Merion Mercy Unveils its Diploma with Distinction Signature Program

In developing its 2022-2027 strategic plan, Boundless Mercy, Infinite Possibilities, Merion Mercy Academy established strategic priorities in five areas to move the school along a continued path of excellence, innovation, and vitality. The first pillar in the plan is Academic Excellence and Transformative Learning, and the first strategy within that pillar is: “Launch signature programming such as specialized major tracks, senior capstone projects, and internships that encourage students to delve deeply into their learning.” Head of School Marianne Grace is pleased to announced that in fall 2023, Merion Mercy will launch its first signature planning initiative: The Merion Mercy Diploma with Distinction.

The Diploma with Distinction program encourages students to build confidence by scaffolding and coordinating the skills they develop in core courses (e.g., writing, speaking, organization, analysis) into specific, interdisciplinary concentrations. These concentrations bridge classroom learning with authentic, purposeful actions within Merion and as part of our larger (Mercy, Philadelphia, global) community. 

Students are given flexibility and choices to follow their passions while requiring them to relate their projects to the mission of the school: living mercy and seeking justice as young people who create change in our school and the world.   

Leading the efforts behind the program is Philip Vinogradov, MMA’s Director of Innovation, Teaching and Learning. He explains how the elective program will work for rising juniors and seniors next fall: 

“To pursue a Diploma with Distinction, students will first choose a concentration: Sustainability, Leadership and Communication, Law and Justice, or Arts and Culture. They will then complete program requirements, which include a selection of specific courses, co-curricular activities, service requirements, and a capstone project or internship, followed by participation in a symposium.”

An outcome of the Mercy in Action Diploma with Distinction will be the curation of a digital portfolio (Google Site) with exemplar pieces of work or evidence for each requirement, and a reflection on how that piece of work or experience exemplifies one or more of the Mercy core values: Educational Courage, Principled Leadership, Compelled by Mercy, Inspired by Faith, and A Voice for Dignity and Respect.

“We are really excited about this signature program,” says Vinogradov, who led a team of faculty from all content areas through a seven month research and design process. “It builds upon Merion Mercy’s value proposition, puts mission in action, and delivers lasting student impact. We look forward to kicking it off with the Classes of 2024 and 2025 next year.” 

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