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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!

Words that Challenge and Inspire

Next week, JPII will hold the fourth Induction Ceremonies of the Our Lady, Star of the Sea Chapter of the National Honor Society. With this event, we strive for a thoughtful exercise not only meaningful for those inducted and their families but meaningful for all students, staff, and guests. To accomplish this, we seek guest speakers from the larger community whose seriousness of purpose and engagement with the issues of the day provide good example and can challenge and inspire students and staff. Last year’s speaker was Mr. Paul Niedzwiecki, Executive Director of the Cape Cod Commission.

This year, we are pleased to welcome Dr. Francesco Cesareo, Ph.D, President of Assumption College (Worcester, Mass.). Dr. Cesareo will share perspective on liberal education, serious Catholic intellectual life, and authentic living.

Read Mr. Keavy’s 2011 remarks.

This event is open to the public. Please consider joining us on Thursday, January 10 at 10 AM.

JPII Lyceum?

It’s been a long-time desire of mine to teach philosophy since taking my Master’s degree in the subject from Boston College. This current year, with the addition of Introduction to Western Philosophy to the JPII curriculum, I get my chance and am having a blast.

The value of philosophy was reinforced at a forum on education recently sponsored by the Community Leadership Institute. Three school leaders, Maureen Brenner from Riverview School, Eric Heiser from Sturgis Charter Public School, and myself, presented about our schools, personal histories, and views on leadership. Turns out that philosophy, whether in the form of high school level courses such as ours or the personal histories of the presenters, became a recurring theme and a subject of dialogue amongst us. This is further evidence that the habits of thinking and speaking so important to philosophy can reap life-long rewards and animate our adults lives no matter our work area. Here’s hoping that more and more JPII seniors tackle this challenging and rewarding activity.

Check out a sample reading from Introduction to Western Philosophy.