GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — During the month of August, before schools were back in session around West Michigan, students going into their senior year at Catholic Central High School gathered for a retreat. The theme this year was “Cross the Bridge.”
That’s where Maggie Pinter and Sinclaire Bice first met, but they are getting to know each other better in class through a new program. It’s called AMDG Inclusion, which stands for ad majorem dei gloriam, “for the greater glory of God,” explained Terrence Tyrell, the president of the high school.
“The key is peer-to-peer mentoring,” Tyrell said. “(Catholic Central) has been around for a long time doing a lot of great things for Grand Rapids, but we’ve never been able to serve all students.”
Tyrell said he’s heard from too many families who had three out or four children in the school and wanted to see a world where all siblings could attend school together.
“This program was the answer … and it’s gone beyond my hopes and dreams. Seeing students with Down syndrome or autism who maybe wouldn’t have been here in the past, seeing them not just being here, but thriving, has been wonderful,” he added.
School districts across West Michigan have added peer-to-peer programs over the last decade but leadership at Catholic Central High School modeled its program after a similar offering at St. Mary’s Catholic Central on the east side with an emphasis on service to honor God.
Bice has friends she knows from playing percussion in the marching band, but being a part of the program has widened her social circle. Maggie Pinter doesn’t think the two would have had the opportunity to become friends without AMDG.
“Sitting with her in classes, getting to know everybody, its a great opportunity and a great program. We’ve all kind of come together and made friends with each other,” she said.
Enrollment is up this year at Catholic Central, which Tyrell said is, in small part, thanks to the program, but he hopes it will lead to more growth in the future as the impact of the program becomes more evident.
“As word gets out within Grand Rapids that Catholic Central is serving all students, I think more students will want to be here and be a part of this wonderful culture,” said Tyrell.