The Scecina Tradition - Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School

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The Scecina Tradition - Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School

October 25, 2010

Dear Friends,

Now that classes have been in session for a full quarter, I would like to give you a State of the School report.

The letter that follows is lengthier than most communications that you will receive from us because of the

amount of positive news to share, so please read to the end!

The Scecina Tradition

As we opened the new year, my thoughts turned again to the debt of gratitude that we owe to many prior leaders

in our faith community. In August, after 46 years of ministry at Scecina Memorial High School, Sister Lavonne

Long, O. S. F., moved to the motherhouse of the Sisters of Saint Francis in Oldenburg, Indiana.

When my wife and I visited with Sister in her apartment on campus the night before her move, she reminded us

that, “This is just ‘see you later’, not goodbye.” I am deeply grateful to Sister Lavonne for her lifelong witness

of faith, compassion, and humility.

During the past summer, we bid farewell to Mr. Mark Steinmetz after his 39-year teaching career at Scecina

Memorial High School. At the Legends dinner in June, Mr. Steinmetz presented to the audience of more than

200 people his actual first teaching contract. When I realized that Mark’s intent was to signify his and other

teachers’ commitment to students and passion for teaching, rather than to request ‘back pay’ for receiving a

Catholic school teacher’s salary for more than half his life, I breathed much easier.

Later in June, Mr. Ken Leffler was inducted posthumously into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame because of

the respect he gained through football victories and teaching lifelong values and skills through the game of

football. Mr. Leffler’s wife, Toni, and their four children received the award on Mr. Leffler’s behalf. Many

attendees commented that Mrs. Leffler gave a wonderful speech and that her presence made all the difference.

And so we began the 2010 – 2011 school year a slightly different community than we were just a few short

months before. Yet our purpose is even more important than ever before because of the challenges and

opportunities that are available to the youth of our society today.

College and Life Preparation

To speak to the college and life preparatory aspect of our mission, as you have probably heard many times by

now, the Class of 2010 earned $5.4 million in college or university scholarship and grant offers last year, for an

average of $68,000 per senior.

The Class of 2010 was admitted into an elite group of colleges and universities: The University of Notre Dame,

Xavier University, Marquette University, Dayton University, DePauw University, Indiana University, Saint-

Mary-of-the-Woods College, Wabash College, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Marian University,

Marietta College, Hanover College, Herron School of Art, Purdue University, Ball State University, Saint

Joseph’s College, University of Indianapolis, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, Franklin

College, Wittenberg College, Butler University, Anderson University, and Bellarmine University.

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We have dual college credit relationships with Butler University, Marian University, and IUPUI; and 40 percent

of the Class of 2010 earned college-level credit through one or more Advanced Placement exams. In total last

year, 14 of our students, including several current students, attained the distinction of being named an Advanced

Placement Scholar by performing at college level on three or more Advanced Placement exams.

In the midst of these successes, 95 percent of our students are involved in at least one, and often as many as four

or five, of our nearly 40 co-curricular programs such as athletics, student government, the arts, and clubs that

match a student’s particular talents and interests.

As important as college preparation and co-curricular involvement are, answering the Gospel call to service is

equally important. Our students last year volunteered more than 8,000 hours of service to 21 local

organizations through our “Extra” Service program named after Father Scecina’s motto of “giving that little

extra.”

Enrollment

We started the first day of classes with 342 students, including a freshman class of 93. The freshmen are the

largest class in the school. 72 of them are already participating in the interscholastic athletic program or another

co-curricular area this early in the school year.

Two years ago, a forecasting committee compiled data on enrollment trends and actual enrollments in local

elementary schools. The data indicated that we might open the current school year with 317 students. As you

can see, our actual opening enrollment of 342 students is 25 students higher than was anticipated, furthering our

optimism in the future.

We must also acknowledge the vast economic need that many of our families have, meaning that an increase in

enrollment does not always generate a corresponding increase in tuition revenue. Therefore, while enrollment

is trending in the desired direction, we must still practice excellent stewardship of human, financial, and

material resources in order to deliver our ministry effectively.

Finances

During the last several years, the school has experienced financial difficulties, some of which were caused by

economic factors. During the 2009 – 2010 year, however, we took a very important step in the right direction.

We attained a hard-earned financial operating surplus while simultaneously delivering a wide range of valuable

programs and services to students.

This noteworthy accomplishment is attributable to the talents and efforts of many people. Our staff of

administrators, teachers, coaches, and support staff displayed an excellent commitment to financial

responsibility and collaboration to make sure that we, as a school, not just a series of individual departments,

did better than attain a deficit or break-even financial position.

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An instrumental factor in our school’s effectiveness is our faithful and generous benefactors, who provided

more annual financial support during the 2009 – 2010 year than ever before. We also are very grateful to our

students’ parents for their faithfulness in making tuition payments at various levels according to ability, and to

all archdiocesan parishes in our metropolitan area for their extremely generous support of Catholic secondary

education.

You might have noticed by now that we are utilizing electronic communications more than ever before. We

have several reasons for moving in this direction. Responsible stewardship of resources is the driving influence.

When we send a mailing to all enrolled school families, the cost on average is approximately $400 (sometimes

more, depending on the amount of paper involved). Thus, communicating more by e-mail to parents and

alumni will save more than a few thousand dollars per year, which we must do in order to sustain and expand

the programs and services that we provide to and for our students. If you received this communication in print,

it may be because we do not have a current e-mail address on file for you. If you would like to receive

communication from us electronically, please contact Gia Spaulding in the Advancement Office (317.356.6377

ext. 1308) to update your information.

Vision and Strategic Plan

To reflect our commitment to shaping an even more vibrant future, our Board of Directors has formally

established a Strategic Planning Committee of the Board with the aim of launching a community-wide planning

process during the coming year. Many aspects of a strong and vibrant school are definitely in place, and we

must begin to identify and explore new opportunities to differentiate ourselves, add meaningful value to the

community, share resources responsibly, and prepare students to be servant-leaders for life. I am convinced that

a new vision reflecting these goals and sustaining our current strengths will carry Scecina to a future that will

make us shine city-wide like the beacon on a hilltop that we are meant to be.

Please look for more information on this very important subject in the months ahead.

School Staff

Our students returned after the summer to meet several new faces among our teaching and administrative staff.

This group of professionals is fitting in quite well to our school culture, and they hold great promise for

educating our students today and in the future. Their credentials are excellent, their spirit vibrant, and their

professionalism strong. They are teaching our students in the areas of mathematics, biology, social studies,

English, and French.

One new educator whom I wish to mention specifically because of the importance of college preparation is our

certified new Guidance Director, Ms. Michelle Woodward. Ms. Woodward has already jumped in with both

feet and hosted a well-attended College Planning Night for junior and senior students.

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As responsible stewards of resources, we are sharing two staff positions with Bishop Chatard High School. One

is our librarian, Sister Sheila Hackett, O.P. Sister Sheila is sharing her time evenly with each school. On many

days, an experienced volunteer staffs our library to assist Sister Sheila. In addition, Sister Sheila will soon be

moving into the Saint Francis Hall apartment that Sister Lavonne formerly occupied.

In addition, we are sharing a certified physical strength and conditioning coach with Bishop Chatard High

School. Mr. Todd Leone, who has an Indiana University degree in kinesiology and is an alumnus of Bishop

Chatard, is teaching 3 advanced physical education classes at Scecina each day and will develop sport-specific

strength and conditioning programs for many of our athletic teams. A group of generous benefactors who

believe in the value of physically fit students and athletes is helping to make this initiative possible.

Student Life

Our administration realizes that a significant number of our students have multiple commitments in and outside

of the school day. Therefore, we have built a new activity period into the school day on a once-per-week basis.

On Fridays, co-curricular activities have a 39-minute meeting period in the morning on a rotating basis.

Students who are not involved in the activities that meet during a particular activity period in a given week have

supervised study time during this period. For example, this past Friday, October 22, the Guitar Club, Right to

Life, Brain Game, and Forensics Clubs met. Students in these programs met with their staff moderator during

the activity period, and other students engaged in supervised study time in a classroom.

We believe that this step will help to reduce (though perhaps not yet eliminate) early morning activity meetings

that became too frequent through the years because of our students’ involvement in classes, sports, cocurriculars,

and part-time jobs. This enhancement is one of many that have resulted from the Limited

Institutional Review process that we undertook in early 2009 and that has become the core of our current School

Improvement Plan.

Capital Improvements

The capital improvement that we completed over the summer was a series of visual and safety improvements to

our parking lot. The parking lot covers a healthy portion of our 11.5 acre campus. Thanks again to responsible

stewardship of resources and the generosity of our families, donors, and other partners, we widened the east

entry to the school, added a sidewalk for safety purposes, leveled several uneven spots, improved the lot

drainage, and added surface coatings and new striping for ample parking spaces for students, staff, and visitors,

including guests who need handicap parking.

Currently, we are raising funds for our next planned capital improvement. This upgrade will be the renovation

of our science laboratory, which will significantly enhance the environment for lab experiments in chemistry,

biology, and physics. As we move further into the process of raising funds, we will announce when this project

will be completed.

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Advancement

Thank you to all those who attended the Evening of Sharing event on October 7 in the Scecina gymnasium and

to everyone who has supported us financially this year. This annual event raises funds for our Giving Back,

Looking Forward annual fund, and it provided an opportunity to recognize three immensely successful Scecina

alumni for their career achievements and long-standing support of our school. Our honorees this year are Pat

Conroy, Class of 1978 and Vice Chairman and U.S. Consumer Products leader at Deloitte LLP; Gregg Dwyer,

Class of 1961 and former Vice President and General Counsel of Duracell International; and Kevin Farrell,

Class of 1965 and partner in the law firm Cline Farrell Christie Lee & Caress, P.C.

We have significantly upgraded the quality and appearance of publications such as the Father Scecina Magazine

and student recruitment materials. Initial feedback has frequently been quite positive, which we appreciate.

Our school website (www. scecina.org) has been completely redesigned. This improvement was long overdue,

and we appreciate your forbearance during the re-design process that was led by our Advancement Department

and Scecina student interns. We plan to expand and improve the website on a steady basis, so please send us

your comments and suggestions.

The electronic Daily Announcements have also been updated to a more reader-friendly format. The conclusion

of electronic announcements every day has links to websites that pertain to Catholic news and information as

well as prayers and reflections for spiritual renewal. We hope that you will explore these resourceful sites.

Conclusion

Fulfilling the mission of Catholic high school education is not necessarily an easy task these days. The benefits

and rewards, however, are endless, and the mandate of the Gospel calls us to this endeavor.

Thank you for choosing and believing in Scecina Memorial High School. Please continue to be unwavering in

your support, and let us know how you would like to be involved.

Sincerely yours,

Joseph S. Therber

President

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