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 President Therber can be contacted by email at jtherber@scecina.org or by  telephone at 317.352.3282

  • 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



     

  • Enrollment at Highest Level in a Decade

     

    In the 1950’s, Scecina Memorial was one of only a few Catholic high schools for Indianapolis families. Upon our school’s opening in 1953, Catholic families responded enthusiastically to the opportunities Scecina offered their children to grow intellectually, socially, and spiritually. Enrollment soared, stressing the physical capacity of the school, and very soon it became necessary to build additional high schools.

    Today, best practices in education--as well as fire codes--will not allow for our building to accommodate the enrollment of those early years. (A 1:45 student-to-teacher ratio was a bit much!) But we have room to grow, and guided by our Strategic Growth Plan and in accordance with our mission, vision, and values, we have begun to intentionally increase our enrollment.

    Scecina Memorial High School began the 2014-2015 school year with a freshman class of 128 students and a total school enrollment of 430 students. This is the highest enrollment we have seen in the last decade!

    Students and staff pack the home stands for the school year's first All-School Mass.

    While this recent growth is cause enough for excitement, I am optimistic about the future as well. We are making a number of improvements that will strengthen our school and increase our enrollment further. Our vision is to be the school of choice for students and families seeking unique moments to learn, grow, and go forth to transform the world inspired by the light of Christ. This year we are undertaking new initiatives that will advance our efforts to achieve this vision.

    2014-15 Initiatives:

    • A new Master Teacher position. This role is responsible for integrating and sustaining daily professional development of SMHS faculty.
    • An expanded Guidance Department. A full-time career counselor for students will complement the efforts of the College Counselor and other members of the guidance staff.
    • An expanded Biomedical Science Program. A new course titled “Human Body Systems” is the second course in a nationally recognized Project Lead the Way curriculum.
    • Additional dual credit courses.  Courses in Biomedical Sciences, Computer Programming, Accounting, and Marketing are the product of partnerships with several colleges and universities.
    • A continued partnership with the University of Notre Dame’s ECHO program. This provides additional staff resources to foster a strong Catholic culture at SMHS.

    These initiatives will continue to fuel our recent enrollment growth and, more importantly, provide our families with the very best in Catholic education. In the months ahead, I will share additional initiatives designed to advance our school in a number of areas. I look forward to the opportunity!

    Over the past 60 years, the landscape of Catholic education in Indianapolis has changed in many ways. And while the days of 45 students per classroom are over, we remain committed to motivating our diverse and gifted community of students to attain educational excellence, be lifelong learners, and live as servant leaders in the inspiring footsteps of Father Thomas Scecina.

    Thank you for your continued support of Scecina Memorial High School.

    Sincerely,

    Joe Therber
    President



     

  • High Expectations, High Support

    Recently I received the fantastic news that Crusader baseball coach and 1968 alum, Dave Gandolph, was named Regional Coach of The Year. The award is impressive and well-deserved. How it was earned is impressive as well.

    The Crusader baseball program excelled this year, in large part, because Coach Gandolph created a team culture of high expectations and high support. “Expect to Win” was the team’s motto. They did just that—and often! Yes, it’s amazing what setting expectations can do. But at Scecina Memorial, high expectations are not reserved just for our athletic programs.college visit

    One of our Strategic Growth Plan goals is to create a culture of high expectations and high support at Scecina Memorial High School across all areas. Therefore, last school year, a group of faculty, parents, and volunteers, chaired by Principal John Hegarty, evaluated the strengths and limitations in our school day schedule.

    The committee reviewed factors such as the start and end times of the school day;the length and number of class periods;tutoring opportunities;and students' availability for college planning, academic advising, and other counseling topics. Following this assessment, the group recommended potential adjustments that would foster high expectations and high support for our students.

    The results of this process have produced a new Daily Schedule that will greatly benefit our students in many ways. We have added a Resource Period to our school day that will allow students to:

    • Meet individually with an academic advisor on a quarterly basis (without conflicting with in-class time) to develop and review a personalized Student Success Plan.
    • Attend tutoring sessions with a faculty member for extra instruction, practice, and/or test preparation.
    • Meet with college representatives when they visit our campus.
    • Discuss college admission and scholarship opportunities with our College Counselor.
    • Complete homework during the school day.

    This enhanced Daily Schedule will foster high expectations and support for our students; and, just as it was with our baseball program, success and recognition are sure to follow. Thank you to our staff members and volunteers who generously shared their time and viewpoints to help make this enhancement a homerun! (I couldn’t resist.)

    In Catholic Education,

    Joe Therber



     

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