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Principal's Blog

  • Scecina prayer service to honor victims of Florida shooting, support protest against school gun violence


    By Principal Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D.

    Dear Parents and Community,

    Our school has planned a prayer service for this Wednesday, March 14, to honor the sacredness of life. Our prayer service is in support of a national school protest against gun violence in schools. We will remember in prayer the 17 students and staff who lost their lives due to the senseless shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. We pray for everyone affected by the shootings and mourn with the victims’ families and community. The date of our prayer service marks the one-month anniversary of the shootings.

    Encouraged by our administration, students and their moderators from Campus Ministry, Student Council, and Crusaders for Life planned the service. It will take place at approximately 10:15 a.m. for 25 minutes immediately after our regularly scheduled Wednesday Mass in Scecina’s gym. All members of our community are welcome to attend.

    The service will include an introduction, opening prayer, time to honor each victim of the Parkland shooting, and a closing prayer. Fourteen of our students will read the names of the 14 students at Parkland who lost their lives followed by a prayer, quote or statistic and a minute of silence for each of the deceased victims. We will do the same for the three Parkland staff members who lost their lives. At the conclusion, students, staff, and the community will have an opportunity to sign a banner to support the sacredness of life, protest against gun violence in schools, and honor the lives of the victims.

    Students who wish to participate will stay for the prayer service and those who do not will be supervised in the cafeteria until the next period bell rings.

    Through prayerful reflection and action, our students, staff, and community can help make the world a better place while honoring the sanctity of life.

    Thank you in advance for supporting our expression of faith, and please contact me if you have any questions.

    Principal Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D. 

  • Prayers for Florida, safety at school


    By Principal Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D.

    By now we all know about the tragedy that unfolded on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. A gunman began shooting just before dismissal, killing 17 and injuring 15 at the school. 

    Like everyone, I’m heartbroken about this tragedy, and my prayers are with the victims and the families. As the principal of Scecina, this tragedy reinforces for me the importance of keeping your children safe. I want to assure our families that our school has a safety committee that meets monthly and an emergency operations plan. All faculty are required to take Armed Intruder Training. From day one, safety has been a top priority of mine. 

    I put together a safety committee of more than 20 members. The liaison police officers assigned to our school by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) are members of the committee. I have assigned members of our safety committee to one of four teams: Prevention & Mitigation, Protection, Response, and Recovery. The definitions for prevention, mitigation, protection, response, and recovery follow. 

    Prevention means the capabilities necessary to avoid, deter, or stop an imminent crime or threatened or actual mass casualty incident. 

    Mitigation means the capabilities necessary to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and property damage by lessening the impact of an event or emergency. 

    Protection means the capabilities to secure schools against acts of violence and human-made or natural disasters. 

    Response means the capabilities necessary to stabilize an emergency once it has already happened or is certain to happen in an unpreventable way. 

    Recovery means the capabilities necessary to assist schools affected by an event or emergency in restoring the learning environment. 

    I believe it is critical to have an active safety committee. 

    Scecina has a comprehensive emergency operations plan. A big part of the plan is our organizational chart that specifies the roles and responsibilities of our faculty and staff when and if an emergency occurs. Each faculty and staff member has a flip chart with the protocols for various types of emergencies. Over the course of the year, we conduct drills with our students, faculty, and staff. At each faculty meeting, I review various protocols and give everyone an opportunity to talk about them, ask questions, and make suggestions. At the start of each school year, I provide our faculty and staff with emergency operation plan training. Should an incident occur, the school has an evacuation site for students and a gathering place for parents. I want to assure you that I am committed to continuous school safety, as are all members of our faculty and staff. 

    All faculty and staff are required to take Armed Intruder Training. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis requires this. Each year everyone must view the IMPD’s refresher course to stay up to date on the latest protocols on how to respond to an armed intruder. Know that I am committed to ensuring everyone gets the safety training they need to keep our school safe and secure. 

    Once again, I want to ensure you that a safe and secure school is a top priority of mine. 

    Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D. 

  • 1:1 Technology and teachers on leave


    By Principal Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D.

    Thank you to everyone who attended our first Update and Input Gathering last week and for the Parent Ambassador Team for hosting it. President Joe Therber and I discussed topics of importance to parents. It was a chance for you to hear directly from us and to tell us what was on your mind. Thanks for your attention and your thoughtful questions.

     We aim to keep you informed about what’s going on at Scecina, and so we hope to schedule more sessions in the future.

    Among the topics we discussed at last week’s session were the current or upcoming medical and maternity absences of four teachers; Scecina’s College and Life Preparation; and Scecina’s Decade of Success.

    Four teachers are taking extended leaves of absence for medical or maternity reasons. We have well-qualified substitutes who will aptly fill in.

    Dr. Charles Sinclair, who formerly taught science at Scecina, has been subbing for science teacher Sarah Smith, who is on medical leave.

    PE and government teacher Ott Hurrle is out for knee surgery. His sub is Noah Carpenter, who has the subject level knowledge and is a certified personal trainer. 

    Deanna Dean, who has been a youth minister, is filling in for Catholic theology teacher Margaret Zeh Fulford, who is going on maternity leave.

    Social studies teacher Nikki Rosswurm will start maternity leave around the first week of April and we have several candidates who can teach her classes. We will keep you updated.

    Regarding College and Life Preparation, I shared that the school is exploring the possibility of providing each student with his or her own computer, which is called 1:1 Technology. The parents in attendance were overwhelmingly in support of 1:1 Technology. The school has not committed yet to 1:1 Technology for various reasons, but we will certainly keep you updated about the plans.

    President Therber spoke about Scecina’s Decade of Success as the foundation for a future capital campaign for Scecina. His information is very important for the future of the school and will be the topic of his message to you in next week’s edition of The Weekly. So stay tuned.

    Again, thanks to all who came, especially to the Parent Ambassador Team for planning the evening and for the snacks, and also to Mrs. Angie Wilson for leading us in the prayer. If you missed the Update and Input session, we hope you can make the next one. We’ll let you know when we schedule it. I hope to see you there! 

    Principal Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D. 

  • The seriousness of sexting

    Whenever teenagers have access to a cellular phone, sexting could become a problem, without the right type of communication between a teenager and parent or guardian. Before communicating about the consequences and ramifications of sexting with your teenager, you may need answers to some basic questions. What is sexting, how is it transmitted, and is it permanent? Why is sexting serious? What can parents do to prevent sexting?

    What is sexting, how is it transmitted, and is it permanent? 
    Sexting occurs when a person sends partial or fully nude photos of themselves to someone else. Teens usually use their cellular phones to take the picture. The person texting can choose how they want to send their pictures. Snapchat is a popular app some teenagers use to send pictures because they believe the photo disappears; or does it. The person receiving the sexting can take a screenshot of the picture and send it to others, increasing the likelihood it is permanent. 

    Why is sexting serious? 
    When teens sext, often they do not think about the consequences or ramifications of their actions. The police and prosecutors consider the person sexting as possessing and distributing child porn. If convicted of sexting, registering as a sex offender is a likely consequence. Other ramifications of this type of action: depression, anxiety, fear of going to school, loss of self-esteem, and more. It is evident that sexting can have serious consequences and cause harm. 

    What can parents do to prevent sexting? 
    Communicating with your teenager about the consequences and ramifications associated with sexting is the best way to prevent it. Provide your teenager with articles about the seriousness of sexting. The more teenagers know about sexting, the less likely they are to do it. 

  • Help your child prepare for Finals Week


    Thank you for working with us to aid in the education of your children. 

    As final exams begin next week, I would like to discuss: 

    • Exam dates 
    • The benefits of a good night’s rest and breakfast on academic performance, and the value of being at school and on time
    • A fresh start with the second semester. 

    Finals. Our first final is on Monday, December 18 (click here for the exam schedule). Students take their first and second-period exams. Third and Fourth-period exams take place on Tuesday, December 19. On Wednesday, December 20, students take their fifth- and sixth-period exams with an early dismissal at 11:30 a.m. Finally, on Thursday, December 21, students take their seventh- and eight-period exams with an early dismissal at 10:40 a.m. Once final exams are over, Christmas break begins with students returning on Monday, January 8. 

    Sleep and nutrition. Children need a minimum of eight hours sleep to improve academic performance. The researchers at Sleep Medicine reported that “sleep efficiency” is a powerful predictor of learning and academic success, especially in mathematics and languages. Research on the relationship between breakfast and academic performance indicates it improves cognitive functions. A good breakfast helps to enhance memory and neural efficiency along with a reduction in absenteeism and tardiness. Scecina even provides breakfast before school! 

    Second semester. The new semester, which begins Jan. 8, provides a fresh start for students. Research shows that good attendance enhances educational achievement. Attendance at school every day helps students develop a high quality work ethic that is important to success in college and the workforce. 

    In conclusion, please continue to reinforce our efforts at school to enhance your child’s academic performance by ensuring a good night’s sleep, the importance of breakfast, and the benefits of being at school every day. 


    Dr. Joe Brettnacher

  • You can help your child succeed at school


    I want to thank you for entrusting us with the education of your children. Students are midway into the second quarter. Progress report night is Thursday, November 16, at 5:00 p.m. in the cafeteria. 

    First semester exams begin on Monday, December 18. In preparation for those exams, there are four methods to help your student(s) maximize their grades: 1) Use class time wisely, 2) make sure they complete their homework, 3) stay organized, and 4) take good care of themselves. 

    First, encourage your student to use class time wisely. Tell them they can master any course content. Encourage them to participate in class. Check to make sure they take good class notes. Explain the importance of being attentive in class. Finally, if they need help, have them take advantage of the scheduled times teachers are available to help. 

    Second, when your student gets home, make sure he or she does homework right away. Have them sit and do their homework in a quiet place where you see them do it. For every hour of study, they should take a 10- to 15-minute break to keep their minds alert. When reading students should take notes or highlight major concepts. Last, forming a study group can help them teach each other and remain focused. 

    Third, help your students to stay organized. Have them use a computer, notebook, or folder to keep class materials separate for each subject. Check their Crusader Daily Planner to see if they write down dates when assignments/projects are due along with upcoming quizzes or tests. Using the planner effectively helps to reduce procrastination and cramming for tests. 

    Last, make sure your student takes good care of themselves. They need to eat breakfast and nutritious meals. Students need to get plenty of sleep; eight hours is optimal. Staying active by exercising, playing a sport or joining a club helps to keep the mind and body fresh. 

    By working together, we can help our students to live up to their God-given ability! 

  • Students' safety is top priority at Scecina

    One of Scecina Memorial High School’s current initiatives is continuous safety improvement because this is a top priority. While we have a comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan, we continuously evaluate and update it. 

    Our safety team consists of 20 members covering a wide array of expertise (i.e., President, Principal, Director of Guidance, Academic Advisor, Guidance Administrative Assistant, Business Teacher, Director of Academic Success Center, Campus Minister, Master Teacher, Vice President of Advancement, Athletic Director, Director of Marketing Communications, College and Career Counselor, Dean of Students, Facilities Manager, Assistant Director of Facilities, Receptionist, and Social Worker). It is important to have many different perspectives when continually assessing an array of crises’. Our safety team will meet with first responders too. At our upcoming meeting, we will learn about the Five Preparedness Missions: 1) Prevention, 2) Mitigation, 3) Protection, 4) Response, and 5) Recovery. I will provide brief definitions of these missions based what happens before, during, and after a crisis. Please note that several of these preparedness states do overlap (i.e., while we plan how to mitigate the loss of life before a crisis, during one, we assess, based on the situation, the best way to this). 

    Before a crisis, the team works on Prevention, Mitigation, and Protection. Prevention involves capabilities necessary to avoid, deter, or stop an imminent crime or threatened or actual mass casualty incident. Mitigation involves ways to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and property damage by lessening the impact of an event or emergency. Finally, Protection identifies the capabilities necessary to stabilize an emergency once it has already happened or is certain to happen in a unpreventable way. 

    Response activities occur during a crisis. Response means the capabilities necessary to stabilize an emergency once it has already happened or is certain to happen in a unpreventable way. 

    Recovery occurs after a crisis. Recovery provides guidance on how to assist schools affected by an event or emergency in restoring the learning environment. 

    Please be assured that our team continuously assess and updates our Emergency Operation Plan. 

  • Students inspired by lessons of servant leadership

    Look around Scecina Memorial High School, and you will "Discover Opportunities." I had one of those opportunities when I was invited by the Key Club to talk about a passion of mine, servant-leadership (see photo below). 

    This past Tuesday, I talked to 30-plus students about the topic, and they did a great job of interacting with me to define, in their terms, what they believed is servant-leadership. I affirmed their definitions. Then I indicated that the ultimate servant-leader, Jesus Christ, defined the term best. Jesus wrote, "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:26–28). 

    Next, I read a couple of my favorite passages from the Bible about servant-leadership and then moved on to contemporary servant-leaders. 

    Contemporary servant-leadership was popularized by Robert Greenleaf, in his book "The Servant-Leader Within: A Transformative Path" (2003). Greenleaf believed that a servant-leader is a servant first and out of that service comes a natural desire to lead. He talked about the "Best Test" to determine if one had become a servant-leader when he wrote, "… do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants" (p. 13). 

    From there, it was a natural progression to interact with students about our contemporary example of a true servant-leader, Father Thomas Scecina, for whom our school is named. When I asked one of the students to tell the story of Father Scecina, he said, "Father Thomas Scecina, as a prisoner of war, laid down his life serving others. As friendly fire sank the Japanese prisoner of warship he was on, he remained to administer the last rights to the other prisoners." 

    I explained that one does not have to lay down his or her life to become a servant-leader, it develops gradually. Also, I acknowledged they were servant-leaders by being members of the Key Club. 

    The Key Club is an international student-led organization that provides its members with opportunities to serve, builds character, and develops leadership. One way to "Discover the Opportunities" at the school is to join the Key Club! 

    Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D.

  • Scecina students grow academically and spiritually

    Dear parents,

    The Indiana Department of Education (DOE) tracks how each school’s students have grown from one year to the next in comparison to their peers across the state. I am proud to report that the DOE announcement of school accountability ratings this past week showed that Scecina Memorial High School once again earned a letter grade of A for academic performance and growth. Indiana’s Growth Model tracks students’ academic progress from one school year to the next using standardized test scores. Based on multiple measures of academic performance and growth, including college and career readiness, our school’s overall points totaled 93.2, an A rating.

    As important as academic growth is, that is not the reason for our school, it is Jesus Christ. The following quote from an anonymous source says it best: “Let it be known to all who enter here that Jesus Christ is the reason for this school, the unseen but ever-present teacher in all its classes, the model of its faculty, and the inspiration for its students.” Jesus Christ is what sets us apart from public schools.

    Our public school counterparts are unable to allow their students to practice their faith on a daily basis. This daily practice allows us to provide our students with a holistic approach to education.

    Our teachers challenge their students to excel spiritually, intellectually, physically, and socially. All four of these characteristics is important to the ultimate goal of Catholic education. That goal “… is to form boys and girls who will be good citizens of this world, loving God and neighbor and enriching society with the leaven of the Gospel, and who will also be citizens of the world to come, thus fulfilling their destiny to become saints” (Gravissimum Educationis, 8, [Second Vatican Council]).

    Of course, none of this is possible without the collaboration we have with you, parents and guardians, to provide your children with an excellent education rooted in Gospel values.

    Thank you for allowing us to take part in this awesome responsibility!

    Dr. Joe Brettnacher

  • Late arrival days serve larger purpose


    I wanted to explain about the five remaining late arrival dates for the first semester:

    • Thursday, September 28
    • Monday, October 9
    • Monday, October 30
    • Monday, November 20
    • Monday, December 11

    On these dates, doors open at 8:30 a.m., classes begin at 9:30, and school ends at 3:09 p.m. On October 9, Scecina Memorial High School has its annual Service and College visit day. The other four dates are for teacher professional development. I want to explain to you the reasons for these delayed starts.

    On October 9, ninth-graders and sophomores (underclassmen) will do community service, and juniors and seniors (upperclassmen) will achieve academic formation by visiting colleges. Some of the underclassmen service opportunities include doing work for the St. Vincent de Paul Society and several East Deanery parishes.

    Upperclassmen will experience academic formation when the seniors visit the college or university of their choices and juniors will take tours of Indiana, Marian, and Taylor universities.

    Service and academic formation is, in the words of Pope Francis, part of the “integral formation of the human person, both given his own ultimate goal and for the good of society of which he is a member.” Both the service and academic formation is part teaching students how to use their knowledge for the good of society.

    The other four dates (September 28, October 30, November 20, December 11) involve teacher professional development on how to use a Learning Management System (LMS). LMS software allows for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and delivery of educational courses or training programs.

    Teachers are using a software called Canvas to support PowerSchool, our LMS system. Canvas is a software package that provides a way to simplify teaching and learning by connecting all the digital tools teachers use in one easy place. Teachers will learn how to use best technology practices, so they can personalize and customize what is happening in their subject areas to meet the individual needs of our students.

    These five late arrival dates will help broaden the spiritual and intellectual horizons of our students. Also, they will provide our teachers with the professional development they need to use technology as accelerators to enhance student learning.

    You remain in my thoughts and prayers!

    Dr. Joe Brettnacher

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