What safety protocols are in place at Divine Mercy Catholic Academy (DMCA)?
DMCA has established multiple layers to keep our students and staff safe. In response to current circumstances, DMCA has established a pandemic mitigation team that is led by a certified health professional. This team meets weekly to review data and make corresponding recommendations. The PA Department of Health recommendations form the basis of our daily operating structure.
Both our campuses have a full array of security devices and regularly practiced safety drills. In addition, students receive instruction through a nationally recognized curriculum (BOTVIN) that focuses on “making good decisions” (anti-bullying, anti-drug) in addition to the lessons learned in our religion classes. Students also have access to the Safe to Say program as required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Is DMCA’s educational experience competitive with what public schools and other private schools in the area offer?
Yes. Accredited through the Middle States Education Association, we offer an academic program that is rigorous and aimed at supporting the formation of the whole child – spiritually, intellectually, socially and emotionally. Our graduates advance to both public and Catholic high schools in the region and are often accepted into advanced academic programs.
Do you offer financial assistance?
Yes. We offer financial assistance through the Diocese of Altoona- Johnstown. Financial aid is available to all qualified students whose parents might not otherwise be able to pay the full cost of tuition. Although Pre-Kindergarten students are not eligible for financial assistance through the Diocesan program, alternate funding may be available through our school and parishes that help support us.
Are your teachers certified?
All members of our faculty are certified teachers, meeting the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania certification requirements.
Do you offer STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) opportunities throughout the school?
Yes, STEM at DMCA incorporates Religion and Art and is referred to as STREAM. It is introduced in Pre-Kindergarten and is integrated throughout our curriculum.
What special programs do you offer for 5th and 6th grade students as they prepare for middle and high school?
DMCA offers students ongoing opportunities to serve as leaders within our school community. Departmentalized so that each faculty member teaches within his or her area of expertise, our school prepares students for the transition to junior high school by fostering independence and responsibility.
In addition to offering Spanish and Singapore Mathematics (which includes Algebra) for those who qualify, all 5th and 6th grade students take programming as part of their computer curriculum and have the use of their own Chromebooks through our one-to-one device program. Students can also elect to participate in First Lego Robotics Club after school. Our teachers integrate the use of Smart Boards, Google Chromebooks, and Google Expeditions to enhance classroom learning. DMCA also offers a wide range of extracurricular activities that enrich the school experience from National Junior Honor Society to CYO Sports, First Lego Robotics Club, Yearbook and Student Council. The nurturing environment and leadership opportunities are key elements of a quality school program that complements and builds upon the foundation established through the early elementary years.
How does DMCA evaluate student progress?
DMCA prioritizes student growth and uses nationally recognized assessment tools (DIBELS, STAR) to measure progress. Annual growth goals are established for each student and are continuously monitored through a series of teacher reviews and parent conferences. In addition, classroom grades can be accessed on demand through Power School. High standards and expectations at a developmentally appropriate level reinforced by a variety of support systems allow all students to reach for their potential.
Does DMCA have a Pre-Kindergarten program?
Yes. We offer full-day PreK programs at both our East and West campuses. Families can choose 2 or 5 days for our 3 year-old program or 3 or 5 days for our 4 year-old program. Our PreK goal is to provide a safe and secure “home away from home” as our early learners experience a wider world. Socialization and free play is very important. Children meet new friends and become familiar with adults other than their parents. It is a friendly, faith-filled atmosphere. Our teachers are certified in Early Childhood Education and chosen specifically for their abilities to interact with our youngest students. Our PreK curriculum is tailored to enhance:
- Christian values
- Reading readiness / Language skills
- Early math skills
- Personal and social awareness
- Phonemic awareness
- Science and social studies concepts
- Gross and fine motor skills
- Fine arts, computer, library
Does Divine Mercy have full-day Kindergarten?
Yes. Academic and spiritual development depends on strong, solid foundations, and that is just what our full-day Kindergarten program provides. Our literacy-based Kindergarten curriculum features:
- Interactive science and social studies activities
- Weekly hands-on STREAM activities focused on age-appropriate technology and engineering, including regular visits by the Saint Francis University Sustainability Lab team
- Basic math skills
- Christian values modeled throughout each experience
- Physical education, art, music, library
- Character-building activities woven in with all academics
- Safe, secure learning environment
- Building upon the Pre-K curriculum to establish a structured platform for life-long learning
Our PA-certified Kindergarten teachers are supported by classroom aides, as well as approved volunteers who participate in local Foster Grandparent programs.
Does DMCA provide support services?
Yes. Our full-time health coordinator, a registered nurse, oversees all health-related matters, including distribution of any medications a child may take, and serves as our COVID-19 coordinator. In addition, working in partnership with Pennsylvania’s Intermediate Unit 8 (IU08), our students have regular access to speech and language therapy, and counseling services.
Academically, through our Academic Course Enhancement (ACE) program, students who are performing above grade level can take advantage of specialized enrichment programs to support their growth goals. Similarly, students who may need extra support meet regularly with our specialists to help them strengthen their literacy, math and comprehension skills.
What kind of extracurricular programs are available to my child?
We offer an array of programs, beginning as early as Kindergarten. These include school-sponsored and independent athletic opportunities, student council, First Lego League, forensics, reading competition, chorus, band, cheerleading, football, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, eSports and more.
Are students encouraged to give back to the community?
Yes. Beginning as early as Kindergarten, our students are involved in service and community-building. For example, they regularly attend Mass, raise funds for worthy community projects through Dress Down Days and other events, and collect holiday gifts for those in need. Students can also serve on our Student Council. Each year, our 6th graders are inducted into the Saint Vincent DePaul Youth conference and take the lead on several community service projects. In recent years, this has included monthly food distribution to those in need and the creation of dozens of blankets for area children.
How old does a child have to be to attend DMCA?
The state of Pennsylvania uses your child’s age as of September 1st as their basis for determining when a student can enroll in Kindergarten. Consequently, if your child turns 5 on or before September 1st they are eligible to enroll in Kindergarten. The same date is also used in Pre-Kindergarten: if your child turns 3 on or before September 1st they are eligible to enroll in 3-year-old PreK. If they turn 4 on or before September 1st they are eligible to enroll in 4-year-old PreK.
How many students does DMCA enroll?
Enrollment varies from year to year, but there are approximately 350 students enrolled in PreK through Grade 6.
What is DMCA’s average class size?
Class size varies based on enrollment in each grade, but the average class size is approximately 15 students per class.
How much does it cost to attend DMCA?
Tuition rates differ according to various factors such as grade level, number of students enrolled, financial need and if your family is Catholic. Please click here for more information on tuition, admission processes and financial aid information.
Is DMCA worth the investment?
The Divine Mercy Catholic Academy experience cannot be defined through a single lens The Johnstown-area parochial education system has a long tradition of successful academic and extracurricular student achievement. Student engagement, unique experiences, appropriate expectations, strong support, university partnership, faith, and family differentiate DMCA from other opportunities in the region. Graduates are able to meet and exceed expectations as they continue their educational endeavors. Our alumni and their families become a vital part of an unparalleled support network that grows into a lifelong resource.
Does my family need to be Catholic to attend DMCA?
All are welcome! While the Catholic faith is an integral part of school life, our students represent a number of faith communities from across the region.
What time do classes start and end?
The school day for all students begins at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m.
Does DMCA provide bus transportation?
Bus transportation to and from Divine Mercy Catholic Academy campuses for K-6 students is provided by your local public school district. Any district within 10 miles of the campus of your choice is required to provide transportation. Please call our school office or your school district’s transportation coordinator for details.
Do the children wear uniforms?
Yes, all children in grades K-6 wear uniforms. Uniform requirements vary by grade level and there are different options for boys and girls. Detailed uniform policies can be found by clicking here. Our PreK students do not wear uniforms. Our youngest learners typically wear clothing that is most comfortable for them. However, for safety purposes, we ask families to refrain from sending their PreK children to school in sandals, flip-flops or open-toed shoes.
Does DMCA provide after school care?
Yes. The Learning Lamp provides after school care at the West Campus for DMCA students. This is available for PK-6 students until 6 p.m. Contact the Learning Lamp for details and costs.
Can I visit the school?
Yes, we are glad to conduct tours of our school for new and prospective families. Please contact us at 814.961.3622 for more information or to schedule a school tour.
How can I learn more about DMCA and the programs offered?
Please register to attend an Open House or contact us at 814-961-DMCA (3622) or via e-mail at [email protected].