Sophia Holds “Groundbreaking” Ceremonies for New Home
Sophia Academy is moving back to the Elmwood neighborhood where Founder Mary Reilly, rsm began the school 12 years ago.
The school has purchased from the City the former ALP alternative high school building at 582 Elmwood Avenue and hopes to move into its new home during early 2014. Sophia has been leasing the St. Edwards Grammar School building on Branch Avenue for the last ten years.
At “groundbreaking” cermonies held today, Head of School Gigi DiBello said Elmwood Avenue location is close to where most of the school’s students, families and alumnae currently live. She said the new location will allow Sophia to offer programs and activities not only to its students, but potentially to other middle school age girls who live in the area.
DiBello also acknowledged the work done by the School’s Board of Directors saying that for a small organization like Sophia, deciding to purchase a building like this is not a “snap decision.” She personally thanked the Board and the Building Committee for the” thoughtful and deliberate way that they considered all the options before agreeing to go forward with this project.”
Sophia’s Head of School also thanked the “Wisdom to Dream” Campaign Committee saying “their willingness to help Sophia conduct its first ever capital campaign has – quite simply — made today possible.”
To fund the purchase and renovation of the building, the school has embarked on a $1.5 million fundraising effort co-chaired by Rhode Island philanthropists Suzanne Murray and Anne Szostak.
Murray noted that capital campaigns often begin with a “silent” phase where potential donors are approached to gauge support and hopefully secure at least some donations to serve as a foundation.
The response to Sophia during the silent phase has been “overwhelming,” she said. Murray announced that more than $1.4 million has already been raised in gifts and pledges without the benefit of any publicity. The school will continue to raise funds to meet its goal, as well as to pay for new classroom furniture and other equipment. (For more information on how to contribute, contact the school at 401-784-0021)
Murray also told the gathering that included U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras that the property would be known as the “Mary Reilly Campus” in honor of the school’s founder.
Taveras praised Sophia for teaching its students how to be leaders in the community. Whitehouse said that “Sophia is what’s right about education.”
Sophia Graduates Tenth Class
The Class of 2013 has graduated from Sophia Academy in an emotional ceremony at the Roger Williams Casino building in Providence.
According to Head of School Gigi DiBello, “this is a milestone class as it marks the tenth group of young women to graduate from Sophia.”
DiBello said that in the 2012 New England Common Assessment Testing Data, 100% of the students in the eighth grade class met or exceeded standards in Reading. In Writing, 90% met or exceeded standards. (This is the second straight year that Sophia’s eight graders met or exceeded the reading standard.)
This year’s graduates will be attending some of Rhode Island’s leading high schools including Bay View Academy, Classical High School and the Lincoln School for Girls.
The Class of 2013 participated in several Sophia “firsts” including the basketball team, which completed a successful fourth season this year, and presenting to a packed house of faculty and students at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania where they discussed the importance of a relevant and rigorous middle school education and the Sister Mary Reilly Justice and Gender Seminar, named for the school’s Founder.
“We are proud of the accomplishments of all the girls and hope that they will follow in the footsteps of our Class of 2009,” Di Bello said. She explained that 100% of the members of the’09 class graduated from high school this month.
The members of the graduating Class of 2013 from Sophia Academy are: Janai Abis; Sheila Bautista; Jenna Giraitis; NazJae Greene; Aaryan Julius; Leonely Paulino; Kiara Perez; Kimani Perry; Victoria Prince and Yanelly Tejada
Sophia Academy Receives $25,000 Challenge Match
A faithful and generous donor to Sophia Academy (who wishes to remain anonymous) has pledged to match any new or increased donations up to a total of $25,000 in conjunction with the school’s spring fundraising appeal from Founder, Sr. Mary Reilly.
In her letter to supporters, Sr. Mary says that when “Sophia Academy opened its doors, I made a promise to the girls of our community. I committed to keep our school strong so their sisters, cousins and friends, along with a future generation of girls like them would have the same opportunity for success. And my promise remains. But the ‘soul’ of Sophia can only exist if you and I help maintain it.
“Please renew your promise today with a donation to Sophia Academy and work alongside us to help all girls live safe, happy and productive lives,” she writes.
To renew your committment to Sophia and help us meet the challenge grant, please visit Make a Gift on this website to make your secure donation. Thank you for your support.
PC Coach Cooley Visits Sophia
Providence College Head Basketball Coach Ed Cooley recently visited Sophia Academy to share his inspirational success story with students, faculty and staff.
Cooley, a native of Providence, attended Central High School and earned two Rhode Island High School Player of the Year honors. A 1994 graduate of Stonehill College, where he was a three-time captain of the basketball team, Cooley began his coaching career at UMass-Dartmouth. He helped lead the school to a 25-4 mark and a No. 3 national ranking (1994-95). He returned to his alma mater, Stonehill, and served as an assistant coach for one season (1995-96) before coaching at URI, Boston College and Fairfield University.
He came home to Providence as the Friar’s 15th head coach in 2011.
Cooley’s appearance at Sophia was sponsored by BankRI. For a look at the Coach’s visit, please click on Coach Cooley.
STUDENTS AND FAMILIES