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South Coast Catholic schools launch preparatory program

Two small Catholic high schools in Fall River and Taunton have teamed up to form a new prep school program focused on STEM education at each campus, school officials say.

The Preparatory Academy at Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River and Coyle & Cassidy High School in Taunton will provide “an improved curriculum to students,” a statement Friday from the office of the schools superintendent for the Diocese of Fall River said.

The diocese’s Central Catholic Schools Board approved the new academy Thursday. The aim is to “implement a personalized learning model that addresses the needs of diverse student populations,” according to the superintendent’s office.

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Coyle & Cassidy, a school for grades six through 12, had 386 students enrolled in 2018, according to state education data.

Bishop Connolly, which does not have a middle school program, had 249 students enrolled last year, the data show.

The new program, Schools Superintendent Steve Perla said, will allow both schools “to maintain their individual identity while working together in important ways, providing families living along the Route 24 corridor with an exceptional school choice.”

The academy will include a STEM education program that will bolster research skills, something the superintendent’s office called “an underserved educational focus in Southeastern Massachusetts.”

“The introduction of STEM education environments into our Diocese, which is happening in Catholic schools across the country, means providing the knowledge and skill set for our graduates to change the world for the better by helping to solve many of the problems facing our world,” Fall River Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha said in a statement.

Roger Sullivan, the schools board president, said the new academy will improve the experience at both schools and will include the “sharing of talent, building professional learning communities, and joining forces to create robust co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities for students.”

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Danny McDonald can be reached at Daniel.McDonald @globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @danny_mcdonald.