Vincentian Academy Educating the Mind and the Heart

By Janice Lane Palko

There is some debate whether ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle actually said that “Educating the head without educating the heart is no education at all,” but whether he gets the credit or not for the quote, the students at Vincentian Academy are not only receiving a top-notch education, but they are also developing hearts for their fellow human beings.

To learn more about Vincentian Academy, visit their Open House scheduled for Sunday, January 27, 2019, 1-3 p.m. or visit the website at:

Located in McCandless Township, Vincentian Academy, a co-ed Catholic high school, is in its 86th year of educating students and preparing them to be tomorrow’s leaders. The school is a shining example of what a 21st century Catholic high school should be. Its globally recognized IB program thoroughly prepares students for a college education. “We are the only Catholic IB World High School in Pennsylvania, and we have a 100 percent college admission rate,” said Mrs. Rita Canton, Principal/Head of School. “Our graduates go on to attend the top colleges and universities in the nation and the world.”

Each Vincentian student has a laptop, and the school boasts a newly renovated computer lab as well as a curriculum that provides additional courses in technology, engineering and robotics. Vincentian’s stellar reputation is well-known and attracts students from around the world. The 66 students from the Class of 2018 were accepted to 155 of the world’s finest colleges and universities and were offered $15.2 million in college scholarships.

Along with its rigorous curriculum, Vincentian Academy has an outstanding performing arts program, 35 clubs and a successful athletic program, fielding 17 sports. The Vincentian Academy Royals have earned numerous WPIAL and PIAA state titles, including back-to-back PIAA state championships in girls’ basketball, three PIAA cross-country championships and the 2016 and 2018 PIAA state championships in baseball.

A ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, students at Vincentian Academy follow the example set by those sisters by bringing the love of Christ into the world. The amount and magnitude of service projects Vincentian Academy students have undertaken is nothing short of remarkable.

Mission trip to Belize

Last April 22, Mrs. Canton; Mrs. Jacquie Hopkins, assistant to the principal; Sister Luke Boiarski, a Sister of Charity of Nazareth; and a group of Vincentian Academy students traveled to Belize, Central America, to build the 350th Hand in Hand Ministries House for Ms. Sherlene and her three children. “Working on this house has been a really enriching experience for all of us,” said student Ella Kozel. According to Nicholas Kenna, a current junior, the experience will affect him for the rest of his life. He said, “This is been the best week of my life.”

Lynnie Belko joined her daughter, Teresa, on the trip to learn about new places “and understand that we are all the same everywhere we go and that we can live our faith every day in what we do as long as we follow in God’s path and listen to him in our hearts, we will end up where we need to be,” she said. “And I believe in this point in our lives, this is where we needed to be.”

Hurricane Harvey Relief

Students Anna Kim, Brinna Babich and Julia Cordisco dedicated their Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) project to aiding victims who were affected by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. They designed a T-shirt to sell and donated the proceeds to hurricane relief as well as collected needed items such as cleaning supplies, blankets, bottled water, etc.

The funds were distributed by the National Catholic Association’s “Student to Student” campaign, launched on Sept. 1, 2017, to support the areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Emmaus Community Volunteers

The Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh, a nonprofit dedicating to providing comprehensive support to individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism, benefitted from the support of students Thomas Kim, Joohyun Kim, Root Li and Aiden Zhou. They have helped with Emmaus’ Annual Thanksgiving Celebration, Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, and various fundraising events. They have even taught Emmaus’ residents how to play hand bells!

Laurie Song, who also regularly volunteers at the Emmaus Community, took up the cause of connecting the grandchildren of Korean War Veterans to Korean youth. She heard that the Korean War is called the “Forgotten War,” and acted to change that. She contacted the Blue House (the Presidential Palace in South Korea) asking for Korean Flags to present to veterans here.

Color Run for Cystic Fibrosis

Last February 8, students Caroline Elliott, Mark Yakim and Marina Eyster were honored with the 2017 Outstanding Great Strides Partner Award by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at the Omni William Penn Hotel. They were recognized for their efforts in their Color Run for a Cure, held in September 2017, which raised $10,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for research and awareness.

Caroline and Marina sponsored a second Color Run this past summer. Though they had already graduated, they wanted to continue the great effort that they had begun to increase awareness of Cystic Fibrosis and to assist in funding the research to eliminate it. They raised over $7000 in this second effort.

Bubble Run to Beat Breast Cancer

Seniors Vincenzo Battaglia, James Lutz, Jacob Lowry and Matthew Matisz hosted the Bubble Run 2 Beat Breast Cancer on September 15, 2018 at Vincentian Academy, utilizing its beautiful 67 acres.  The students donated the proceeds of the run to the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Awareness Fund.

Bids for Kids for Children’s Hospital

Students Alex Sturgis and Gia Sunseri hosted Bids for Kids, an event and silent auction to benefit the patients in the burn unit of Children’s Hospital. This event, which required major planning, including the solicitation of sponsorships and donations, raised more than $7,000.

To learn more about Vincentian Academy, visit their Open House scheduled for Sunday, January 17, 2019, 1-3 p.m. or visit the website at: