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Getting Ahead Before Graduation
Among the benefits of a Holy Cross Preparatory Academy education is unparalleled access to higher education courses.

by Madeleine Maccar

Holy Cross Preparatory Academy takes its role as the only independent Catholic preparatory high school in Burlington County seriously. Its history spans more than 60 years and includes two name changes, but its dedication to developing independent thinkers who are prepared for whatever lies ahead has remained a steady constant.

The school has long partnered with nearby colleges to provide its students with not only the advanced classes they’re hungry for but also the opportunity to begin their higher-education career before high school commencement.

“One of our faculty members, Frank Sgroi, was instrumental in getting the whole thing started back when the school was still part of the diocese,” says Principal David Moffa. “One of our goals has been to continue to increase our dual-enrollment offerings, both through the universities that we already had connections with and also by adding new partnerships. That’s something that we’ve really been able to double down on over the past couple of years.”

He adds: “As a college-prep school, we want to be able to provide opportunities for our kids to take college-level classes while they’re still in high school.”

While Holy Cross is always looking for new ways to help its students not only proactively shape the course of their ongoing education but also thoughtfully consider their career aspirations, its current dual-credit program is a robust and varied one that has something for every high achiever.

In addition to a spate of accredited AP courses, students can also choose from 13 classes offered through Rowan College at Burlington County, seven courses through Seton Hall University, online summer courses with Mount St. Mary’s University, and STEM classes offered by Project Lead the Way and its own partnership with the Rochester Institute of Technology. But Moffa notes that another Seton Hall course is in the works, as is a partnership with Drexel University’s engineering program.

And these days, even freshmen can get a head start on amassing college credits, putting the possibility of graduating from Holy Cross with an associate’s degree already in-hand well within their reach.

“A lot of high schools have a dual-credit program, but Holy Cross has its own unique spin on it,” Moffa says. “We wanted to find ways to give younger students a chance to start getting credits, as well, and one of the ways we’ve been able to do that is through electives. We have a graphic design class that’s an art elective, which has been approved for college credits, so kids can take that in ninth grade—and start getting college credits at 14 years old.”

From a practical side, the program also saves time and money while advantageously positioning students for college both before and after they get there. 

“A major value to the education here is that a student can graduate with enough college credits to get them out of one, two, sometimes even three or four semesters of college, and that alone makes the investment they put into Holy Cross pay off significantly,” Moffa explains. “Then, when they go on to college, they often enter with a large amount of college credits already on their transcripts that help them test out of a lot of the intro-level classes, which frees them up at the college level so they can take classes in their major earlier, or jump into an advanced degree a year earlier. ”

A college-credit program with such scope and breadth wouldn’t be possible without professional connections that facilitate these educational advantages, many of which have their origins at Holy Cross.

“A lot of the partnerships started through connections that we had with these schools,” says Moffa. “We have alumni and board members who were very heavily involved in Mount St. Mary’s and brought that to us. That college-credit partnership has grown into an admissions partnership where, if a student here at Holy Cross meets certain academic criteria, they can be guaranteed admissions and a scholarship of $25,000 a year to Mount St. Mary’s if they apply.”

Those alumni who stay invested in their alma mater’s success are a key component of what makes Holy Cross such a tight-knit community. Moffa says that’s indicative of the family feeling that the school proudly bears as a natural extension of celebrating its past while looking optimistically toward the future.

“It’s a huge part of it, that alumni want to be invested in current students’ success, they want to help us make connections and they want to help grow the school,” he notes. “We don’t want to be a college-prep school that just focuses on preparing them academically and then sends them off: We want to help them form connections and build relationships so that when they go to college, they can be successful and also have that strong network they’ve already created.”

Holy Cross Preparatory Academy
5035 Route 130, Delran
(856) 461-5400

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 5.
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