Five hundred students enroll in Pope Francis Academy


Nearly 500 students have enrolled in the new Pope Francis Global Academy which will open on Aug. 22 in the former Saint Tarcissus School and Saint Pascal School.

Academy director of admissions and advancement Jodi Thyen said that the final enrollment could be up to 20 percent higher, as school officials are planning to increase its community outreach this summer.

Open houses, informal gatherings and displays at community festivals are among the planned activities, and clothing with the school logo will be available for the enrolled students.

Due to declining enrollment, Saint Tarcissus, Saint Pascal, Saint Cornelius and Our Lady of Victory schools will close this month and be merged into the academy, which will serve students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

The north campus will be at Saint Tarcissus, 6040 W. Ardmore Ave., and the south campus will be at Saint Pascal, 6143 W. Irving park Road. The school buildings at Saint Cornelius and Our Lady of Victory will not be used for the academy, and plans for those facilities have not been announced.

The two campuses will share administrators, and students from each campus will participate on the same sports teams. "It’s a single school, with two campuses," Thyen said.

So far the academy’s recruiting efforts have been directed primarily toward the families of the four parishes which will make up the academy, Thyen said.

As expected, students at Saint Tarcissus and Saint Pascal were more likely to enroll at the academy, due to their familiarity with the school building and the surrounding area, Thyen said. "Unfortunately there was going to be some attrition," she said. "Some of this is for logistics. Some used to walk to school, and they don’t have this any more."

All of the enrolled students have been assigned to the campus that their parents requested, and enrollment at the north campus is expected to be higher than at the south campus in part because Saint Tarcissus had the highest number of students of the four schools, Thyen said. The north campus will have two classrooms in at least four grades, she said.

Enrollment should increase over the next few years as name recognition of the academy grows and more parents learn about its challenging curriculum, Thyen said.

The "global" theme of the curriculum encourages teachers to link their daily lessons to events and issues around the world.

For example, in mathematics, students may learn about monetary exchange rates, and in social studies, students may be asked to compare their neighborhood to a rural community in another country, Thyen said. Another possibility would be for students to be Internet pen pals with students from a different culture, she said.

Tours of the academy can be arranged by calling 773-892-2011 or by sending an e-mail to

The academy’s Web site can be reached at