The Foundation Trust is pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s Regional Parochial School Scholarships.
This is the fourth year the Foundation Trust has provided scholarships to offset tuition costs for parochial school students facing financial need and family adversity. The trustees of the Foundation Trust established this scholarship to mitigate the financial burden of unanticipated challenges on a family’s ability to continue their child’s parochial education.
Foundation Trust Regional Parochial School Scholarship Program
Since the Foundation Trust Regional Parochial School Scholarship Program was established in 2018, 11 students have received half- or full-tuition scholarships for an academic year. Nearly $60,000 in scholarships have been awarded through this program.
In partnership with Arlington Catholic High School and the Saint Mary of the Annunciation School in Melrose, the Foundation Trust identified four outstanding students to receive scholarship support for the 2021-2022 academic year. These students and their families have faced financial and life circumstances that have put the continuation of their parochial education at risk.
“After a tremendously turbulent last school year, we are excited to be “back to school” with this new group of scholarship recipients,” said Lauren Liecau, Manager of the Foundation Trust. “The Arlington Catholic and Saint Mary’s communities offer their students much more than just academics, and we are pleased that these scholarships will help provide these students with the support and stability they need to succeed.”
“These students have shown incredible resilience, and we are thrilled and humbled that these scholarships will preserve the continuity of their education in times of hardship,” said Dr. Joseph Spinazzola, Executive Director of the Foundation Trust.
Arlington Catholic Recipients
Arlington Catholic High School families are from many of the communities served by the Foundation Trust, so when we were given the opportunity to support students with backgrounds of trauma or life adversity, we were glad to be able to help.
Working together with Erica Ribeiro, Director of Development at Arlington Catholic, and Patricia Crane, Director of Enrollment, we were able to identify three outstanding candidates for this year’s scholarship program: Aneesh Falaise, Jean-Pierre (JP) Paul, and Natalie Petropoulos.
Father Marc Bishop responded compassionately to the students’ challenges and how difficult the pandemic has been, particularly for the lower-income families served by the scholarship program. “Thank you for all the support you give to our kids,” he added.
Aneesh Falaise is an incoming 9th grader from Stoneham. Originally from Haiti, his family has a long history and affiliation with Arlington Catholic, with several of Aneesh’s relatives having attended the school. “They have been a well-liked and important part of our community, and we are very excited to welcome Aneesh to AC,” says Erica Ribeiro.
Aneesh is from a single parent household, and his mom, Marie, works in a family member’s restaurant. “The restaurant business has been hit particularly hard during the pandemic and the family has struggled,” explained Erica Ribeiro. Aneesh’s older brothers have also been helping to raise him. “We’re very close,” Aneesh shared about his relationship with his brothers.
Aneesh previously attended St. Mary of the Annunciation School in Melrose and wanted to try public school for a year. “It was not a good fit, possibly due to the pandemic,” Aneesh’s mom Marie shared, and Aneesh added that “remote learning was really hard, especially since my friends weren’t in the same cohort.” He is excited to be attending school in person this year, and to have the structure and community offered by Arlington Catholic. “I want to take my academics as far as I can and get better grades. I want to fulfill what is expected of and hoped for me,” he shared.
Aneesh is excited to have joined the AC football team. He trained with the AC football coach, Dave Wilcox, during strength and conditioning camps over summer break. Aneesh's brothers played football at Georgia State and Aneesh also dreams of a college football career. “I’ve been playing basically my whole life,” he noted.
The Foundation Trust Regional Parochial Scholarship will help ease the burden of the Falaise family’s transition back to private school. “Thank you for trusting us and giving this opportunity to families with lower financial means,” Marie commented.
“It was an honor to meet Aneesh and his mom, and I was impressed by how well-spoken this young man is. We wish him a great first year at AC,” commented Lauren Liecau.
“I was not expecting a scholarship at first, but it made me feel really proud. This will be a boost to make me do better because the scholarship means that people are trusting that I will succeed,” said Aneesh.
Jean-Pierre Paul (JP)
Jean-Pierre (JP), an incoming 11th grader of Haitian descent who lives in Waltham, has big plans for his junior year and is “very glad to be back in person.”
JP has been part of the parish community for a long time. He and his older sister attended St. Agnes School before moving up to Arlington Catholic for high school. JP also participated at Fidelity House, an after-school program of the parish that is open to the whole community. This year, JP will actually be working at Fidelity House, mentoring kids and helping them find their place within the Arlington Catholic and St. Agnes community.
Although JP has struggled academically, his hard work and the support of the AC community are helping him make great strides. “I like Arlington Catholic a lot. I’m on an IEP and the Achievement Center has helped me a lot,” JP said. His favorite subject is math, and he is also enjoying his Italian classes. Junior year is when the college search really ramps up, and JP seems excited about the prospects. “I’m really looking forward to talking to colleges. I really like UMass Amherst and BU. I want to study business,” he shared.
One of JP’s favorite activities is playing basketball, and he is really looking forward to the upcoming season. “I’ve been playing since I was six or seven years old,” JP shared. “He’s a vital member of the team and a real mentor to others,” Patricia added.
JP’s teachers also speak highly of him and his engagement in Fidelity House and on the basketball team make him a recognizable figure at the high school. “He’s like the mayor of Arlington Catholic,” commented Erica Ribeiro with a smile.
JP’s junior year at AC almost didn’t happen. “My dad stopped working due to COVID,” JP said, and with his sister away at college, finances were tight. Patricia Crane explained that “if something had to give, it was going to be JP’s spot at Arlington Catholic,” noting that the tuition would have been prohibitive without the scholarship from the Foundation Trust. The alternative would have been for JP to attend a larger public school, where Patricia and JP’s family feared that he would have gotten lost without the support system of Arlington Catholic.
“I am very grateful for the scholarship, it really helped my family,” JP said.
Natalie Petropoulos, of Arlington, is entering 9th grade this fall as well. “I’m looking forward to meeting new kids and having more structure so I can be successful in the future,” she shared.
Since Natalie has struggled in public school, her father, Peter, is excited for Natalie to have the opportunity to join the supportive Arlington Catholic community. “It's as though Natalie is on the fence,” he shared, “and AC will give her an opportunity to be on the path to success."
Natalie also sees this as an important opportunity. “At first I didn’t want to leave my friends at my old school, but I thought about it that I can make new friends and be in a better environment.”
“AC will be an excellent fit for her academically as we can support her unique learning needs in our Achievement Center,” stated Erica Ribeiro. “The funding from Foundation Trust will make a tremendous difference in her life and academic experience.”
Natalie is no stranger to trauma and life adversity, as her mother died of a drug overdose on her 6th birthday. Her father is a self-employed contractor with his own set of health issues related to decades of manual labor. It has been a struggle, but they are continuing to move forward. “When Natalie puts energy into things, she’s really good at them,” shared her father.
“Natalie has overcome a great deal to be where she is today, and we are thrilled to support her continued growth at AC,” said Lauren Liecau.
This summer Natalie has been spending time with friends, playing basketball, and gearing up for the new school year. “I just finished one of my assigned books, Tuesdays with Morrie,” she noted. “My favorite subjects in school are science and English. I really like writing, especially opinion writing.”
Natalie is particularly excited to join the basketball team at Arlington Catholic. She really enjoys playing, and plans to work hard to keep her grades up to be eligible to play for AC this winter. "I want to someday be a student athlete on the varsity team," she shared proudly.
“This is a big deal,” said Peter, smiling at his daughter as we discussed the scholarship. “We wouldn’t be here without the funding, and we are so thankful.”
Saint Mary’s Recipient
The Foundation Trust is grateful to continue our partnership with the Saint Mary of the Annunciation School in Melrose, where we work closely with Principal Christopher Beza to identify students who may be at risk of discontinuing their parochial education if they do not receive additional support.
This year, we are pleased to continue our support of a family in need that has attended St. Mary’s for the past few years. The family immigrated to the area from Haiti in 2019 to escape political unrest which threatened the family’s two young girls’ ability to receive an education.
Aimee is starting first grade this fall at St. Mary’s, her third year at the school after attending for both Pre-K and Kindergarten.
Aimee follows in the footsteps of her older sister, Brittanie, who is a prior recipient of the Foundation Trust Regional Parochial School Scholarship.
“It was important to us that we continue to support this family that has overcome so much to be where they are today,” commented Foundation Trust Executive Director Dr. Joseph Spinazzola. “We are so happy that we can help the family continue to have access to a first-rate parochial education.”
Christopher Beza, Principal of Saint Mary of the Annunciation School, was enthusiastic that Aimee was selected for this year’s scholarship. “Many thanks to the Foundation Trust for its investment in Aimee,” he commented.
As Aimee enters her third school year at St. Mary’s, her mother, Nathalia, reflected on the journey to date and how her daughters adjusted to life in the United States. “The transition was not easy. Everything was new to them,” she shared, then noted the help she received from school. “I like the way the teachers teach and keep the parents close and involved at St. Mary’s school. I received the same type of education from kindergarten through high school in my native country, so I know all the benefits of a parochial education."
In spite of the hardships and adjustments her family endured moving from Haiti to the US to escape political unrest, Aimee is flourishing at school. “Aimee is a hard worker,” her mother said. “Her teachers say that she enjoys learning. She asks and answers questions and is a kind and respectful student. Her work is improving daily.”
Aimee really enjoys being with her friends at school, and she shared that “I like playing and sharing in a group.” When she’s away from school, she draws and writes letters and she likes doing sight words to improve her reading.
The Foundation Trust is honored that this scholarship has given Aimee and her family some continuity at a time when, even without the pandemic, there was so much uncertainty in their lives. “I received the scholarship at the best moment, it helps my family a lot,” Nathalia commented.
Congratulations to all of this year's scholarship recipients!