My Dear Sacred Heart Parents,
Thank you for a wonderful school year. Though I am sure our collective efforts have left us all in need of some rest, I did want to take some time to reflect with you and to look ahead as well.
The little things matter and they can direct us to larger things. From this year, I will remember the chimes and hymns played from the bell tower of our current Cathedral, but also the hum and hammering of new construction and the faith, hope, and love that support our new Cathedral. I will remember violin practice sheets, but also an entire orchestra that has learned to play together. I will remember children reading, but also parties for all the AR goals reached. And I will remember laughter and hard work at practice, but also personal growth, team success, and competing for championships in athletics.
We studied the theme of “sacred space” this year in a whole-school project-based learning exercise. (Please see: http://www.shcschool.org/
Our focus on standards-based instruction in math and on the importance of reading is bearing academic fruit. In the third quarter of the school year, our students nearly doubled their Accelerated Reader points from the second quarter as we incentivized reading and set personal goals for students. Renaissance Learning has recognized Sacred Heart as a National Honor Roll School for outstanding reading achievement. Fourteen-seventh graders qualified for the regional science fair at UT and five seventh graders received state recognition for their performance on the SAT or ACT as part of Duke TIP (Talent Identification Program). We have hit almost all the academic indicators for Blue Ribbon status as a school.
SHCS launched a 1:1 Google Chromebook program in Middle School this year and greatly enhanced the availability of computers throughout the school. We also have a designated, unique STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts, and math) Lab and continue to improve it and invest in it, while we make plans to make our library a Learning Commons. Robotics is now integrated throughout the school, and we will launch a Middle School competitive team this fall.
New courses have been offered this year as a way to deliver the mission of the school more fully: Robotics and Service Learning were new in the sixth-grade rotation; Yearbook, Wellness, and Catholic Leadership Seminar electives were new in seventh and eighth grades. In the arts, we added a play for elementary students, a dance program after school, pottery wheels, the second year of our Advent Arts Series, and the “Spring into the Arts” celebration in April.
Beyond these quantifiable accomplishments, we have really invested in relationships as a school this year. The school hosted several welcome events in the fall; we gathered for lots of morning coffees, and students wrote sweet notes of appreciation to parents, and parents to students. Approximately 130 volunteers contributed in so many ways this year. Finally, we celebrated the rich fabric of our community through events like Las Posadas in December, the Vietnamese Lion Dance in May, and a display that showed a variety of devotions to Mary.
We are on the precipice of some truly exciting things as a school. In March, our students will worship in a new Cathedral, a profoundly beautiful moment for our school and all of East Tennessee. In the fall of 2018, a new strategic plan for the school will be rolled out, after a school year of planning and conversation. You are with us at an amazing time, and I thank you for your trust and partnership.
I will be in touch with you this summer about staffing for next year, back-to-school events, and so much more. For now, please know that I am grateful for you and that I am praying for you and your family. Have a wonderful summer!