Kathleen Murphy Scholars

The Kathleen Murphy Scholars Program is designed to meet the needs of our highest performing students and to intellectually challenge them not only in the classroom but also through enrichment activities consistent with our mission. Our intention is to give the students in the Murphy Scholars Program the opportunity to enhance their education through a program with special enrichment experiences. Academically talented students in tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade pursue a rigorous course of study, participate in extracurricular activities, and satisfy their intellectual curiosity through cultural enrichment experiences.

The Kathleen Murphy Scholars Program honors Ms. Kathleen Murphy who served as principal of Totino-Grace High School from 1979 until 2001. During that time Ms. Murphy was instrumental in establishing an honors program for gifted students while also developing a program to offer special learning services to students most in need. Ms. Murphy worked closely with teachers to challenge them and affirm their work. She encouraged them in professional growth and worked hard to provide resources for them. This program honors Ms. Murphy for her creativity, love of literature and commitment to academic rigor.

Students in the Murphy Scholars Program will be asked to cover the cost of seminars if tickets must be purchased or entrance fees must be paid. Financial assistance is available for students who cannot afford these expenses.

Program Goals

  • To provide an environment, curriculum and the academic expectations that will encourage Scholars to fully develop their intellectual talents.
  • To provide additional opportunities for students to be challenged academically and to explore various areas of interest through outside seminars.
  • To assist the Scholars in pursuing a specific area of interest through an independent project, guided by a mentor teacher.
  • To provide additional guidance to Scholars as they choose their course of study and prepare for their post-high school endeavors.   

Program Requirements

  • Enroll in a minimum number of honors or AP level courses: 10th grade - two honors courses; 11th and 12th grade - three honors or AP courses.
  • Participate in a week-long summer seminar prior to sophomore year that emphasizes intellectual curiosity, academic planning, leadership training, faith development, cultural enrichment and service.
  • Participate in at least one extracurricular activity during the school year.
  • Participate in four cultural enrichment seminars during the school year.
  • Maintain a 3.8 cumulative GPA.
  • Attend one Capstone presentation done by a senior Scholar during sophomore or junior year.
  • Plan and execute a senior Capstone project designed by the Scholar in consultation with a mentor teacher and the Program Director. This will be done by taking a .5 credit Research Seminar course during semester 2 of junior year. (Students in the E3 program do not need to take this course. They will complete their Capstone in the Engineering 3 class during their senior year.)

Program Benefits

  • Additional intellectual challenges provided by field experiences not generally available to students
  • The support of a peer group committed to similar academic goals of personal excellence and intellectual growth
  • Mentorship support provided by a teacher who is chosen by the Scholar (in consultation with the Program Director) who will provide guidance and counsel to the Scholar for the senior project
  • Access to the Program Director who acts as an additional academic advisor while in the program
  • Summer enrichment opportunities
  • Designation as a Scholar at graduation commencement
  • Identification of the program and its requirements on all college applications

Application Process

Students who wish to apply must attend an information meeting, complete an application and obtain 3 TG Teacher Recommendations. Students who complete these requirements will be invited to an interview after Christmas Break.  

If a 9th grader is currently in less than 2 honors courses or does not have a 3.8 GPA, he or she may apply for the program and may be accepted on a contingency basis.  He or she must be at a 3.8 GPA by the end of 9th grade and be registered for at least 2 honors courses for sophomore year. If these requirements are not met, the student will not be accepted into the program.

2020 Murphy Scholars Capstone Projects

Jessica Anderson: How does media influence people's perception of crime?

Sophie Botzet: Why is homelessness considered a never-ending cycle? What are the main causes of homelessness in the United States and what are effective solutions to help terminate the never-ending cycle in the United States?

Abigail Embacher: Why is there a loss of diversity and population in bird species within the Americas? How does the loss of the birds affect the environment and its ecosystems? What is being done by researchers and average people to help limit the loss of bird species? 

Amara Gerlach: How Has Theater Technology Evolved Throughout the Years? 

Anna Kearney: What is the homeschooling movement and how does it compare to the public school system? 

Lauren Kuharski: What would be the effect of universal healthcare on lower income families versus higher income families?

Nicholas Melsha: What Demographics of People Are Most Susceptible to Depression

Emilie Meyer: What are the benefits and consequences of female middle school athletes participating in high school varsity sports?

Annie Mraz: What are the effects of stress on the human body?

Molly Setter: How are student accommodation and special education plans made in private and public schools, what are the differences, and how can the gaps be bridged?

Abigail Sommers: Research Question: How is sound produced in the human body? What is the most technically efficient way for a singer to produce sound? How should anyone, not just singers, maintain a healthy voice?

Grace Walz: How have artists’s lives impacted their artistic style? 

Sophia Whelan: Universal Basic Income: The Way to Make America Equal Again?