Preston High School celebrates 150 years of Divine Compassion spread throughout NYC and beyond

Students in Preston High School's Compassion Connection outreach program bag food to give to those in need.
Photos courtesy of Sister Carol Wagner

Teaching the Catholic doctrine of Divine Compassion to the students of Preston High School has transformed Bronx girls into women who made the world a better place over the past 73 years.

That’s the mission of the longstanding all-girls academy in Throggs Neck, which aims to bring students to their pinnacles of success while also showing the world in a much more empathetic lens than the average school.

“[It is] a community where diversity is celebrated and students are engaged by teachers and guidance counselors in learning skills that develop each person’s capacity to listen deeply, engage in critical thinking and difficult or conflictual conversations, to resolve issues together with win win solutions,” said Sister Carol Wagner, director of counseling services for Preston.

While the school celebrates the 150 years of the Sisters of the Divine Compassion — the Catholic congregation that started the school back in 1947 — it is Preston’s comparatively recent initiatives which have left a compassionate mark on many of the girls who have walked through their doors.

The epitome of that is Preston’s Compassion Connection, a student outreach program which services “all sectors of our Bronx community, reaching out to all people in need.” The program recently held a food drive that distributed over five tons of non-perishable items to parishes, families and many more in need around the borough.

A Preston food drive from 2019.

“Students feel Preston is their second home, where they learn and grow in an atmosphere of compassion, becoming empowered as young women to be leaders in their personal and professional lives and in their communities here in the Bronx locally and globally,” Wagner said. 

In terms of academics, Wagner told that the school’s STEM programs are funded by Women In Engineering, a global leader devoted to advancing the scientific interests of women and students in over 100 countries, adding that arts and humanities programs have also propelled alumni into phenomenal careers.

Sister Wagner explained that Preston graduates have taken major roles as senior vice presidents in the healthcare industry and also in legal firms, many of which “represent and empower women, people of color and low-income residents in justice and other legal issues.”

Other graduates have established careers in counseling and prevention programs as well as becoming spiritual and religious leaders in Catholicism, she added.

“The Preston High School graduate is open-minded, self-aware and respectful of differences among people,” Wagner said. “She appreciates the richness to be found in different cultures and is able to discern common values among different religious traditions. She sees in nature the imprint of the Creator of the Universe and dedicates herself to respecting it and helping others to do likewise.”

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