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Photo courtesy of St. Francis Prep
The school’s 162nd commencement ceremony was scheduled to take place, as it has for decades, on the first Saturday of June. Prep hopes to eventually have an in-person ceremony, but there is no guarantee.

St. Francis Prep is celebrating the class of 2020 as more than 600 seniors graduate with prestigious college offers and merit scholarships. 

Despite challenges set forth by the coronavirus pandemic, St. Francis Prep seniors have been attending classes and events virtually, including their final senior assembly. 

The school’s 162nd commencement ceremony was scheduled to take place, as it has for decades, on the first Saturday of June. Prep hopes to eventually have an in-person ceremony, but there is no guarantee. 

In recent weeks, Prep President Brother Leonard Conway reached out to families advising them that no student would be asked to leave if their family was suffering hardship due to the impact of the pandemic.

On May 5, Conway and Prep launched the TerrierSTAR Program, or Student Tuition Assistance & Relief, with a heartfelt video plea. The school, whose beginnings go back to 1858, saw alumni start to reach out to offer any assistance they could.

One alum was TV personality, Julie Chen, from the class of 1987, who promised to match every single donation made to the TerrierSTAR fund. 

Despite the current circumstances, Prep’s seniors have established themselves with the broad array of colleges they will attend, along with a sheer amount of scholarship money they have earned. 

Prep seniors, who along with the entire school community, have adopted the phrase, “Terrier Tough,” have received acceptances from among other schools such as New York University, Cornell University, Macaulay Honors College, the Sophie Davis School, McGill University, Dartmouth College, Villanova University and Lafayette College, where a set of triplets were all offered a scholarship.

One student received a full, named scholarship from Columbia University, and five students received full scholarships from New York University. Three female students will be attending West Virginia University, Xavier University and Howard University to play Division-I basketball, all on a full scholarship. 

As in past years, seniors had the opportunity to have on-site interviews, which always results in significant scholarship offers. Currently, Prep’s College Office is preparing statistics on scholarships, and even with institutions “on pause,” this year’s senior class is well within reach of previous year’s scholarship totals. 

The average total merit scholarship total for Prep seniors over the last five years is nearly $150 million. 

Robyn Armon, longtime award winning director of College Counseling at Prep, as well as the chair of Guidance, credits her involvement as a major reason Prep’s College Office is able to provide as much as they do to their students. 

“If I won the lottery, I’d still do what I do, and no differently. Changing the trajectory of children’s lives is the most important thing we can do,” said Armon, who is a member of numerous national boards, including the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and is a voting member of the College Board.  

Armon cited Prep’s Senior College Process Symposium as a major resource for rising seniors. 

The symposium addresses numerous elements inherent to the college application process, including the application process, the college essay, scholarship opportunities and new financial aid information, SUNY and CUNY applications, the Common Application, and the student resume.

St. Francis Prep is recognizing the need for specialized attention for its current junior class in the college process. 

“SFP is focusing our time and energy on adapting to the changing landscape with our only goal of supporting you as we work together to navigate this process,” Armon wrote to the junior class. “We are here, and we are available to help!”

Prep’s Guidance Department has been recognized with the Middle States Association of Colleges and School’s Program of Distinction in School Counseling, after a self-study and visit by multiple representatives from the Middle States.

A major part of the Prep’s Guidance department is college counseling. Prep has traditionally boasted a college attendance rate of over 99 percent, with the remaining students enlisting in the country’s armed forces, or entering the workforce to save for college.

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