This past Sunday we entered into the holy season of Advent, the first season of the Catholic Liturgical Calendar. It is a time when we as a community of the faithful prepare our homes, places of worship and most especially ourselves for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus and ultimately the second coming of Christ at the end of time.
Two hundred years ago today, Emilie and Therese Pratte, along with their cousin Pelagie Chouteau, woke up in the Duquette Mansion having spent their first night as boarders at the newly established Sacred Heart school. Imagine the excitement around that breakfast table—the students beginning an adventure in the frontier town of Saint Charles and the Religious now having the much-needed boarding students. What a leap of faith it was for all parties involved!
On the second floor of the 1835 building there is a very special place. This room, with its wide plank floors and large fireplace, was the community room for the Religious of the Sacred Heart. For me, more than any other location on campus, this is where I feel the presence of Philippine. In this place, I envision Philippine sitting with her companions in the evenings—planning, praying, writing and, especially, reading letters sent from ‘home.’
In my office hangs a banner which I cherish. It has so many levels of significance to me. On the sentimental level, it hung in the office of my dear friend, a mentor-colleague who had served as Head of School when I was a Sacred Heart student. It also offers a daily reminder to me of the internationality of Sacred Heart education and the Society of the Sacred Heart…that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. On a personal level it reminds me of a meeting when I allowed my mind to wander into the image…and got caught!
Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year! The Academy has come back to life with the return of little feet, excited voices and smiling students. It is so good to welcome you home!
When I was a child, I loved the start of the school year. I loved all the school supplies (I still do), going to get uniforms and the excitement of being in a new grade level. As I grew older, back-to-school held the fun of reconnecting with friends, having a locker to decorate as my ‘home base’ and the start of my soccer season. When I was a teacher, back-to-school translated into reconnecting with colleagues, sharing stories of vacations and conferences, and the exchange of new ideas those professional development opportunities afforded.
The middle school years are a special time in the life of a child. It is a time in their development when they are old enough to enjoy some independence while at the same time they are still fully provided for and protected by their family. It is a critical developmental period when patterns of behavior are established and confirmed.
This afternoon I sat with Mrs. Renken and reviewed the academic activities of our students as we begin Trimester 3. Is it wrong for me to say I would love to be a student in the Second Class as they are currently learning about whales? Our students are engaging in a cross-curricular unit of study that includes reading, measurement, art, research and presentation skills. I am excited to visit the South Wing corridor when they outline the lengths of the various species of whales in order to visualize and gain a better understanding of the actual size of these massive sea creatures.
Last Friday morning, I was meeting with a Board Committee member (and parent of an alum) when the faintest hint of an alarm was heard. Tweaking my ears to hear exactly what it was (recognizing that I am still trying to attune myself to the sound of a tornado siren) I recognized it immediately; within a few seconds the sound was growing closer and stronger. It became clearer to me. I was hearing a whistle being sounded, and then kazoos, and then just plain old noise makers joined in this joyful chorus of disruption. This was the announcement of Congé!
Have you every heard the saying when the going gets tough, the tough get going? Recently I overheard this advice being shared by a Fourth Class student to his classmate. It got me thinking…how has this youngster come to understand that there is a value in sticking with something—to see a project through to completion.
The chance of snow, and dare I say the dream of a snow day, is not the only cause for excitement at the Academy. The students in our Second and Fourth Classes have participated in the international Hour of Code initiative. The program is designed to help expose students to computer science and coding. Our Sixth Class is going well beyond this as they are ‘building’ their own Space Invaders game. Don’t be mistaken, while it sounds like fun and literally games…real learning is occurring as our students learn computer programming including: sequencing, loops, iteration, functions, variables and list.