Lifestyle

An all-girl educational environment that empowers students to lead

By Magaly Olivero
Photographs by ChiChi Ubiña

The banner adorning the main building overlooking the expansive campus of Convent of the Sacred Heart says it all: “Strengthening the Mind, Deepening the Spirit.”

From making midnight runs to assist New York’s homeless to conducting projects to support their sister school in Uganda, Sacred Heart students take part in enriching experiences that prepare them to become accomplished and compassionate leaders in today’s global community.

“The opportunities for our students both inside and outside of the classroom are endless,” said Catherine Cullinane, director of Admissions and Financial Aid. “We’re here to foster a lifelong love of learning.”

A deep international heritage

Located on a 110-acre campus in Greenwich, Conn., Convent of the Sacred Heart is an independent day school for young women from preschool through grade 12. The school has 770 students in the lower, middle and upper schools who carry out the Sacred Heart tradition of academic excellence and development of the mind, body and spirit. Students of all faiths attend the school.

St. Madeleine Sophie Barat established the Society of the Sacred Heart in Paris shortly after the French Revolution with the belief that educated women could influence and transform society. Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich is part of a worldwide network of Sacred Heart schools in 41 countries, including 22 schools in the United States. All the schools are committed to a set of principles known as the “Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Schools.”

Sacred Heart promotes a personal relationship with God and fosters the spiritual lives of students. Chapel services and theology classes allow students to share and reflect with others. “We want the girls to relate the experiences they are having in life back to their faith,” said Cullinane.

Putting community service into action

Helping students find meaningful ways to serve the local and world community is important, too. Students get involved in age appropriate activities, whether it’s bringing toiletries to the homeless, serving meals at a soup kitchen, or recycling bottles to raise funds for their sister school in Uganda. Seniors must complete 100 hours of community service to graduate. In the Upper School, all students must complete 25 hours per year.

“Community service is an integral component of the school experience as students come to learn how they can make a difference in the world,” said Lori Wilson, a theology teacher in the Upper School and the director of Campus Ministry. “We hope to instill a lifelong commitment to service and leadership.”

A deep respect for intellectual values

A strong academic program is another cornerstone of the Sacred Heart experience beginning at an early age. Classrooms in the lower school have two fulltime teachers with master’s degrees. The world language program introduces students to French, Spanish or Chinese beginning in kindergarten then adding Arabic and Latin in the Upper School. Every student has a computer laptop beginning in grade seven. “We help every child find her academic passion,” said Cullinane. “We encourage them to explore, take risks and make choices.”

Cullinane believes an all-girl school provides the ideal setting for students to flourish in a supportive and creative atmosphere. “Our girls develop a strong sense of confidence and self that will help them succeed long after they leave school,” she said. “They feel good about who they are and are eager to celebrate each other’s successes.”

The beautiful campus includes modern classrooms, a theater, art gallery, a state-of-the-art science wing and advanced computer laboratories in the Lower and Middle Schools. Technology is integrated into the educational experience for each student from the use of iPads in the Lower School and smart boards that allow an interactive teaching experience with laptops in the Middle and Upper Schools to a wireless campus for the school’s laptop program and new Macs in the Lower and Middle School computer labs. Another key resource is the Media Center houses the David J. Bloom Broadcasting Suite complete with studio, control room, green screen and editing rooms. Students from all grades use the studio to produce “Today from the Heart,” documentaries and videos with many garnering top national and local broadcast awards.

An academic exchange program enables students to spend two to ten weeks during the year studying at another Sacred Heart school in the United States or the world, including Australia, England, France, Latin America, Mexico and Spain. “The program complements the educational experience our girls are getting at Greenwich,” said Jennifer Bensen, Upper School Dean of Academics and the coordinator of the Network Exchange Program. “Girls can enjoy the benefits of having a global experience while staying in the familiar network of the Sacred Heart schools.”

Molly Smith, who is a junior in the Upper School, spent three weeks studying at a Sacred Heart school in London. “It was an amazing experience,” said Smith, who stayed with a family who lives on a farm. For Smith, the exchange program is just one of the many reasons she enjoys attending Sacred Heart. “At school, I can just focus on my studies and spend time with my girl friends,” she said. “I love it here.”

1177 King Street
Greenwich, Connecticut 06831
(203) 531-6500
www.cshgreenwich.org