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“I Love All the Opportunities I Have Here”: From Archbishop Lyke to Gilmour Academy

Originally published on the Partnership Schools website

“Gilmour was quite intimidating, to be honest,” Lula Williams admits.

She and her daughter, Lunden, first encountered the independent Catholic day and boarding school in the Cleveland suburbs last year, when Lunden was in eighth grade at Archbishop Lyke. Immediately, the family noticed two things: the cost of tuition, and the fact that there were fewer people “who looked like us” than at Archbishop Lyke.

But they also noticed the nice campus, the abundant co-curricular activities, and the college-prep curriculum. They decided to give it a shot—and to their surprise and delight, Gilmour admitted Lunden and let her know that she was to receive a Howley Scholarship to attend. “Shine bright—always believe in your dreams,” reads the card Ms. Williams gave Lunden to celebrate her admission.

Pursuing their dreams is precisely what Partnership Schools aim to equip our students to do—particularly game-changing dreams like admission to and scholarships for high-performing high schools. Lunden’s experience at Gilmour Academy embodies both the preparation that our schools aim to provide students and the qualities of high school environments in which they can thrive.

“The community is nice, welcoming, and I have lots of opportunities for activities,” Lunden explains enthusiastically. She enjoyed her first year playing volleyball, for example. And she is quick to note that “the academics are preparing me for college.”

“I thought the work was going to be really hard, but it’s not too hard, not too easy.” Lunden adds, “Archbishop Lyke definitely prepared me.” Her mother is even more emphatic: “Lunden would not be at Gilmour without Archbishop Lyke.” The values and respect at Archbishop Lyke, the way in which “teachers and students hold each other accountable,” are as essential as the curriculum at Lyke, where Lunden’s brother Ralph is currently in seventh grade.

Gilmour definitely still challenges Lunden, particularly physics and giving group presentations in class. But she is quick to note that as a Howley Scholar, she has a resource as valuable as the four-year merit scholarship itself: Kevin Johnson, the Howley Scholars Coordinator at Gilmour.“ Mr. Johnson checks in on you. If you need something, they provide it.” She notes that Mr. Johnson supports her in addition to the faculty advisor that all Gilmour students have.

We call ourselves “Partnership Schools” for one reason: it takes powerful partnerships to help promising students like Lunden thrive. With supportive parents, academic and character formation at Archbishop Lyke, and all that both Gilmour and the Howley Scholars program offer, Lunden is thriving. Meanwhile, Archbishop Lyke and the other three Cleveland Partnership Schools are hard at work, ensuring that hundreds more students have what they need to unlock similar opportunities and “shine bright,” as Lunden’s mom encourages her to do.