Noticias de la Diócesis de Allentown

Kolbe Academy Celebrates First Graduating Class

Kolbe Academy marked a momentous occasion in July as Joel Maldonado and Trent Walker, the school’s first graduating class, received their diplomas as part of a Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement Ceremony.

The ceremony was attended by the families of both graduates; school faculty and board members; Dr. Brooke Tesché, Chancellor of Catholic Education; and Bishop Alfred Schlert.

"This was certainly an exciting day for our entire school community. To see our first two graduates accept their diplomas was a highlight to this amazing journey of opening our school," said John Petruzzelli, Principal.

The school opened its doors one year ago as the first faith-based recovery high school in the nation, serving high school students in recovery from drug and alcohol addictions. "Despite bumps in the road, a pandemic, and battling isolation, our graduates worked to overcome every obstacle they encountered to reach this milestone day,” Petruzzelli said.

Maldonado has been accepted into East Stroudsburg University, while Walker is paving a new way for Kolbe graduates to join the workforce by inaugurating a new Careers Awareness Program being implemented by the school.

“Everyone’s been reflecting on the first year of Kolbe Academy. It was very exciting and then COVID-19 hit,” noted Dr. Tesché. “We had a choice on how we were going to respond. So we paused, we pivoted, we persevered, and we continued to pray.

“Providentially, the first year of Kolbe Academy is very much like the first year of recovery because it’s amazing at first -- being clean and sober and getting this clarity, you get a sense of peace of freedom. Everything is going really well and then life and challenges hit. Like Kolbe, young people in recovery have to pause, pivot, persevere, and pray.”

“This is a tremendous moment in history,” stated Bishop Schlert as he congratulated the graduates and their families. “This whole beautiful undertaking at Kolbe Academy has been inspired by the Holy Spirit. Trent and Joel, you’re pioneers that blaze the trail for those who come after you. I want to thank you, and thank your parents and families for trusting your loved ones to us.”

“Our Catholic belief in the dignity of every human person,” Bishop Schlert said, “is why Kolbe Academy exists, to nurture the dignity of the human person created in God’s image and likeness.”

"I am overwhelmed with the goodness of God to see our first graduates achieve this goal in their lives,” said Petruzzelli. “With their focus, drive and determination, there will be many more successes they will celebrate. Kolbe Academy is very proud of these two graduates as they continue to live out the Kolbe motto: Recover, Succeed, Transform.”

Kolbe Academy is part of the Diocese of Allentown Catholic School System and serves students of all faiths. It is named after St. Maximilian Kolbe who is recognized as the patron saint of those who battle addictions.

For more information about Kolbe Academy, call 610-419-3333, email, or visit

Photo Caption: Joel Maldonado (left) and Trent Walker process in to their graduation ceremony.