PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Students from 17 high schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia have earned a record-breaking amount of college scholarships this year.

Michael Fitzgerald, auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia, calls the Archdiocesan Class of 2011 a very special group of young men and women:

“You’ll know more and more throughout life that you’ve been given a precious gift in receiving a Catholic education,” he told them today.  “So I will remind you to thank those in your life who invested in you.  Thank them for the sacrifices they made to give you such a gift.”

During today’s program, each student carried a building block showing the total amount of college scholarships earned by students at his or her school school.  When all 17 puzzle pieces were piled together, it revealed the grand total: more than $270 million.

For example, the 213 seniors at Sts. John Neumann and Maria Gorretti High School, in South Philadelphia, earned $9 million in college scholarships. Senior Stephanie Kelly says applying for college was very, very tough.

“Thankfully all of my grades and extracurricular activities paid off,” she tells KYW Newsradio.   “Hopefully it won’t be that hard for my mom to pay off college.  I’m going to be attending the University of Pennsylvania for nursing.”

Nearly half of the more than 4,200 members of the archdiocesan class of 2011 received at least one college scholarship.   Ninety-four percent will pursue a post-secondary education.

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060

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