Francesca wants to study chemistry, write for the yearbook, perform, and compete. She found the opportunity to do all of these at Father Ryan.
We valued the Catholic education Francesca had in pre-k through kindergarten. However, when we moved to Nashville from State College, Pennsylvania, Francesca was entering the first grade and there wasn’t an opening at the Catholic grade school for her. Being Williamson County residents, we enrolled her in public school and decided on private, college preparatory middle school. We talked about looking into Father Ryan for high school during the spring of 8th grade. We came for the Father Ryan campus tour and attended an Academic Blend, but ultimately decided she would stay put for freshman year. It was during the first semester of her freshman year that we realized she needed to come see Father Ryan and experience it for herself. After meeting with Mrs. (Erin) Riggs, and having a great Shadow Day experience, Francesca made the move to the Irish for her sophomore year.
The school is so welcoming for a transfer student, and so supportive of a student’s interests. Francesca had been a dancer at her prior school, but she wanted something different. As a former marching band member myself, I suggested she consider auditioning for Color Guard/Winter Guard. She tried out and was welcomed to the Band world at Father Ryan, which eased the transition, as well as introduced her to a really great group of kids.
Francesca always talked about being part of a Yearbook staff, an option that wasn’t available at her former school. It became an option at Father Ryan. The class was amazing, and this year she is the Junior Editor, helping to tell her school’s story. Imagine coming in as a sophomore, being that new student, and having to interview students you don't know for an article. It has given her a deeper connection to Father Ryan and to other students. It has given her confidence, responsibility, and a wider circle of friends.
However, what impressed us most was the way the school helped further her interest in chemistry. She has wanted to study the subject since 3rd grade, and we really needed someone to foster her love of chemistry and science. The admissions team understood that interest, and they connected her with Dr. (Neelie) Crooke. That has made such an impression. Francesca applied to two summer camps for chemistry - each camp accepted only 20 students – and Dr. Crooke took the time to write her recommendation letters. She was accepted to the program at Bucknell University, and while that didn’t take place this summer, they are already holding a spot for her for next year.
During the pandemic, I even found myself missing the trips onto campus to drop her off for school. This is a place that truly lives its motto – you will be known and you will be loved – and that is true for the parents as well as the students. We have definitely felt that here.