QCHS offers ‘unparalleled’ opportunities

If a stu­dent is seek­ing an oppor­tu­ni­ty to become col­lege or career ready, Quakertown Community High School has all of the prepa­ra­tion need­ed for suc­cess.

A sur­vey of the 2020 class showed that the 85 respond­ing grad­u­ates were offered $6.4 mil­lion in schol­ar­ships from the schools they applied to and ulti­mate­ly accept­ed awards of $1.7 mil­lion. Combined with class­es at the Upper Bucks County Technical School, the oppor­tu­ni­ty to begin a career right out of high school may also be an option.

“I would encour­age stu­dents to pur­sue their pas­sion,” said Douglas Detweiler, a high school coun­selor. “We have so many options. Challenge your­self with a rig­or­ous aca­d­e­m­ic course load, but know what your bal­ance is. GPA and stan­dard­ized test scores are impor­tant but so are com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice and lead­er­ship. Leadership is devel­oped with­in their pas­sion. That’s what peo­ple look for: pas­sion, achieve­ment, and lead­er­ship. Academics is very impor­tant but it’s not the only piece.”

QCHS pro­vides a diverse cur­ricu­lum that boasts 28 Advanced Placement cours­es, 32 Honors cours­es, rig­or­ous and inno­v­a­tive Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics cours­es through Project Lead The Way, dual enroll­ment part­ner­ships with Bucks County Community College, access to a state-of-the-art TV pro­duc­tion stu­dio, cook­ing lab, dance stu­dio and oth­er spe­cial­ized learn­ing envi­ron­ments, includ­ing a state cham­pi­on music pro­gram, plus the abil­i­ty to join dozens of clubs and orga­ni­za­tions and a staff of teach­ers sec­ond to none.

If you’re inspired to lead, QCHS can help you suc­ceed. Here are some exam­ples:

Matt Catalano: The QCHS senior has accept­ed a pres­i­den­tial schol­ar­ship from Villanova, which awards only 25 each year to a class of approx­i­mate­ly 1,700 incom­ing stu­dents. As a Presidential Scholar, Matt’s tuition and room and board is paid for and includes a stipend for books each year.

Elizabeth Hilton: The QCHS senior has accept­ed the 2021 McKinstry Scholarship from Penn State. It pays full tuition and half of on-campus room and board costs to study Biology or Pre-Medicine at PSU’s University Park cam­pus. Elizabeth’s accep­tance into the school’s Schreyer Honors College awards her an addi­tion­al $5,000 each year.

Raymond Slifer: The QCHS senior, who also attends the Upper Bucks County Technical School, is a Cooperative Education stu­dent trainee employed by Bracalente Manufacturing Group in Trumbauersville. He is enrolled in the UBCTS/Bucks County Community College Technical Entrepreneurship Program and will seek his associate’s degree upon grad­u­a­tion. He will then trans­fer to Pennsylvania College of Technology and major in Manufacturing Engineering while con­tin­u­ing to work. At this point, he’s unsure what his col­lege costs will be.

Mr. Detweiler’s let­ter of rec­om­men­da­tion helped Matt land Villanova’s pres­i­den­tial schol­ar­ship. And although Matt is among the school’s finest stu­dents — receiv­ing a Letter of Commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Program and becom­ing a can­di­date for the United States Presidential Scholars Program — Mr. Detweiler said Matt’s strength is not his innate abil­i­ty to learn. It’s “his love to learn and work eth­ic” that built his incred­i­ble resume. “He puts per­spi­ra­tion into it.”

Matt has tak­en 16 AP cours­es at QCHS. And while that could be a chal­leng­ing work­load, he was also cap­tain of the boys bas­ket­ball team for three years and pres­i­dent of both Key Club and the National Honor Society. Within those groups he has devel­oped lead­er­ship skills by being part of food dri­ves for the Quakertown Food Pantry, join­ing Best Buddies to become a men­tor to ele­men­tary school stu­dents and coach­ing young stu­dents in a spring bas­ket­ball league.

“Our school offers oppor­tu­ni­ties that are unpar­al­leled any­where,” Matt said. “There are so many ways to get involved with things you’re pas­sion­ate about. I real­ly enjoyed serv­ing the com­mu­ni­ty through dif­fer­ent projects. It was real­ly reward­ing.”

Elizabeth’s high school expe­ri­ence is sim­i­lar to Matt’s in that she has tak­en 14 AP class­es, is enrolled in two BCCC class­es, and is involved in a host of activ­i­ties. She’s vice pres­i­dent of NHS and is part of Key Club, Technology Student Association, Future Business Leaders of America, Mini-THON and Student Council. She is also an Ambassador Girl Scout and has served as a stu­dent vol­un­teer at St. Luke’s Hospital.

“My expe­ri­ence has been that col­leges want to see you involved in more than aca­d­e­mics,” said Elizabeth, who plans a career in pedi­atrics. “They want you to have moved for­ward with ways to help the com­mu­ni­ty, that you have a focus on how to use your strengths to help oth­ers.”

Raymond, Pennsylvania’s only Career and Technical Education semi­fi­nal­ist can­di­date in the 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program and one of 56 nation­wide, has been involved with NHS and the National Technical Honors Society, in addi­tion to SkillsUSA. He’s an Eagle Scout and a junior fire­fight­er with the Richlandtown Fire Co.

Raymond said QCHS and UBCTS “have any­thing and every­thing” to pre­pare stu­dents for suc­cess. And that may mean jump­ing direct­ly into the work­force. “A lot of my friends are doing real­ly well,” he said. “College isn’t for every­one. They want to learn as much as they can through work­ing. That’s a dif­fer­ent way to learn and there’s noth­ing wrong with it.”

As well-rounded as the high school’s aca­d­e­m­ic pro­gram and stu­dent expe­ri­ences have been, they are going to be fur­ther enhanced with the imple­men­ta­tion of Career Pathways. Career Pathways is a pro­gram designed to empow­er stu­dents to shape their post­sec­ondary future by engag­ing them through active inquiry, prob­lem based learn­ing, per­son­al­ized learn­ing expe­ri­ences and rig­or­ous aca­d­e­m­ic pro­gram­ming aligned to the ever-changing work­force trends. Within the Pathways frame­work, oppor­tu­ni­ties will exist for explo­ration, skill devel­op­ment, and cul­ti­vat­ing con­nec­tions with local and nation­al indus­tries to help pre­pare stu­dents to pos­i­tive­ly con­tribute to and lead a com­pet­i­tive glob­al work­force.

“We are focused on evolv­ing class­room instruc­tion with­in all cur­ricu­lum to make con­tent more real world rel­e­vant for stu­dents,” said Assistant Principal Jennifer Carolla. “One of the goals of the Career Pathways pro­gram is to engage stu­dents more in the learn­ing process. Through increas­ing rel­e­vance and high­light­ing the real world applic­a­bil­i­ty of skills being taught, learn­ing becomes more engag­ing and mean­ing­ful to stu­dents. It also becomes more self-directed as stu­dents select course work in a par­tic­u­lar path­way that aligns with their inter­ests and pas­sions. Increased stu­dent inter­est and moti­va­tion com­bined with teacher/student men­tor­ing through our Pathways advi­so­ry groups should yield even high­er over­all aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment.

“We already have a strong foun­da­tion of aca­d­e­mics at the high school but through Pathways, we are work­ing to strength­en and fur­ther build upon the great work that is hap­pen­ing here. Pathways is meant to help all stu­dents at QCHS dis­cov­er their inter­ests and devel­op their skill sets to put them in a posi­tion to excel when they leave us.”

Mrs. Carolla explained that through the Pathways process and the program’s field study com­po­nent, stu­dents will have expe­ri­ences in their cho­sen field. “The tech­ni­cal and soft skills, expe­ri­ences and self-awareness acquired will set our stu­dents apart in their attempts to gain schol­ar­ships or accep­tance to col­lege or earn a posi­tion in the work­force,” she said. “These authen­tic expe­ri­ences will make them that much more con­fi­dent and mar­ketable regard­less of the post sec­ondary path they choose.”