We have had a wonderful first semester here at Sacred Heart Academy! We have been involved with Service Days, State Championship games and meets, honors assemblies, Primes, speakers on a variety of topics, and First Friday Masses. Sacred Heart Academy has so many wonderful parts to it, it has been hard to pull together a Town Cryor that isn’t twenty pages long. So, just a few thoughts and observations to share:
A Kindergarten Morning
“Where is my weather person?” asked Mrs. Eshleman. “Who is my calendar person?” The important work of kindergarten had begun. After saying the prayer and the pledge, the class settled down on the alphabet rug to start their day of learning. The calendar person reported that the day was Friday, and the weather person gathered class opinions before it was decided that it was partly cloudy.
And all of this work was accomplished with great joy and energy. Kindergarten is indeed a special place to be. As I looked at the clock and remembered my own calendar, I will admit that I had to pull myself out of the classroom to return to my desk. As I left the room it was to a chorus of “Good-bye Miss Cryor!” as the girls waved to me.
There is nothing like Congé!
December 6 is the Feast of St. Nicholas so students started their day in the gym while the Third Grade class shared prayers and stories about the jolly St. Nicholas. Upper School girls were on the bleachers, middle and lower school girls gathered together on the floor as they listened. Pretty ordinary… until the girls were told to watch a special video that students had put together in honor of St. Nick. And then they heard that word that brings out screeches and screams from every girl in the room: Congé! I think the screaming went on for hours… (I always remember the visiting student at Stone Ridge who did not know what a Congé was and as the girls began screaming asked one of the teachers “does Congé mean scream?”)
Congé is a fun day for the girls and the Student Council leaders didn’t scrimp in the fun that was planned for everyone. As an adult watching the day - I have to say that my heart pumps up with pride. It is a day planned for students and run by students. And all day long there are smiles and laughter all day long. The enthusiasm is for Congé, but truly … it’s for SHA. What an awesome school.
Thanksgiving Drive, the SHA Way
Kelly Weber wrote in an email after our Thanksgiving Drive, “Thanks to all for helping make this year's Thanksgiving Dinner Donation Drive a HUGE success. Whether you helped coordinate the items at SHA, picked up turkeys, drove the vans, or arranged pie delivery, none of it would have been possible without each individual's help. Thanks to the effort of the Mothers' Association, we had 200 turkeys from Giant. We had about 50 more turkeys from school, along with five cars filled with boxes of food and pies. Those of us who delivered to the food pantry can affirm that the need was great. Many families expressed sincere gratitude and joy that they will now have food for their daughters. Our CSC student helpers were wonderful representatives. As usual, we had to tell them not to do too much, and yes, carrying three or four frozen turkeys at once is not a good choice!”
Goal III challenges us to educate to a social awareness which impels to action. It’s hard not to be proud of this community as I drove up the hill that morning to see cars and vans being packed with food.
Middle School Students at Network of Sacred Heart Schools Conference
Four of our Middle School girls represented SHA recently at a three-day meeting of the Network of Sacred Heart schools. The meeting was in St. Charles, Missouri. Mrs. Robinson accompanied the students. Called “Roots,” this conference is usually slated for adults working in Sacred Heart Network schools. However, for this year, in honor of our celebration of 200 years of Sacred Heart schools in the United States, the program focused on Middle School students. Our girls were thrilled to be at the first student conference and represent our school. They visited Academy of St. Charles (our pre K to 8th grade school); St. Philippine Duchesne’s Shrine and St. Ferdinand’s in Florissant - and the Arch!
During the time together our girls met other Sacred Heart girls (and boys!) from around the US. The girls focused on building community (Goal IV!) across the Network as well as ways that they may cross frontiers, as Philippine did in 1818 when she brought the Society of Sacred Heart from France to the United States. They also had the opportunity to brainstorm what kind of service they will participate in for next year when we celebrate the 200th anniversary.
Needless to say, our girls were wonderful representatives of SHA. And, as is a usual outcome of meeting other Sacred Heart students, the girls are all still in touch with the friends they made.
A New Banner in the Gym
At the beginning of this school year, we learned that we received the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Sportsmanship Banner for 2016-17. As a part of PIAA, we are committed to sportsmanship rules for coaches and contestants. All contests are based on mutual respect. What a wonderful recognition to receive! When our athletic director Cindy Shay shared with me that we had won the banner, I hooted and hollered. “Outstanding!” I said to her. I couldn’t help but be so proud to be a part of a school that would be recognized for its respect of others, for its commitment to community. Then again, we are a Sacred Heart school so we are challenged to educate to a building of community (Goal IV). The students and alumnae of our school can change the world. Well done SHA!
Speaking of Sacred Heart…
Back in September when we celebrated our Mass of the Holy Spirit, we welcomed Father Tom McCarthy OSA from Villanova. Father McCarthy works in the Office of Student Life at Villanova. During his homily he mentioned his admiration for the Network of Sacred Heart Schools, and how he knows firsthand that we are a part of something larger. In fact, he said, during dinner the night before in one of the dining halls with the students, three students joined him. When he shared that he was going to say Mass at SHA the next day, one of the girls cheered with delight and shared that she was a graduate of another Sacred Heart school. She sent him with her good wishes! Yep, we are a part of something larger.
Ring Day, a Special Day for so Many Reasons
At our recent Ring Ceremony, I had the opportunity to share my reflection on Ring Day. I share my reflection here:
This is such an important moment in your life as a Sacred Heart student. I promise you that as you wear your ring you will find other Sacred Heart students out there who will approach you and say “did you go to a Sacred Heart school?” I have a friend who showed her ring at the Spanish steps to the nuns there so that she could see the painting of Mater.
And in the days and months and years to come, when you look at your ring, you will smile remembering today and remembering how special it is to be a Child of the Sacred Heart. We are a school based on the love of Christ. Your ring reminds you of that love.
So, last year, I shared with you how much I loved my Stone Ridge ring, which I wore just about every day … and I shared with you my frustration and sadness when I found out it had been stolen when my house was broken into in Denver …. Well, what I had planned on sharing with you today on this Ring Day was how I ordered a new ring from Stone Ridge and how excited I was to have a new ring. But I didn’t get my act together soon enough to get the ring ordered.
But fate, or I like to think God, has a funny way of giggling at us. I hope you don’t mind if I take a moment to share a story with you.
So, my mother graduated from Sacred Heart in Overbrook in 1956. When I was a little girl, I remember seeing a green and gold ring on her finger. I remember playing with the ring when I went through her jewelry box. I remember her telling me it was her school ring. And, that when I went to Sacred Heart I would get a ring too. Then, when I was at Stone Ridge and it was ring day, she enjoyed wearing her school ring to my ceremony and celebrating our Sacred Heart bond.
Now, I have to tell you about something some of you may have never experienced. In banks there is something called a Safety Deposit Box that you can rent. My parents had a box in our bank in my town in Maryland where I grew up. They kept things in that box that was the most important to them and that, if the house burned down or was broken into, would still be safe. You might not have heard of them today because safety deposit boxes aren’t quite as popular today as they once were.
But my mom liked having a safety deposit box so as her life marched on, she took care to put things in the box that were dear to her, and that she wanted to be sure we would have after she was gone. We had some idea what was there, but not specifically.
This past Thanksgiving weekend, my sister suggested that we check the box. My mother has been gone for a few years and we have taken care of just about every detail, but not that one. So off we went to the bank. We were lead into the vault area where the boxes are kept. My sister had the keys. We pulled open the box and began to inventory what was in there. Papers, my father’s coin collection, and a pink, velvet jewelry box.
My sister opened the jewelry box, and there was my mother’s jewelry. Things she had worn most of her life. And, things she decided were so dear that she put them away safely for us. My sister held up watches, bracelets, my father’s wedding ring and then she asked, “What is this?” as she held up a green and gold ring.
There it was. My mother’s Sacred Heart ring. The ring she received when she was a junior at Overbrook way back in 1955. The ring she wore most of her life. The ring I played with as a little girl. The ring that she wore on my ring day. The ring she put away safely so I would have it one day.
As I said, I believe these rings mean so much. On our fingers is the love of Sacred Heart right there. And, the reminder of all that we are a part of. God’s love, our family’s love, our school community.
Ring Day sure is special, isn’t it?
In Loving Memory of Mary Ellen Harvey, 1934-2017
A year ago when I arrived at Bryn Mawr, I met a wonderful woman named Mary Ellen Harvey. I had the pleasure of visiting with her at different times at different events, including a visit to her house this past summer. Whenever we visited, she always had a special memento for me either from Sacred Heart’s past or from my alma mater Haverford College. From our first meeting, I was struck by her thoughtfulness. She and I shared so many good conversations about this school’s history. She was a treasure trove of stories about Sacred Heart because, in fact, Mary Ellen herself is an essential part of our school’s history. Really… she is one of our heroes.
Mary Ellen graduated from Sacred Heart in 1952. She remembered my mother - who was in Middle School when Mary Ellen was in Upper School. Mary Ellen continued to be an active member of the class, regularly coordinating the class reunions and keeping in touch with her classmates.
In the 1970s, when the RSCJs left, it became clear that Sacred Heart was going to have to work doubly hard to remain a Sacred Heart school and eventually would have to leave the Overbrook campus, Mary Ellen immediately dedicated all her time to our school and signed up to be on the school committee. To hear the stories of that time, the opinion was unanimous that Mary Ellen was an essential member of that team resolute in her commitment and hard work.
Mary Ellen stayed on the committee that made sure the school remained open during all of those years. And she continued to be involved either as a parent or on the Alumnae Board or on a number of different committees. This summer she shared with me the story of when she got the phone call that the move from Overbrook was imminent. With a twinkle in her eye as she recalled the exciting moment, she told me that she received the phone call tasking her with moving the Chapel, including selling many of the Chapel’s items. She reported that she flew into action. Of course she did!
Last year, when we announced the new name, Sacred Heart Academy, I received a quick email from Mary Ellen. It said, simply, “Name - Sacred Heart Academy Bryn Mawr, Perfect!”
Mary Ellen died a few weeks before Thanksgiving. I attended her funeral at St. Margaret’s. During the homily, the priest made note of Mary Ellen’s dedication to SHA; how much she loved this school. And as he spoke, I looked around to see so many people from Sacred Heart’s past sitting there to say goodbye to their good friend. So many heroes. On the back of the funeral program was a quotation from St. Madeleine Sophie that was perfect for Mary Ellen, “Let us hand over all our cares to Jesus, praying that he will act for us. Then everything will take care of itself.” Mary Ellen lived a life full of family, friends and faith.
After the funeral, the sun was shining as I returned to school. I drove up the hill and parked my car. As I walked through the Red Doors, and heard the bustling of lunchtime and the enthusiastic voices of our students, I couldn’t help but think of Mary Ellen. I was reminded of Madeleine Sophie’s words, “Let us leave acts, not words.”
Thank you to Mary Ellen and all who went before us to assure that we have our school.