purpose very well. It reads, “Inspired by the Catholic faith in the Jesuit tradition, The Welsh Academy serves the unique needs of early adolescent boys of modest economic means in their journey of becoming men for others. Rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, The Welsh Academy shares the mission and life of Saint Ignatius High School, forming boys to grow in faith, leadership, academic excellence, and the desire for lifelong learning.”