(Palm Beach Gardens, FL) April 18, 2016 – In a joint announcement, the Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach and the University of Notre Dame announced that one of the diocese’s schools, St. Luke Catholic School in Palm Springs, is a new member of the Notre Dame ACE Academies network. The partnership officially begins with the start of the 2016-2017 school year. The Notre Dame ACE Academies are a network of academically excellent, financially sustainable and distinctively Catholic K-8 schools that operate through the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE).

“I am delighted that St. Luke Catholic School is being named as a Notre Dame ACE Academy,” said Gary Gelo, the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Palm Beach. “It is an excellent Catholic school serving a diverse population, and it can only benefit from the exceptional opportunities offered by the Alliance for Catholic Education. We are grateful for this opportunity to work together to advance Catholic education, particularly in this part of Palm Beach County.”

By joining the network, St. Luke becomes part of a network which currently includes eight schools: two in Tucson, Ariz.; two in Tampa, Fla.; and four in Orlando, Fla. Five additional Catholic schools in Indianapolis, Ind.—Central Catholic, Holy Angels, Holy Cross, St. Anthony, and St. Philip Neri—will join the network later this year as well. Most Rev. Gerald M. Barbarito, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Palm Beach, and Rodney Pierre-Antoine, the Gary and Barbara Pasquinelli Family Director of the Notre Dame ACE Academies, announced the partnership on April 15, 2016.

St. Luke Catholic School has been working with ACE throughout the last two years to develop a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum. This partnership allowed St. Luke for the past two summers to host a popular Science and Engineering Student Camp in conjunction with the university. Moving forward the school foresees offering similar innovative education programs.

“I am grateful to Father Tim Scully, C.S.C. and the Alliance for Catholic Education for the outstanding work they are doing in assisting Catholic schools across the country,” said Bishop Barbarito. “I am thankful that St. Luke Catholic School will be named as a Notre Dame ACE Academy as they enter the 2016-17 school year. I also want to acknowledge Father Andrew Brierley, pastor of St. Luke Parish, for his openness to a new governance structure for the school, as St. Luke School partners with the University of Notre Dame. It is our hope that this partnership will assist the school in continuing to serve a diverse population from the parish and surrounding communities.”

St. Luke was founded in 1962 by Rev. Matthew A. Morgan and the Sisters of Mercy from Dublin, Ireland. The school was first accredited by the Florida Catholic School Conference in May 1975 and continues to be accredited by the Florida Catholic Conference and the National Council for Private School Accreditation.  St. Luke serves 182 students from preschool through grade eight. In 2013, Rev. Andrew Brierley became pastor of St. Luke Parish.  Ms. Amy Lopez was recently named principal for the 2016-2017 school year.

“I am delighted that St. Luke Catholic School is being named as a Notre Dame ACE Academy,” said Gary Gelo, the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Palm Beach. “It is an excellent Catholic school serving a diverse population, and it can only benefit from the exceptional opportunities offered by the Alliance for Catholic Education. We are grateful for this opportunity to work together to advance Catholic education, particularly in this part of Palm Beach County.”

The mission of the Notre Dame ACE Academies is to provide a Catholic education of the highest quality to as many children as possible by mobilizing the resources of the University, the diocese, statewide parental choice programs, and local communities. ACE faculty and staff will work closely with school and diocesan leaders in Palm Beach to increase academic achievement, boost enrollment and strengthen the schools’ Catholic identity by enhancing school leadership, curriculum, instruction, professional development, financial management and marketing.

The Notre Dame ACE Academies were founded in 2010 by ACE as a response to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ call for a “new model of sponsorship and collaboration” between Catholic institutions of higher education and parish schools. The network has heeded the call and continues to grow while experiencing both academic and enrollment gains in its schools.

The existing Notre Dame ACE Academies schools are closing the achievement gap that many inner-city students experience. From fall 2011 to spring 2015, on average, students improved in math from the 31st percentile to the 67th percentile, moving from the bottom third to the top third in the nation. In 2015, the network was recognized by the White House as an outstanding resource of educational excellence for Hispanic students.

Enrollment gains at the current Notre Dame ACE Academies have been dramatic as well, defying national trends in Catholic schools. Since the partnership began, Notre Dame ACE Academies in Tucson have increased enrollment by 80 percent, and schools in the Diocese of St. Petersburg have grown their enrollment by 41percent. Overall, the Notre Dame ACE Academies currently serve 2,323 students.  By expanding the partnership to include Palm Beach and Indianapolis, ACE will extend the benefits of its model to more than 3,500 children and their families.

“We are excited to kick things off with our new partners in Palm Beach and to grow our community of committed professional educators,” Rodney Pierre-Antoine added. “Our teachers and principals have demonstrated, with zeal, that it’s possible to close the achievement gap on the south side of Tucson, in Tampa and in Orlando. We’re thrilled that our new partners at St. Luke are just as committed to doing whatever it takes to put every student on the path to college and heaven.”

To learn more about the Notre Dame ACE Academies, visit: https://ace.nd.edu/academies

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