House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today announced he will host Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, as well as students, parents, and teachers associated with Washington’s inner-city Catholic schools through the Consortium of Catholic Academies in the House gallery for the State of the Union address.  Three of the four students attending the address are currently attending Catholic schools in the District through scholarships from the successful, bipartisan D.C. school choice program.  Tomorrow, Speaker Boehner and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will introduce legislation to reauthorize and save the program.

Attendees from the Consortium of Catholic Academies

 
John P. Kelly
is a first-year middle-school teacher at one of the Consortium of Catholic Academies.  He teaches sixth and seventh grade Social Studies and Religion.  He graduated from Marquette University in 2010 and is an Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) masters student at the University of Notre Dame.

Mary Joyner
is a sixth grade homeroom teacher at one of the Consortium of Catholic Academies.  She teaches middle-school Social Studies and Science and is the most senior member of her school’s teaching staff. 

Lisa Rowe
currently serves as one of the Consortium of Catholic Academies’ vice-principals.  She was the fourth grade teacher at St. Francis de Sales School prior to its conversion into a Center City Public Charter School.    

Michael Thomasian
is an eighth grade homeroom teacher at one of the Consortium of Catholic Academies.  He teaches middle-school Religion and serves as an assistant principal. 

Kennie May, Jr.
is in the eighth grade at one of the Consortium of Catholic Academies.  His strength as a school leader is reflected in his status of School Ambassador – a role that requires him to meet with school visitors and prospective families.  Kennie is interested in attending Gonzaga or Archbishop Carroll for high school.  Kennie’s father, Mr. Kennie May, will accompany him.   

Matthew Coleman
is an eighth grade Opportunity Scholarship student at one of the Consortium of Catholic Academies.  He is a member of the student choir and is an altar server at his church.  Next year, Matt would like to attend Bishop McNamara, Archbishop Carroll or Gonzaga for high school.  Matt’s mother, Mrs. Nicole Banks-Coleman, will accompany him.

Lesly Alvarez
is an eighth grade Opportunity Scholarship student at one of the Consortium of Catholic Academies.  She is a bilingual student and has been accepted to attend Archbishop Carroll High School.  In addition to her recent acceptance, Lesly was awarded the Principal’s Scholarship.  She is interested in studying business in college.  Lesly’s mother, Mrs. Eva Alvarez, will accompany her. 

Obiora “Obi” Mbanefo
is an eighth grade Opportunity Scholarship student attending one of the Consortium of Catholic Academies.   He excels in all subject areas and was recently awarded a full academic scholarship to an area private high school.  He is an altar server at his church.  Obi’s father, Mr. Victor Mbanefo, will accompany him.

Additional Guests


Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington.
  Cardinal Wuerl was installed in June 2006 as the sixth Archbishop of Washington.  He was elevated to the College of Cardinals at the November 20, 2010 Consistory by Pope Benedict XVI and given the Church of Saint Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli) as his titular church in Rome.

Virginia Walden Ford, DC Parents for School Choice.
  For several decades, Virginia has been an outspoken advocate for school choice.  She serves on the board of directors of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), and is the president of BAEO’s Washington, DC chapter.  Ford is also executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice.

John Schilling, American Federation for Children.
  John has long been a national advocate for school choice, especially in his former capacity as the head of the Alliance for School Choice.  He has worked closely with advocates in DC to continue and expand the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Andrew Campanella, American Federation for Children.
  Andrew has been instrumental in the communications and media strategy behind the students and parents affiliated with the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program.  He has served as director of communications at the Alliance for School Choice.

Jennifer Marshall, Heritage Foundation.
  As Director of Domestic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, Jennifer oversees research in education, marriage, family, religion, and civil society.  Jennifer is a long supporter of school choice and has written about the impact the scholarship program has had on student outcomes. 

Lindsey Burke, Heritage Foundation.
  Lindsey researches and writes on federal and state education issues as a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation.  She has spoken on education reform before audiences from Capitol Hill to school choice communities.