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

  • 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



     

  • 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

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