WORKING TOGETHER—From left: Katie R. Jacobs attorney at law, legal intern Lakin Donald and senior Paralegal Julie Cocchiola are hard at work. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

WORKING TOGETHER—From left: Katie R. Jacobs attorney at law, legal intern Lakin Donald and senior Paralegal Julie Cocchiola are hard at work. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

Holy Family Academy, the new independent Catholic secondary school started by the Emsworth institute that has served the Pittsburgh area for more than 150 years, calls itself, “the school that builds.”

And it means that, both figuratively and literally.

Not only do its students—the majority of which are low- to moderate-income African Americans—build their futures through internships at local corporations, trade organizations, and nonprofits, they build their own desks. It is a labor born of necessity, said Sister Linda Yankoski, but one that has become emblematic of the school’s focus: a free Catholic education focused on a post-secondary pathway.

“When we started the school two years ago, we didn’t have a lot of the basics, including desks. So, with supervision from our partners at the Carpenters Union Center, we built them. I did too,” said Sister Yankoski.

“I’ll never forget, I was working next to this one student and he looked at me and said, ‘You mean I could get paid for doing this? This is the best day ever.”‘

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