Malvern to implement new senior theology curriculum next year


Sean Ward

Seniors now must take a full year of Theology for the 2016-2017 school year

Starting next year, Malvern will require four full credits of theology, instead of the previous three and a half credit requirement.

The change was made in order to expose students more fully to Catholic teaching, according to Theology teacher Alex Haynie.

“We are a Catholic School, and we have a responsibility to teach theology for four years,” Director of Augustinian Identity Fr. Christopher Drennen, OSA, said.

Drennen said he isn’t really sure how four, full years of theology got lost in the shuffle of the Malvern curriculum in the past.

According to Haynie, every school in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is required to teach four full years of theology. Although Malvern Prep is located in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, the school is independent and not part of the Archdiocese’s listings.

But according to Head of Upper Mr. Ronald Algeo, the changes were made to comply with the bishop’s curriculum requirements and to reflect Malvern’s Catholic identity.

Instead of a single semester of theology senior year, Drennen said students will take four separate quarter long classes: Comparative Religions, Ethics and Christian Service, Faith and Reason, and Human Love and the Divine Plan.

The classes will be taught by current senior Theology Teachers Mr. Rick Poce, Mr. Larry Legner, and Haynie.

Haynie has a very positive outlook for the new system.

“I’m very excited for the new curriculum,” he said, “and I think that theology is an important subject that should integrate into all of our lives.”

Drennen is also looking forward to the new curriculum. “It will lead to good discussions, and give students more opportunity to reflect on different subjects,” he said.

However, several current juniors, who will be the first to experience the new curriculum, are not as optimistic.

Junior Zach DeStefano dislikes the new curriculum, and thinks that it will deal with matters that students have previously covered. He also thinks that it restricts students’ ability to customize their schedule.

“For strong academic kids with many AP’s and double classes, the one-semester theology curriculum requirement allows these students to take creative classes or health,” he said.

Junior R.J. Napoli said he understands the reasoning and value of implementing four full years of theology, but wishes that students had been given more notice for the schedule change.

“I feel that what they’re doing by not grandfathering in the junior class, or even the sophomore class, is punishing the people that planned ahead,” Napoli said.

Napoli said he had his curriculum planned since freshman year, and had planned to take a English semester class next year. Now because of the new curriculum, he does not think he can do so.

However, according to Drennen, rising seniors who had planned to take an elective for mandatory credit next year will have some flexibility because they didn’t know it was coming.

In an email to the student body Drennen said that since the full-year theology is a new requirement, it will not conflict with requirements for the class of 2017. He instructed students who may still need a semester of Computer Science, Health, Physical Education, or Arts to discuss this with him.

“We are going to make sure everyone graduates,” Drennen said with a chuckle. “Having a student not be able to graduate because of the sudden change wouldn’t make any sense.”