Christian Brothers Academy has always been rooted in academic excellence, fostered by a college preparatory curriculum that both challenges and supports its students.
More than ever before, CBA’s Colt PLUS Program is helping students succeed in that environment and readying them for college and beyond.
“As a Lasallian college preparatory school, we want to ensure we are providing support for intelligent, college-bound students who learn in a non-traditional fashion,” President Ross Fales said. “It is very much part of our mission to facilitate an appropriate learning environment for those with certain learning differences, so that they can reach their God-given potential as part of the CBA community.”
The Colt PLUS Program is an additional service for highly motivated students with the cognitive ability to adhere to CBA’s college preparatory curriculum but have educational needs that can make it difficult for them to achieve their potential without support.
“Our Colt PLUS students are doing everything that a CBA student does, but we’ve added elements such as writing strategies, English comprehension, testing and study strategies, note-taking skills, and more,” said Amanda Colannino, director of the Colt PLUS Program.
Students in the PLUS Program take all the same classes as CBA students without modifications, although certain accommodations may be implemented through a formal educational plan.
A student’s homework load is not decreased nor is the curriculum altered. Students take a portion of their English class during the school year and complete it during the following summer. This extended school year allows time for strategic instruction and support, including study, note-taking and test-taking skills.
“What we’ve noticed is that these students are truly capable of succeeding at CBA, but they just needed a different way of being taught,” Colannino said. “We want to bridge that gap in freshman and sophomore year. These students have then been able to be successful in junior and senior years with minimal support.”
Colannino joined the CBA faculty in 2018 as a learning support specialist, but as her students began to reap the benefits of additional instruction, her role at the Academy grew. With that growth, Colannino felt the need to name the program and came up with Colt PLUS, which stands for “Potential, Learning, Understanding and Support.”
She now teaches English I and II to freshmen and sophomores in the PLUS program, allowing for significantly more facetime with those students.
“Ms. Colannino has taught me great academic skills and important lessons that I will take with me through the rest of my life,” Hunter Kilpatrick ’25 said. “I cannot begin to explain how much she has helped and guided me throughout my high school career so far.”
Students – and their parents – quickly realized the importance of the Colt PLUS Program at CBA, both during the formative first years at the Academy as well as towards the backend when college is on the horizon.
“As parents of all boys, we felt strongly in sending them to CBA, a place where they could grow into men while working hard at their academics and in developing their faith more deeply,” said Bonnie Chase, a Class of 2025 parent. “Everyone learns and develops differently as we have seen with all our boys and the PLUS program has been a wonderful addition to CBA. It gives our son a high-quality education while teaching him life skills to grow into his best version of himself.”
New for 2023-24 is the multiple tracks within the Colt PLUS Program.
The St. Benilde program offers the most intense level of academic support for highly motivated students committed to learning in a college preparatory environment. This program is specifically for those students who struggle in literacy, but also offers a version with additional mathematics support.
The second new addition is the St. Miguel program, which is designed for students would benefit from the development of learning strategies. Note-taking skills, time management, organization, study skills and test-taking strategies are examples of the specific learning strategies that will be developed.
In both programs, students meet with a learning support specialist two days per week before school, as well as once per cycle during the school day.
“Mrs. Colannino is one of the most outgoing teachers I have had at CBA, and no matter what, she has gone out of her way to help each one of us,” Robert Johnson ’24 said. “She can see the potential you have and she will push it out of you until you realize that your own success.”
In addition to Colannino, the Academy has brought on four additional faculty members, both teachers and support specialists.
On campus, Henderson Hall has received a refresh for the program as well. One large classroom has been updated to become the Learning Support Center and two additional rooms are dedicated for Colt PLUS instruction in English and math. Students now have a comfortable, dedicated space to meet with the Colt PLUS faculty, further enhancing their experience in the program.
“By sending your son to CBA and enrolling in the PLUS program, we’re not lowering the standards. The cornerstone of the program is that by understanding and supporting these students, they are able to learn to the best of their ability.”