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Academics

Results Are In

The College Board recently released final performance results from the SAT for the class of 2019. Again this year, JPII’s Class of 2019 outperformed national averages and Massachusetts averages. This continues a trend that JPII students have achieved since 2014.

While numbers don’t tell the whole story, they matter. We’ll keep focusing our efforts on maximizing each and every student’s college opportunities, including their numbers. Beyond this, current seniors (Class of 2020) took the SAT in October, during the school day, and at school expense. Of the 66 seniors who tested, 50 improved their scores. No doubt that the comfort, convenience, and familiarity of school-day testing aided in these gains.

This is Fun

Often, my 45-minute daily sliver of teaching Introduction to Western Philosophy is the high point of the day. This year, an especially small (five-person!), talented class allows us to push further into primary sources. Recently, I asked for their intellectual interests, in the form of “Fill in the blank: I’m interested in the philosophy of…” Students came through with some cool answers.

I then selected primary source readings that each student will read and discuss with me, then present in seminar discussion for their peers. These are no easy readings, as you can see:

  • Sleep: Aristotle’s On Dreams (350 BCE)
  • Mathematics: Whitehead and Russell, Principia Mathematica (1910) [excerpts]
  • Perception and Reality: Bishop Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge (1710) [excerpts]
  • Freedom: Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism (1946)
  • Artificial Intelligence: Alan Turing, Computer Machinery and Intelligence (1950)

Reading and student-led discussions will take place weekly through December. This is fun!

 

 

By the Numbers

Our academic mission is college preparation, college admission, and college success. So, we watch the numbers.

The College Board recently released final performance results from the SAT for the class of 2018. Nationwide, students improved their scores relative to results from 2017. Looking locally, JPII’s Class of 2018 outperformed national averages, Massachusetts averages, and the mean scores for our Diocesan Catholic high schools. The Class of 2018 continued a trend that JPII students have achieved since 2014.

Beyond this, current seniors (Class of 2019) took the SAT in October at school, during the school day, and at school expense. Of the 64 seniors who tested, 50 improved their scores.  I believe the comfort, convenience, and familiarity of school-day testing aided in these gains.

While numbers don’t tell the whole story, they matter. We’ll keep focusing our efforts on maximizing each and every student’s college opportunities, including their numbers.

 

 

Can We Go Back to College?

TED Talks. Hamilton. Podcasts. “One-day” universities. More and more, adults are looking for college learning opportunities amidst their busy lives. Maybe we see the opportunities our college-age sons and daughters enjoy, yearn for the intellectual stimulation of the campus environment, or realize the banality of much of our digital consumption. There’s a way to fix that.

Annually, the Notre Dame Club of Cape Cod and the school have sponsored the Hesburgh Lecture Series, which brings Notre Dame professors to Hyannis for a community lecture. This year, Walter J. Nicgorski, Ph.D., presents The American Constitutional Tradition: Historic Strengths and Current Challenges. Prof. Nicgorski will explore five challenges to the present American political order — the apparent erosion of the moral foundations, the tension between liberty and security, the threat to religious liberty, the shadow of globalization, and the economic “crisis” of our time.

Why not come out for some intellectual nourishment?

How many Cape graduates head to college?

So asked the Cape Cod Times this past Sunday (“Tech grads eyed to meet local demands,” page 1). Frequently, when the Cape Cod Times publishes Cape-wide education stories, private schools are not included in the conversation (e.g., “What’s new for Cape students,” 9/3/17).

St. John Paul II High School’s academic mission is college-preparatory. Take a look at JPII’s 2014-2015 data when added to the chart published by the Times:

 

Remember “Staff Picks?”

You might remember visiting your local video store, at a certain point in recent history, where you would find “staff picks” shelves. Whether independent stores, Blockbuster, Hollywood, or some other, staff picks sought to rescue perhaps lesser known, forgotten-yet-favored choices close to (some)one’s heart. Seinfeld even has a staff picks-themed episode.

This year, JPII staff members have been invited to open high school staff meetings with favored verse, in addition to customary prayer. Such verse gives the staff the chance to mull words, to step back from the business of school operations, and to share a bit of ourselves in the reading.

Perhaps you’ll enjoy these selections as well. Here are JPII staff picks, for verse, this year:

August, 2016: Blessings, by Ronald Wallace. Offered by Mr. Keavy. Wry and upbeat way to start the school year.

September, 2016: The Dead of September 11, by Toni Morrison. Offered by Dr. Spadaro.

October, 2016: The Heart of the Teacher, by Parker Palmer. Offered by Dr. Ballou.

November, 2016: The Village Blacksmith, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Offered by Mrs. Hufnagle, in memory of her father.

December, 2016: The Station, by Robert J. Hastings. Offered by Mme. Medeiros, in memory of her brother.

January, 2017: The Benefits of Ignorance, by Hal Sirowicz. Offered by Mr. Keavy. Nothing personal, parents!

March, 2017: Carmen XXII by Gaius Valerius Catullus. Translated from Latin by Ms. Smith.

Not The Whole Story

The following message was sent on Tuesday to the Editors at WickedLocal Cape Cod:
To the Editor:
The following is written in reference to “OUR PICKS: Top SAT Scores on Cape Cod ,” which was posted to Wicked Local Cape Cod on March 19.
 
The post lists what is stated to be the “top high schools on Cape Cod ranked by 2013-2014 SAT scores.” In fact, St. John Paul II High School’s 2013-2014 SAT mean scores total 1661 (Reading=553, Mathematics=553, Writing=555) , which is higher than the high schools listed. It appears that a decision was made to list public high schools only;  however, in fairness to the students and teachers who worked for these results, a complete listing of schools is warranted. 
 
Thank you, 
Christopher W. Keavy
Head of School

 

Catholic Schools: Battle-Tested

Cape Cod presents a competitive educational landscape, and this is a good thing. Public, public charter, vocational, private, and Catholic school options enable families to reflect upon what type of education they truly desire for their children. Aside from school leaders’ occasional sleepless nights, we likely all agree that competition forces our schools to sharpen our missions and be the best at what we say we are.

JPII’s strategy in this challenging environment is to stay true to what Catholic schools have proven to do best. Catholic schools promote academic excellence,inculcate safety, security, respect and accountability, deepen young people’s spiritual lives with authentic Catholic teaching and practice, provide extensive co-curricular opportunities, and form a warm, caring community of students, staff, and families.

I’m reminded of the importance of staying true to Catholic school excellence when reading the April 2013 issue of CAPE Outlook, a national journal published by the Council of American Private Education. Typically, CAPE advocates for independent schools. Yet in their review of the superior graduation rates, college enrollment rates, and college degree acquisition rates that private schools demonstrate over public schools, it becomes clear that Catholic schools emerge superior not only to public schools but other private schools as well in these important indicators.

Read the report.

Catholic schools have proven their value. The right mission, sincerely executed, and in line with years of proven results helps JPII stand out in the Cape’s crowded school landscape.

Roar Lions!