“My life was definitely changed for the better because of attending Sacred Heart.”
“I will miss everyone and everything here more than anyone can imagine.”
“Starting the morning by going to Mass makes the rest of the day feel better.”
“I really feel like my relationship with Jesus has been strengthened here.”
These are quotes from letters that I asked our graduating class of 2018 to write regarding their experiences at Sacred Heart. I hope they offer perspective into the student experience at Sacred Heart.
This has been a fantastic school year! Please take a few minutes to read some of our accomplishments during the 2017-18 school year.
The opening of our beloved Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus has been a huge boost for our school and a beautiful opportunity to evangelize and catechize our students. Our two years of project-based learning experiences studying construction and engineering (year one) and sacred space (year two) have helped our children to have more ownership and understanding of our Cathedral.
On that note, collectively we should feel great about how we handled the logistics of construction and how we all maintained the safety of the whole community. Thank you! In addition, improvements to safety and security this year include 15 new walkie-talkies, additional safety drills and police training for our faculty, and an increased number of high-quality cameras on campus.
Our students have done thousands of hours of community service outside of school time and many hours during school as well. Our eighth grade alone performed over 1000 hours! This year, we supported causes including Catholic Charities, Samaritan Place, the Under the Bridge Ministry, KARM and Second Harvest Food Bank, to which we donated 120 turkeys at Thanksgiving! Over 100 students participated in Kids Walk this spring. Hundreds of children received merit slips for putting virtues into action, including love, fortitude, knowledge, joy, respect, and faith. In a very grace-filled year, 212 children were prepared as part of their daily learning to receive the Sacraments of First Holy Communion or Confirmation in our new Cathedral!
We continue to advance as an institution. This is a core value that I hold dear. We started a leadership team approach this year that includes Deans of Students to work with children in elementary and middle school. Our teachers collaborated to create a Definition of Excellent Teaching for our school, and we also spent time discerning the SHCS charism (a special gift of the Holy Spirit). School Board worked hard on our next strategic plan, which we now have in outline form. A core element of the plan is the hundreds of stakeholder surveys that informed the planning. In those surveys, 97 percent of parents surveyed said that they “agreed or strongly agreed” that SHCS was fulfilling its mission! You will hear more about our institutional progress as we approach the 2018-19 school year.
We end the school year with 502 students in grades K-8, having added 15 new students over the course of the school year — a remarkable number. A full 96 percent of our current students will return to Sacred Heart in the fall, and we will welcome many new Eagles as well. Thanks to your support, we had an enormously successful year with our Annual Fund (which continues through June 30) and Auction. Thank you!
I love the trajectory of our academic program. Students are really developing the habit of reading, and hundreds of students reached their AR goals this spring with the encouragement of incentives such as a school-day trip to the movie A Wrinkle in Time! The Superkids reading program in kindergarten and first grade has made a positive impact, and it will move to second grade next year. Our librarians, who led the charge for reading incentives, started a competitive robotics team for middle school this year, and have really helped the school create a national footprint. Our library was just named one of “50 libraries to follow on Instagram” by the Book Riot website, and our library just hosted Google representatives who introduced us to “augmented reality” technology for enhanced learning!
In the fall, Duke TIP recognized 109 students in grades 4-8 for excellent results on standardized testing, and that trend continues: Our eighth graders had a composite score (reading, math, science and social studies) in the 97th percentile out of 200,000 schools that participate in IOWA testing. The school as a whole hit 11 of 13 markers for Blue Ribbon qualification. We are making great strides! You should be receiving your children’s individual IOWA results shortly, and the school summary is now available on our website under the “academics” tab. Our experiential trips to Wesley Woods (third), Space Camp (fifth), and Camp Greenville (seventh) continue to be huge hits, and our eighth graders took their trip to a new location this year, Washington, DC. One of the highlights of that trip is a visit to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
We have some innovative STREAM (science, tech, religion, arts, and math) projects already happening here! With your support and support from grandparents and friends of SHCS, we are now able to invest in our STREAM lab this summer. A great example of a STREAM project took place this spring in third grade, when children got to see baby chicks hatch in an incubator. They were fully engaged as they learned about God’s creation from multiple perspectives. Six seventh graders were also recognized for outstanding projects at the science and engineering fair at the University of Tennessee in March!
SHCS is working continually to enrich the student experience. This year, we added flexible seating options to many elementary classrooms, started gender-separate mentorship groups in middle school, added picnic tables for lunch and for an outdoor learning space, and celebrated eighth graders with an “8th on the 8th” monthly celebration. We will unveil more additions at the start of school. I am excited that, through a joint effort of the Home and School Association and School Board, we will launch a parent-led parent support program called “Raising Great Kids” this fall.
In the arts, Sacred Heart students continued to produce beautiful artwork that adorned the school, and we had two fabulous musical programs. The orchestra program — 35 students strong — had its premier concert this spring, and our drama program, through our partnership with River and Rail Theatre Company, put on two outstanding performances this year, A Wrinkle in Time and The Secret Garden.
Our athletics program, featuring 26 teams in 13 different sports, brought home a KISL championship in varsity boys basketball! Girls volleyball, girls soccer, and our swim team were all in the hunt for championships as well. Iron Eagle awards were presented to a record 36 students this year. We have so many accomplished athletes, including a three-time elementary state cross-country champion and the second-place finisher in the boys state golf tournament.
We are blessed with your trust and support for Sacred Heart Cathedral School. I am very grateful for your partnership and look forward to working with you to help children grow in knowledge and love of the Lord! Have a wonderful summer.
Daniel Breen, Principal