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The Alumni Experience: Choosing Catholic Education Three Times

3 years ago

I was in 7th grade when my parents put all my high school options on the table… there were private schools of all kinds, of course the public high schools nearby, and Catholic high schools affiliated with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

It’s kind of amazing that they didn’t pressure me or nudge me harder towards Archdiocese of Philadelphia Schools (AOPS). My parents were Archdiocesan high school sweethearts — Mom attended the all-girls Archbishop Prendergast High School, and Dad went to the all-boys Monsignor Bonner High School. They met through a mutual connection and went to two proms together. It’s obvious where their hearts were in the decision-making process.

When I visited Monsignor Bonner (now Bonner & Prendergast Catholic High School after their merger), it became obvious to me, too. I felt immediately at home; I knew right away that I was part of something very special.

I remember how much I wanted to get involved with Student Council and how inspired I was to follow my dream of being a professional athlete. From the start, I made lifelong friends, students and faculty alike. The people and atmosphere at Bonner inspired me to do more.

By the time I was ready to graduate from Bonner, I had grown so much academically, athletically, and spiritually. I decided to attend Neumann University, a Franciscan institution, because I wanted to keep the spirit of service in my life. It felt like part of who I was at that point!

Although Neumann was a great fit and an easy transition, I still felt strongly connected to my high school so I stayed engaged by joining the football program as an assistant coach. Soon after graduating from Neumann, I realized that Bonner & Prendergast needed a different kind of help. The school was struggling, and I felt the call to go all-in, helping to run fundraisers (even when I had no money myself to give). I was part of a team that helped establish the successful model in place today, and soon after became Co-Director of Admissions.

Since then, I’ve been devoted to Catholic education, believing strongly that we need to give as many students as we can the opportunity to know and appreciate an Alma Mater like Bonner the same way I did, and my parents before me did.

Steve Clement is a 2006 graduate of Monsignor Bonner High School. He is currently Senior Director of Enrollment Management at the Office of Catholic Education, the organization behind AOPS.