Querbes program overhaul adds options

Gifted students apply knowledge in faith, academics, service

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  • Photo courtesy of the Querbes Scholars Program

  • Photo courtesy of the Querbes Scholars Program

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Querbes Scholars is a program that allows students who achieve above and beyond in academics to have more education-, religion- and community-focused opportunities.

From its founding in 2010 until last year, the program had more or less the same format each year. This year, though, Saint Viator has reformed the system to focus more on broadening Querbes Scholars’ horizons in the community rather than limiting them to curricular and in-school programs.

“Using feedback from parents, teachers and students, we have created a system to fully realize the potential and development of Querbes students,” said Mr. Paolelli. 

The program is all about taking educational opportunities to the next level. 

In past years, field trips were the majority of the Querbes experiences. They participated in two mandatory field trips each year. This year, the program is hosting more field trips, and they are more diverse. Some are focused on academics, some on religion and some on the fine arts. For instance, students can tour Catholic Churches in the city or enjoy the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Querbes Scholars are required to attend events in various categories, but they can choose from a variety of options or propose their own. After they attend, they write reflections on what they learned.

In addition to field trips, the revamped program has hosted several after-school meetings, including the recent Lives at Law attorney panel. These events are open to the entire student body.

“When we plan these events that are required for Querbes, they are also beneficial for everyone else,” said Mr. Chris Paolelli ’02, current leader of the Querbes Scholars program.

New this year, Querbes Scholars are no longer in a separate homeroom. According to Mr. Paolelli, when Querbes Scholars are dispersed in homerooms with other students, all students benefit from classroom diversity.

Also, instead of being largely limited to students who scored highly on the entrance exam, any freshman, sophomore or junior is now eligible to apply for the program based on their achievements in school.

Still, the Querbes program has remained the same in certain ways. For instance, the students will still have to maintain a certain weighted grade point average, although this is increasing gradually from 97 percent to 101 percent.

Also, the students still must attend and participate in the annual Querbes Symposium. The symposium is a discussion held by senior Querbes Scholars that allows students and faculty to participate in advanced and educational discussions involving their previous knowledge. 

Querbes Scholars say that the revamped Querbes program has both positive and negative impacts on the students. 

“I think it’s pretty cool that we are given so many opportunities this year, but balancing it out with our schedules as students inside and outside of school is a challenge,” said sophomore Querbes Scholar Joe Bollard. 

Other students, like senior Querbes Scholar Hannah Klimas, both embrace and critique the new system.

“The program has improved and now has been redesigned to enrich students not only in academics, but in faith, service and leadership,” said Klimas. “Yet the old system did have its positives, and I feel we would be better off if some of the past policies had remained the same.”

Although the new Querbes program has mixed reactions from the student community, the idea is the same: this system is working to better the relationships with the community rather than being limited to a few in-house activities. By creating new opportunities for all students, the system will have more freedom than ever before. Interests of each specific student are also a key feature that allows the system to run smoothly. From now on, Querbes will not be judged solely on academics, but on the faith, interest, loyalty and integrity that they have for their community.