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Everything listed under: presidents blog

  • Grateful for a Strong Scecina Community


    Archbishop Tobin shaking hands with President Therber at Father Tom Mass on November 5th

    This month, we celebrated a splendid Father Tom Day Mass on campus. It was a lively and first-rate celebration of Father Tom and of our school community.

    We had a full house. To be a little more informal, the gym was packed! It was a beautiful and strong sight that reflected many profound messages and realities

    Why was it such a special day?

    To welcome everyone to Father Tom Day, I commented that we are a “Scecina Strong” community of more than 7,500 people from various walks of life. The full house on Father Tom Day was a profound testament of our community.

    Archbishop Joseph Tobin, C. Ss. R., was the primary Mass celebrant. Eight priests who currently serve in the East Deanery or who have served here at one time concelebrated.

    Our ongoing mission as a co-educational archdiocesan Catholic high school means many things. One is that we have a collaborative and positive relationship with the Archbishop of Indianapolis, who now is Archbishop Joseph Tobin, C. Ss. R. Were it not for the full endorsement of the Archbishop of Indianapolis, whoever he is at any given moment, we would not exist.

    Think about that! Archbishop Tobin, like his predecessors including Archbishop Daniel Buechlein most recently, is like a parent to us. Archbishops give us life, guidance, encouragement, and support. If we wander from the intended path, which we hope not to do, Archbishop Tobin can call us back.

    Who else celebrated Father Tom Day? Our liturgical choir was absolutely outstanding. All of our students’ attentiveness and engagement in the Mass were high. Our teachers and our students’ parents, the first and primary educators, deserve much credit for fostering reverence and respect during this Mass and all of our weekly all-school Masses.

    Joining in the day were many alumni and friends, including Board members, parents, grandparents, and members of our Veterans Committee. I enjoy saying that our alumni veterans and the Veterans Committee are special people whose deep respect for Father Tom and for the values of service and sacrifice inspire us.

    Nearly 200 East Deanery middle school students joined us with their teachers and principals. Each East Deanery school brought its 6th, 7th, or 8th grade class to learn about Father Tom and experience Mass on the Scecina campus. These young people and their adult leaders represented the schools of Saint Philip Neri, Holy Cross, Little Flower, Our Lady of Lourdes, Holy Spirit, and Saint Michael (Greenfield) in fine fashion.

    At the conclusion of Mass, we presented the Father Tom Service Award to Father Bob Gilday, Pastor of Little Flower Parish. We present this award annually to a person who has made Scecina Memorial High School an important part of his or her life and who often, in Father Tom’s words, “gives that little extra.”

    In his own words, Father Bob was shocked—a reflection of his humility. As Little Flower pastor and as a member of our Board of Directors, Father Bob often goes the extra mile and is a strong source of insight, support, and advocacy that have helped our school grow and improve during the last several years. The Little Flower students in attendance led the applause for their pastor.

    When Archbishop Tobin began his homily, his first word was, “Finally.” He said that he was glad to finally be at our school to celebrate Father Tom Day with our community after we had to postpone the event three times last year during the harsh winter that we all want to forget but are bracing ourselves for again.

    The second time that I met Archbishop Tobin after he came to Indianapolis, his words were, “Scecina. I want to visit Scecina.” I appreciated Archbishop Tobin’s unsolicited desire to be part of a school that is similar to high schools and communities where he has ministered previously. The archbishop’s opening word—“Finally”—attests to his desire to be in positive relationship with Scecina Memorial High School.

    As he continued, Archbishop Tobin told a story of a friend who was a priest who needed to give a special homily. The priest asked his cousin, a beautiful young girl to come forward and assist him with his homily. She stood by the priest as he spoke. He spoke about love. Eventually, he asked his cousin to imagine that someday a young man would look at her with starry eyes and say that he loved her with all his heart, mind, soul, and might. The priest turned to the girl and asked her what she should do when that occurred. The blushing young girl did not know what to say. The priest came to her rescue. He told her to “Run like h***!”

    The point of the story is that only God can love us completely and at all times, and that He created us to love Him from the deepest part of ourselves, as well. Even though we love one another as best we can, only God can love us infinitely, unconditionally, and at all times.

    Surely, for us as a Catholic high school, conveying this truth of our Christian faith is as valuable as every diploma that we present at Commencement. The vocation that we all share is to make and fulfill a commitment to know, love, and serve God every day. How, when, and where we know, love, and serve Him is unique to every person.

    Only 34 years of age when he died in service to God, freedoms, and his fellow man, Father Thomas Scecina lived his vocation to the fullest. While none of us is likely to endure a multi-mile torturous military death march or to die at sea on a Prisoner of War ship as he did, we all can serve and sacrifice today and tomorrow, just as he did.

    Archbishop Tobin pointed out a unique fact about our school. He noted that we are the only high school in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis established to remember and honor a Catholic priest who willingly gave his life for his friends. Please watch the video of his homily.

    May we live in such a way that our heavenly diplomas will be written with numerous examples of cheerfully living, in the words of our mission statement, “as servant leaders in the inspiring footsteps of Father Thomas Scecina.”

    I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and enjoy the time with your family and friends. Grateful to everyone who strengthens and spreads our “Scecina Strong” community, I am,

    Sincerely yours,

    Joe Therber
    President


                     

  • It's All About Relationships

    SMHS students celebrated Mass outside at Turkey Run State Park

    Catholic Christians begin prayer by saying, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” These words identify the person praying as a Catholic. Those simple words remind Catholics of the Blessed Trinity and to do everything in the name of the Lord.

    The Trinity is a gift and the model for all relationships. It is a model that emphasizes love and unity. This one relationship sets the standard. It is a challenging standard. Every day and in every way, it demands much of all Catholics and everyone who serves in Catholic schools.

    Every Catholic school takes on the challenge of nurturing students to have life-giving and loving relationships. In that way, all Catholic schools are the same. Schools differ, however, in how they address the challenge.

    Today, as has been the case since 1953, our mission, vision and values guide our efforts to help students love God, themselves, others, and all of Creation. These values say, “Inspired by our Lord Jesus Christ and his servants Father Thomas Scecina and the Sisters of Saint Francis, we embrace:

    • Vocation:  Honoring and living according to the unique gifts that God has given us in keeping with the teachings and values of the Catholic faith
    • Servant Leadership:  Following Jesus’ example of meeting people’s needs and helping them fulfill their highest destinies
    • Stewardship:  Receiving, cultivating, and sharing God's gifts gratefully and generously
    • Excellence:  Living the Gospel and attaining the best possible results in all that we do.

    These values guide us as we prepare students to be Crusaders, not just now, but forever. We want our students and graduates to do the right thing for God, themselves, others, and creation. We want them to be servant leaders.

    What is a servant leader? I would suggest that the answer includes being a person who is committed to meeting the highest priority needs of others. We prepare students to make the world better. We want them to build and nurture relationships that are based on a love of God, themselves, others, and creation.

    We begin by focusing on each student. Teachers and staff help students appreciate their uniqueness and cultivate their talents and gifts to the fullest. They help students strive to be all that God wants them to be. This spirit of servant leadership is why we are developing individual success plans for students. It is why we are strengthening our guidance program. It is why we had a spiritual retreat for faculty and staff at the beginning of the school year so that we can reflect upon our important ministry in the world.

    We help students love God through study and worship. We are blessed to have a strong Catholic Theology program, vibrant Campus Ministry offerings, and many priests from the East Deanery who care deeply about our students. We have a Mass in the gym almost every week during the school year. This week, our seniors are on a spiritual retreat. For many, it is the high point of their senior year. Please remember them in your prayers while they are making this spiritual journey.

    We help students appreciate others, for example, their teachers, coaches, family, classmates, and friends. Each person, after all, has vast dignity as creation of God that contains a spark of the divine. We help others in need through community service such as the food drive that is in progress. And, we are a diverse group. If you were to walk our halls between classes you would see that we look like the world, a happy world with lots of smiles.

    We are more than just a school. We are a Catholic ministry, which means that we are to foster affirmation in the midst of our strengths and forgiveness in the midst of our imperfections. Counting students, teachers, staff, parents, and alumni, we are a community of more than 7,500 persons strong.

    As a community, we gather at Mass to praise and worship God on Wednesdays in the gym. We gather at football and basketball games and other sporting events to cheer our teams and see our friends. We gather at Commencement to celebrate the present and the future, and to remember days gone by. We gather to celebrate Father Tom Day and the veterans who served our nation. We gather at Club 53 to relax and dance—some well and some not caring so much about their gracefulness.

    We want our students to love all of creation. We have an excellent science curriculum, which includes a series of biomedical science courses that can result in college credit. And, it is not all about studying. For example, recently our Campus Ministry staff led a weekend outing to Turkey Run State Park. The pictures on Facebook and Twitter showed our students enjoying God’s creation, enjoying each other, hiking, and just having a good time.

    Teaching young people to love God, themselves, others, and creation is a very challenging undertaking. When we succeed, our graduates are uniquely prepared to continue building positive relationships after they leave Scecina. The Trinity and the Catholic education that they have received become the rock upon which they can live their lives to the fullest and make the world a better place.

    For those of you who live in central Indiana, let me double back and mention community again. On Tuesday, November 5 we will celebrate Father Tom Day, and Archbishop Tobin will celebrate Mass with priests of the East Deanery. This year marks the 70th anniversary of Father Tom’s death at sea during World War II. We will gather at 9:30 am. You can RSVP online. It would be great if you could attend. And I hope to see you at Club 53 on Saturday evening, November 15. You can purchase tickets online.

    Thank you for your part in our Crusade and for supporting our Crusader students of today.

    Sincerely,

    Joe Therber
    President

  • Mourning Our Loss


    At the close of the school Mass on Wednesday, we sang "Blessed Are They". The lyrics are taken from the Beatitudes, which are at the heart of Jesus' preaching and are found in Matthew 5:3-12. In light of recent events, I couldn’t help reflecting on the second beatitude:

    Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

    The past two weeks have been a difficult time for our school community. The sad and sudden death of a long-time member of this Eastside community, Brian Hawkins, has impacted hundreds if not thousands of students, staff members, alumni, family members, friends, and colleagues on our campus and beyond. Clearly, much sadness remains.

    When tragedies occur, God does not necessarily promise clear or even any answers to the questions about why, how, or when. He does, though, invite us to comfort and support one another through presence and prayer.

    An image in my mind is Mary at the foot of the Cross while Jesus was excruciatingly punished for his beliefs, actions, and identity. What possible explanation would have sufficed for her? But she was present to her Son and has become a model of humility, comfort, and consolation for us.

    Similarly, the grace of God has provided an outpouring of comfort and consolation for our students and community. Sincere conversations, reflections, phone calls, handwritten notes, personalized e-mails, text messages, and more have built a strong support blanket for the Hawkins immediate and extended family, the Little Flower Parish community, and the Scecina Memorial High School community.

    We are blessed to have so many kind and generous professionals on staff. Guidance counselors, teachers, administrators, and support staff have joined minds, hearts, and hands with colleagues from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to support, comfort, and console our students as the Gospel of Matthew envisions.

    As we lift our eyes above the water level, let us also be thankful for signs of life in our midst. Earlier this week, I joined nearly 1,000 persons, including 10 of our students and staff, at the annual Right to Life dinner downtown. We celebrated the dignity of pre-born babies and the sanctity of life from conception until natural death. This week, many of our students from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and Holy Spirit Parish voluntarily received the Sacrament of Confirmation at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. As the parent of one newly confirmed and sponsor of another, I am rejuvenated by the joy that these events provide, thanks be to God.

    Let us pray for the soul of Brian Hawkins and for his family. Let us seek peace of mind and heart through the knowledge that God wants to comfort those who mourn.

    May God always bless you, and may we cultivate in one another the eyes to see and the ears to hear the blessings that He provides.

    Sincerely,

    Joe Therber
    President



     

  • Growing According to Plan

    When it comes to thinking about the future, I have always liked this quotation from Lewis Carroll: “If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

    Fortunately, at SMHS we have a plan to guide our future. The plan was developed over several months through a process that involved over 250 individuals from the school and greater Scecina Memorial community. Our Board of Directors and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis administration approved it in November 2013. We call it the Strategic Growth Plan.
     

    Workers install "Cat6a" cable for faster data transmission.

    Today, I would like to highlight one Strategic Growth Plan area, in particular, in which we have made significant progress: Technology. For example, right now, we are wrapping Scecina in 33,000 linear feet of category 6a cable for data transmission. This improvement is analogous to transforming a bumpy country road into a modern freeway--the new US 31 freeway that bypasses Kokomo comes to mind. Traffic moves faster and smoother. Similarly, at SMHS data is going to move much faster and smoother.

    When our students return to SMHS for the first day of classes on Monday, August 11, we will have accomplished the following in Technology:

    • Completed significant technology infrastructure upgrades throughout the school building,
    • Purchased and deployed 70 new computers for faculty and staff in anticipation of a 1:1 student computing environment,
    • Purchased and installed flat screen panel displays in several classrooms with more planned,
    • Updated our management information system for reporting and supporting technology requests, and
    • Begun professional development for staff on the use of new devices and software.

    Many people have been instrumental in ushering in this new era of integrating technology into teaching, learning, and other school processes.I would like to thank everyone, and in particular our Technology Committee, for supporting these technology improvements. I am confident that their work will advance our effectiveness in service to our students and community.

    During the first year of implementation, Scecina Memorial staff and volunteer Implementation Teams have succeeded in meeting a number of objectives across all Strategic Growth Plan areas. I invite you to learn of these achievements over the coming months by reading my blog. Each month, I will highlight two implementation areas of the Strategic Growth Plan, including updates on our Facility Master Plan.

    Thank you for your continued commitment to Scecina Memorial High School. Through your generosity and support, our school will continue to grow and flourish as a ministry of the Catholic Church on the east side of Indianapolis.

    Sincerely,

    Joe Therber
    President

  • Looking Forward | Improvements and Expansions

    We understand that one of the unique features of a Scecina Memorial education is a personalized, Catholic Christian school environment. This environment fosters acceptance, compassion, and respect for the diversity that is among us. Personalizing attention, appreciating our students’ unique God-given gifts, teaching to foster academic success, and providing opportunities for students to grow in God’s plan for them are what we do best.

    Listening to the members of our school community and addressing their needs is an important part of this personalized approach to education. Therefore, I am pleased to announce the following improvements and expansions that you can expect for the 2014-2015 school year:

    • Scecina Memorial will begin a new era of technology in education. We will invest $300,000 during the next 14 months by hiring a Vice President of Technology, engaging in professional development for staff, upgrading technology infrastructure and wiring, installing classroom projectors, and providing teachers and staff with new computing devices, thereby setting the stage for providing students with computing devices. We will continue to urge our students to use technology responsibly and ethically while developing interpersonal relationship skills.
    • We plan to expand our Guidance Department by hiring a full-time counselor to specialize in Career Counseling services for students.
    • We will expand our Biomedical Science Program by adding a new course titled “Human Body Systems,” the second course in the nationally recognized Project Lead the Way Biomedical Science curriculum. The foundational course, “Principles of the Biomedical Sciences,” will continue.
    • In partnership with several colleges and universities, we are adding eight dual credit courses in English, Accounting, Teacher Education, and Marketing.
    • We are creating a Master Teacher position. The purpose of this enhancement is to integrate and sustain daily professional development of our faculty. Duties will include observing classrooms, providing prompt feedback to teachers, facilitating scheduled strategy discussions among faculty groups, and appraising teachers’ performance in concert with our Principal, Mr. Hegarty.
    • In Campus Ministry, we will build upon the successful experience we had this year by continuing and enhancing underclass retreats next year. Our partnership with the University of Notre Dame will continue. This partnership has brought us additional staff resources to coordinate and plan programs that foster a strong Catholic culture here at Scecina.
    • Starting with an expanded all-staff retreat for the 2014 – 2015 year, we will develop faith formation opportunities for our staff throughout the year and on an ongoing basis.
    • We will improve our building and classrooms by replacing lintels above gymnasium windows, tuck pointing sections of masonry, painting classrooms and stairways, and installing additional security cameras and new classroom lights.
    • We are preparing for the future through our Strategic Growth Plan. A top priority is to develop a Facility Master Plan that reflects our mission and helps us all to live it. Please look for more information on this exciting development as the year progresses.

    These improvements and ongoing programs are funded through a combination of alumni and friends’ support, parish and archdiocesan support, and tuition. They will add to our existing programs, which include:

    Looking ahead, the 2014-2015 school year will surely be a memorable one. Our current programs and these planned improvements will enhance the student experience and continue advancing the mission of Scecina Memorial High School.

    Thank you for your commitment and generous support of our school. I look forward to your continued involvement.