St. Louis U. High welcomed five visitors to campus this week for the Jesuit Sponsorship Review. The Sponsorship Review is conducted every six years, and is intended to help schools identify strengths and areas for growth as part of the renewal of their Jesuit accreditation.
The team was comprised of the Rev. Ray Guiao, S.J, President of St. Ignatius in Cleveland; the Rev. John Nugent, S.J., Principal of Arrupe Jesuit in Denver; Trip Norkus, Assistant Principal for Academics at Strake Jesuit in Houston; Ron Rebore, the leader of the team and the Provincial’s Assistant for Secondary Education (PASE); and Ken Luecke, the Associate PASE.
Guided by a self-study narrative written by Review Chair Steve Missey and his Steering Committee, the team spent two and a half days meeting with stakeholders from across the community.
To be able to make their observations about SLUH, the team met with many people around the school to get as full a look at SLUH as possible. During Tuesday’s activity period, the team met with several students from different clubs and organizations in the Innovation Lab to better understand the SLUH student experience.
The team also met with the chair of each of the five domain groups—Jesuit and Catholic Identity, Governance and Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Educational Excellence, and Faith That Does Justice—to talk about their specific areas.
“We were able to give our point of view and talk about the data we gathered and what that showed us and why we felt like technology was something we want to get a deeper grasp on,” said social studies teacher Kevin Foy, the leader of the Educational Excellence domain.
After the early dismissal on Wednesday, the team presented its initial report to the faculty. The team first named the strengths they observed during the visit, which included the depth of the faith components of the community, SLUH’s strong sense of Jesuit and Catholic Identity, and faith formation. Other strengths noted were the well-developed academic institution, many engaging co-curriculars, and impactful relationships between students and adults.
The Sponsorship Team also noted the dedication and passion from teachers and a vibrant student engagement as strengths they observed vibrant student engagement as strenghts they observed.
“Our team was thrilled to learn about the vibrant student engagement at SLUH. It was great to see so many students involved in a wide variety of co-curriculars. Clearly those experiences are profoundly meaningful and create opoortunities for significant personal growth,” said the Rev. John Nugent, S.J.
The team also complimented the many levels of leadership from both students and teachers and the overall spiritual formation of the community.
“The visiting team was deeply impressed by our commitment to academic excellence and service in all of its forms,” said Principal Ian Gibbons, S.J. “The group found our formation for religious and justice capacities to be stellar.”
The next focus of the report was the areas for growth. The three major areas suggested by the Self-Study were the Spiritual Exercises, the use of technology, and the well-being of the student body. The team identified a need for a wider appreciation, and opportunity for the Spiritual Exercises.
When it came to technology, the team noticed a lack of organization, policy, and vision for the use of technology in the classroom. SLUH is still relatively new to a one-to-one technology environment in the classroom, so questions are still being answered in terms of how to best utilize the technology for both the students and teachers. Rebore cited inconsistency as a key area of weakness.
“In the classroom, teachers use technology in different ways. So the key thing here is it’s not consistent. Another reason why it’s not consistent is freshman and sophomores have iPads and then juniors can bring their own devices, so there’s not a commonality with instructional devices that are not required for all four years,” said Rebore.
Rebore also mentioned the lack of formal training available for teachers on how they can use technology in their classroom—at least recently. Back in 2015 when one-to-one technology arrived, there was formal training available for teachers and students, but lately that has not been available.
For the student well-being area, the team observed the level of unhealthy stress students faced, the high number of time commitments, social media, GPAs, and college acceptances.
“(Students) have so many things they’re doing and they want to do well in all of them, and the curriculum is hard and there is an expectation to score high on your ACT or SAT, so there’s a lot of kids that are working hard there, and that’s a positive,” said Rebore.
“I think the common consensus is that on any given day or night, there’s a lot of stress and anxiety, but that’s a part of being involved in so many things,” said senior Peter Curdt.
“We noted the reality many students face of being over extended and perhaps needing to scale back on their various commitments. Sadly, these students seem to easily sacrafice time that might otherwise be spent with family, and personal reflection, or even sleeping,” said Nugent.
Now that the visit has concluded, it will take roughly six weeks for the final, official report to come out. SLUH will have its Jesuit accreditation renewed during next year’s Mass of the Holy Spirit.
The Sponsorship Review continues the accreditation process at SLUH. Last spring, SLUH had an accredited visit by AdvancED focused on the whole academic and secular aspects of the schools. AdvancED is not affiliated with the Jesuits.
According to SLUH President Alan Carruthers, the Sponsorship Review is a way SLUH can use key aspects of the Jesuit mission to continue to improve as a school.
“I think it’s a really important part of our Ignatian heritage, where we should constantly be involved in this process of action, reflection, evaluation,” said Carruthers. “It is a cycle of continuous change and improvement that keeps our schools vibrant and committed to excellence, and I think this is a piece of that really important process.”
SLUH participated in the annual Drive for the Homeless this week, an event that collects blankets, gloves, scarves, and more in order to help the homeless throughout the winter.
St. Louis U. High students and their mothers gathered to celebrate one another and give thanks at the Mother-Son Brunch and Mass hosted by the Mothers’ Club last Sunday.
As kids in the United States awaken this morning from their candy-induced exhaustion, the people of Mexico and of Mexican heritage are busy preparing for Día de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. This year, St. Louis U. High is acknowledging this important part of Hispanic culture through morning prayer services and its own memorial devoted to those who have passed on.
Kathy Hylla now has competition for the crown of Queen of the Commons, as a new painting of a Madonna as arrived.
Twenty Jr. Bills at St. Louis U. High auditioned for the St. Louis City/St. Charles County District concert and jazz bands Monday night at SLUH. Of the 20 who auditioned, six were selected for concert band and two were selected for jazz band.
SLUH band director Jeff Pottinger said the auditions are used to single out the best musicians in the district.