Though the idea of being in a classroom during the summer may not be appealing to many kids, one Catholic school in particular is focusing on leadership, a skill not many summer programs offer.
Cathedral Preparatory School and Seminary in Elmhurst, an all-boys school, is hosting its 51st annual Father Troike Leadership Program from July 5 to 27. The four-week, $500 program, open to middle school students or rising high school freshmen, is dedicated to spirituality, academics and athletics.
Matthew Dybus, who served as the program director for the last two years, said the Troike program seeks to instill leadership values into young men through these pillars.
“I really think we challenge the boys in this program to their fullest potential,” Dybus said.
Four days a week, students arrive for an optional mass in the morning, followed by 90 minutes of academic study. Students entering the 7th grade focus on leadership building, while those entering the 8th grade are prepped for the Test for Admissions into Catholic High Schools (TACHS) exam.
Students entering their freshman year are taught high-school level math, English and science.
After lunch, students then have dedicated time for recreation and athletics, such as basketball, softball or other group activities. Dybus said the young men learn what it means to be on a team and work collaboratively.
“I think they get a real challenge out of all of that,” he said.
Fridays are set aside for “Brotherhood Days,” which entail competitive games and activities.
Rector-President Father Joseph Fonti, who graduated from Cathedral Prep in 1984 back when it was based in Brooklyn, spent two summers in the Troike program. He said the focus on academics, recreation and faith reflects the school’s mission of raising leaders.
“Body, mind and soul are always important for us,” he said.
Fonti said the program helped him bond with classmates, and informed him of the importance of camaraderie and companionship. The summer session also challenged him in the classroom, and helped address some of his academic weak spots.
“Just becoming aware that the weaknesses weren’t deficits, but they needed to be addressed appropriately,” Fonti said, “and not to be frightened of them.
“Whether it’s in a classroom or on the court, I think there’s a constant reinforcement of giving these young men the encouragement to acquire virtues that are life lessons and building blocks for a happier and healthier lifestyle,” he added.
Many current students at Cathedral Prep have gone through the program prior to enrolling. Junior Anthony Leone from Ozone Park said the Troike program offered him a first look at the school.
“It kind of came to me that Cathedral was the place for me,” he said.
Not only was he able to make long-lasting friendships, he also spoke to current students who shared their stories and expressed what it meant to be a “Crusader.”
It cemented Leone’s decision to attend Cathedral Prep, and instilled in him leadership skills that he noticed immediately.
“I noticed there was a change in maturity level,” Leone said.
John Schilling, now a senior at Cathedral, served as a program counselor for three years. The benefit of being a counselor, he said, is that he met and became friends with prospective students like Leone.
It also taught him about responsibility and working with younger students. As a counselor, Schilling monitored different classes and helped various teachers throughout the program.
“Even though I didn’t come here as a student for the Troike program, it was great that I got to make up for it by being a counselor,” Schilling said. “Getting to form the bonds, getting to know the students and build friendships that hopefully will last a while.”