Our annual observance of Catholic Schools Week begins on Sunday, January 31, 2016 and concludes on Saturday, February 6, 2016. Many students look forward to this week each year because it includes enjoyable events and special treats. But it’s also a time for us to celebrate the enduring value of Catholic education and to focus on the gift that it provides to America’s young people. During Catholic Schools Week, we reach out to the community to build awareness of what our school offers. We also like to thank all those who work very hard to make our school excellent: students, families, faculty, staff, volunteers, community supporters, and local and national leaders.
This year’s theme is the same as last year: “Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” The 2016 theme supports the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools. As a school-wide community project, we are conducting a food drive on Friday, February 5, 2016 and grade level prayer partners will be getting together at various times during the week for other community projects.
Every year I like to use this time to reflect on what we have accomplished in the past 12 months, a “State of the School” statement if you will.
In the fall we administered our standardized testing and our students did extremely well. Our test results made us eligible to apply for the National Blue Ribbon. Our students in grades 3-8 scored in the top 15% of the nation’s students in reading and math. This has been our goal for the last 5 years and we have worked diligently to get there. Now we have to wait to see if we are chosen from among the other outstanding schools who applied. Only 50 private schools are chosen each year, so in addition to our test scores, the rest of our programs have to be better than the others that qualified.
Last summer as part of the security upgrade, we installed a new phone system. Each room now has the ability to make and receive calls from room to room and to the front office. Soon, a new intercom system will be added to this system so any teacher can make an all-call in case of an emergency.
We continued technology integration and upgrades. We were able to purchase 62 new tablets which are deployed on 2 rolling carts for use by every class. We also created a technology team with a technology coach to help classroom teachers find new apps and help them learn how to use and deploy them in the classroom.
Over the Christmas break, the lower school bathrooms were renovated, and they are outstanding. Additionally, the skylights in the roof were “recaptured.” For years the skylights were hiding in the drop ceiling and we were not able to see them, but now you can.
Looking forward to April, a huge new playground will be installed. The old playground was taken down last summer due to safety concerns and insurance liability. The new one was purchased for half-price because we bought it in the “off” season. The school saved $35,000 by waiting those few months.
Another exciting project is our solar array to replace all the energy requirements of the entire campus. This project has had a lot of “hurdles” to overcome and we are still working on getting over a few more, but the project is moving forward. If all goes right, the project will begin this summer.
I am very proud of our accomplishments, but even more excited about the future plans. The school is in good financial condition and I invite you to check our reviews on our webpage. Thank you for the opportunity to continue to lead the Storm.