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Who are we?
Sacred Heart Academy is a Catholic school for young women, founded in the Franciscan tradition. Our 500 students come from 30 school districts, are graduates of more than 50 middle and elementary schools, and represent 13 faith traditions. In the Class of 2022, 40% of the students are from public schools, 13% have a sister who attends SHA, and 27% have a mother, sister or grandmother who is a SHA alumna. In addition, we have four German exchange students from Buffalo’s sister city, Dortmund. We embrace a philosophy of welcome and inclusion.
How does Sacred Heart perform academically?
Sacred Heart is ranked the #3 high school overall in Western New York (out of 134) by Business First. SHA also received recognition in all four subject areas: English, mathematics, social studies, and science, indicating that SHA ranked in the top 10% for each academic discipline. Our rigorous college preparatory curriculum includes 16 Advanced Placement and college courses, in addition to Regents and Honors classes. Eighty-three percent (83%) of the AP exams taken received a score of 3 or higher compared to a NYS average of 66%. In 2018, we had seven National AP Scholars (students who took eight or more AP courses and received 4 or higher on those exams- these students are in the top 1% in the nation). We offer four languages other than English: Chinese, Latin, French, and Spanish, and a wide range of electives in technology, music, art, and dance. Our already robust academic offerings are enhanced by our online partner, One Schoolhouse (formerly Online School for Girls) opening up another 10-15 advanced and AP courses for our girls. Our faculty and staff include four teachers with their doctorates, one nationally certified teacher, two lawyers, one engineer, one former Olympian, one visiting teacher from China, nine SHA alumnae, and five religious Sisters.
What is the academic profile of the Class of 2018?
The 124 members of the Class of 2018 were awarded more than $29 million in scholarships and awards to some of the top colleges and universities across the country. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of the class graduated with Advanced Designation Regents Diplomas. This is the highest Advanced Designation Regents Diploma rate in WNY. Additionally, in the Class of 2018, there are seven AP National Scholars, 12 AP Scholars, five AP Scholars with Honors, and 26 AP Scholars with Distinction. See Senior Class Profile for additional information and a listing of accepted colleges and universities.
The fastest growing careers are in STEM fields. How are you preparing girls for the future?
Grants from the Oishei Foundation and the Bauer Foundation have supported our unique, award-winning STEM Honors Cohort. Select students have the opportunity to graduate with five or more AP courses in math, science and computer science by accelerating their learning through summer classes. Rising seniors experience two weeks of career immersions in fields including public health, engineering, pharmacy, actuarial science, additive manufacturing, dentistry, and medicine. Additionally, 99% of all our girls take four or more years of high school/AP math and 85% take four or more years of high school/AP science. Thus, it should be no surprise that a full third of the Class of 2018 received a NYS Mastery Designation on their diploma in math and/or science. See STEM Honors Program supplement enclosed for more details.
My daughter may need some extra help to do well in high school. Is there a place for her at SHA?
At SHA, we embrace a growth mindset and welcome a broad range of academic students with the goal of helping them to achieve their full potential. With hard work and teacher support, a student will meet the academic rigor of our program and her goals. Extended Math (in Algebra, Geometry and Algebra II) and English Enrichment (in Literature Survey I and II) provide more instructional time for students to master material. Teachers are available after school for additional help. We also have peer tutors in writing and math as well as a literacy curriculum including the innovative Reading to the Dog high school program.
How does SHA incorporate technology in the classroom?
Our 1:1 iPad program supports technological literacy and active classroom learning. Whether it is a virtual dig in Ancient Greece, a walking tour of the Louvre, access to the Space Station or a video conference with students in China, our technology is bringing the world into our classrooms. In addition, each classroom is equipped with hardware and software to support state-of-the-art teaching and learning.
How do you balance class time with opportunities for learning outside of the classroom?
Our traditional, yet flexible, schedule and standard school year allow for 15-25% more instructional time than most models of block scheduling. We have six commonly used alternate schedules that allow us to invite speakers, have student-led assemblies, celebrate Mass, gather in community, and continue our learning outside of the classroom. From Career Day to our annual Day of SHAring, our school community embraces different opportunities to learn. We also use our school breaks for experiential travel and learning. Whether it is our juniors exploring our history and government in D.C. over February break or our girls traveling to Zambia over the summer and meeting with the U.S. Ambassador, many of our “teaching moments” happen outside of the classroom. In recent years, we have welcomed Erin Bagwell ’09, one of Oprah’s 100 Power Women, to share her documentary film, Dream, Girl; Katlyn Grasso, CEO of GenHERation, to share her passion for increasing women’s representation in Fortune 500 companies; Sophia Veffer, a Holocaust survivor, to educate our community on the UpStander Movement; Dr. Laurie Hess Sperry ’82 , a professor at Yale University, an expert in autism, and founder of a school in India for autistic children; as well as Leslie King ’72 former FBI agent and State Department Anti-Terrorism Specialist.
What recent capital improvements have been made to your historic building?
SHA’s physical structure is the best of both worlds. Respectful of our 2014 historic designation, our building renovations include a fresh, welcoming look and upgrade to our dining hall, food preparation and service areas; the Collaboratory, a state-of-the-art computer and engineering lab; and our SHA History Museum to honor the Sisters of St. Francis and to commemorate SHA’s 140th anniversary. In addition, we opened our Athletic Center in 2014 which features a gymnasium, fitness center, dance studio, school store and locker rooms. In 2015, we unveiled our student art gallery and bridge to the new Athletic Center.
How does SHA meet the wellness needs of students?
Your daughter’s health and wellness is important to us. We nourish her spirit, mind and body and help her to cultivate lifelong healthful habits. From nutritious meal choices in our dining hall to units in healthy relationships (in its 7th year) and mindfulness (in its 4th year), we nurture your daughter’s well-being. Our wellness team includes three full-time school counselors, a part-time mental health counselor, and the school nurse. In addition to our athletic teams, we offer strength training, yoga, Couch to 5K, volleyball and badminton clubs. Clubs like Be-YOU-tiful and SHARK that promote self-love and random acts of kindness help to set a culture of confidence and healthy balance. SHA girls support one another and work collaboratively in the classroom, on the field and on stage.
How do you provide students with the tools to lead?
At SHA, every student council officer, sports team captain, retreat team leader and club president is a girl. Role models abound. Our well-established four-year leadership curriculum gives SHA students the knowledge and skills necessary to be a competent and ethical leader, ready to make her mark on her community and her world. Our Leadership Program helps girls hone core competencies through classroom learning, oral presentations, interviews, and senior projects. Leadership skills are also developed through our Footprints Service Program which allows girls to use their unique gifts to make our community better. Last year, SHA girls completed over 22,000 hours of service. New this year, girls will have the opportunity to showcase their leadership skills in the world of business through our M&T Women in Leadership and Business Program.
What opportunities do you provide in the arts for your students?
Our girls can choose among electives in art, music, dance, and theatre. SHA’s Music Department enters the following (for chorus, band, and orchestra): ECMEA (All County) and NYSSMA (All State) and NAFME (All Eastern), and each year SHA students are selected to perform as members of the ECMEA All County and NYSSMA Area All State ensembles. Orchestra earned gold at NYSSMA Majors Festival and our ensembles all earned top three finishes at Darien Lake Music Festival. SHA’s select choir, Chamber Singers, goes on tour annually. Additionally, each year SHA produces a fall musical and a spring drama and holds a Coffee House performance night. We also take a group to NYSTEA each year for its three-day theatre workshop led by Broadway professionals. Our art students submit work to local shows as well as art contests and display their work in our beautiful Student Gallery.
How can my daughter participate in a sport?
SHA maintains a high-quality Athletic Department with competitive sports teams, and a physical education program designed to promote personal fitness and wellness. Fourteen sports are offered at the interscholastic level along with two club sports. In 2017-18, SHA won the Monsignor Martin Championship in swimming, golf, and tennis, and playoff championships in lacrosse and bowling. In addition, the Varsity Basketball team won the CCHSA Class A Championship. Student athletes went to state competitions in basketball, swimming, golf, and track and field.
What clubs are offered after school?
We offer more than 25 academic, social, athletic and service clubs including: Science Olympiad, Quiz Bowl, Mathletes, Mock Trial, Rocketry, Glee, Sign Language, Diversity, Coding, DIY, Sharks Bite Cancer, Donate Life, Ukulele, Couch to 5K Club and Ski Club (sponsored by St. Joe’s), to name a few. New clubs are regularly initiated by students as they explore their interests and develop their leadership skills.