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High school students have thousands of choices when it comes to attending college. Sometimes the decision can be very daunting. Ville de Marie Academy Headmaster Dan Ethridge is trying to do his part for those students in his care to help guide them to a Catholic college that has similar values as those taught at his school, with seven currently studying at Christendom.

Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, Ville de Marie was founded in 1991, “to offer an integrated K-12 curriculum in the classical liberal arts that would combine academic excellence and a vibrant spiritual life in an atmosphere conducive to the formation of the whole child – a place where the faith would inform and guide the entire life of the school.”

When Ethridge learned of Christendom College, and found out the similarities in vision, mission, and intended outcomes for its students, he was hooked, and began sending his own children to the college, beginning with Hannah in the fall of 2010. Since then, he has sent some of his other children, and alumni of Ville de Marie, including Abigail (’17), Meredith (’21), and Peter (’24).

“To me, Christendom is another form of Ville De Marie, and that’s really an additional reason I love it so much,” says freshman Peter Ethridge. “For me, I feel like high school really prepared me for the real world, and Christendom is just furthering that even more.  I have been truly blessed to be able to go to such a strong and boldly Catholic high school, and that I could cultivate the intellect and will of my soul in order to do well at this magnificent college.”

But Headmaster Ethridge did not stop with his own children. He began to encourage others at his school to consider Christendom College and ensured that members of the school’s junior class attended the Best Week Ever high school summer program each summer to get a taste of life at the college. Through his encouragement, and their experiences at the summer program, more students ultimately enroll at Christendom each academic year.

“Mr. Ethridge encouraged all the students to attend the summer program, which was when I first visited the campus,” says Ville de Marie alumna and freshman Lili Speier. “Christendom stood out to me among the other Catholic liberal arts colleges because of its aim to educate and form young people to restore the culture. The entire college is centered around Christ and the joy of the Christian life seeps into every aspect of your time on campus.”

Speier, who is one of Christendom’s two Thomas S. Vander Woude Memorial Scholarship honorees for the Class of 2024 and the daughter of two University of Dallas alumni, attended Ville de Marie from Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade. Over the course of those many years, she became not only used to the school’s integrated Catholic liberal arts curriculum, but also the school’s vibrant Catholic community life. Rather than lose out on both by attending a secular college, she sought out a school that would help her continue to grow both in and outside the classroom.

Junior Julia Eschbach, like Speier, wanted to find another community like Ville de Marie’s upon graduation but did not think it was possible — until she was encouraged to look at Christendom by Dan Ethridge and his daughter, Hannah, who now teaches at the academy.

“I had first heard of Christendom from Hannah Ethridge, my wonderful volleyball coach at Ville de Marie, and an example of a truly authentic woman after God’s own heart,” says Eschbach. “She further inspired me to find a college that would encourage and help me to grow into the person I was made to be. She and her father, Mr. Daniel Ethridge advocated Christendom’s Catholic community, where I would find friends grounded in Christ to support me on my journey, and a rich culture that couldn’t help but set the community on fire for Christ.”

They, along with five other Ville de Marie alumni, are now studying at Christendom, with even more on the way this coming academic year. Each is thriving in a community similar to what they experienced back in Arizona, giving them the opportunity to spend their most formative years in an environment that will help the learn the Truth, live the Faith, and thrive as Catholics after graduation.

For more information on applying to the (nearly full) 2021 Best Week Ever, please visit here.

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