The Catholic School Difference

The Wall Street Journal

A new study shows the benefit of demanding student self-discipline.

Students cheer for preschoolers during the annual Preschool Kentucky Derby at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bowling Green, Ky., May 4.
Students cheer for preschoolers during the annual Preschool Kentucky Derby at St. Joseph Catholic School in Bowling Green, Ky., May 4. PHOTO: BAC TOTRONG/DAILY NEWS VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS
For the thousands of nuns who have served as principals at Catholic schools, their emphasis on self-discipline must seem like common sense. But a new academic study confirms the sisters are on to something: You can instill self-discipline in students, a virtue that will help them in their studies and later in life.

The study was conducted for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute by University of California-Santa Barbara associate professor Michael Gottfried and doctoral student Jacob Kirksey. The authors analyzed two waves of national data on elementary school students collected under the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study for the National Center for Education Statistics. They compared children in Catholic schools with those in public schools and other private schools, religious and secular.

The authors found statistically meaningful evidence that students in Catholic schools exhibited less disruptive behavior than their counterparts in other schools. “According to their teachers, Catholic school children argued, fought, got angry, acted impulsively, and disturbed ongoing activities less frequently,” the authors write. Specifically, students in Catholic schools “were more likely to control their temper, respect others’ property, accept their fellow students’ ideas, and handle peer pressure.” In other words, they exhibited more self-discipline.

The authors concede their findings aren’t causal, meaning there might be unobservable differences between students in different schools that account for the striking differences they have found. But the correlation is strong between the focus that Catholic schools put on self-discipline and better student behavior. We also know that, especially in urban areas, black and Latino students who attend Catholic schools show higher achievement, higher graduation rates and higher college enrollment than those at nearby public schools.

At a time when the different suspension rates between minority and non-minority students has become a toxic debate, the authors offer three key judgments:

First: “Schools that value and focus on self discipline will likely do a better job of fostering it in children.” If other schools “took self discipline as seriously as Catholic schools do, they wouldn’t have to spend as much time, energy and political capital on penalizing students” for bad behavior.

Second: “Assuming that these results reflect a ‘Catholic Schools Effect,’ other schools might consider both explicit and implicit methods to replicate it.” The report notes that some “no excuses” charter schools are already doing this, through the curriculum or the way students interact with adults and teachers who model self-discipline themselves.

Third: “Don’t underestimate the power of religion to positively influence a child’s behavior.” Religion isn’t the only way to foster self-discipline, the authors emphasize, but it’s effective compared to most of the alternatives in channeling youthful energy into productive self-control.

Though the authors offer no easy prescriptions, they do say it is a “tragedy for the nation” that so many Catholic schools continue to close when they are most needed. Their lessons are worth preserving.

CSH Sr. Mary Grace Henry Named World of Children Award Winner

Reverse The Course

Youth Award –
2014
Africa

“Educating a girl can reverse the course of her life and change the course of a community …and a country.”

Educating Girls to Change the World

At the age of 12, Mary Grace Henry became determined to change the life of an underprivileged girl by funding her education. She started sewing headbands that she first sold at her school’s bookstore, using 100% of the profits to help girls living in extreme poverty attend school. Her program,Reverse The Course, has since grown into a successful social business model that is unique for a child of her age.

To date, she has sold over 11,000 hair accessories and funded the education of girls in Kenya, Uganda, Paraguay and Haiti who, without her support, would not have been able to attend school. Funding from World of Children Award will support Reverse The Course’s mission to provide education for disenfranchised girls and to develop business training and mentoring programs for girls, empowering them to become agents of positive change in their societies.

 

The College Twitter Happiness Index can help students

The Washington Post

Here’s an interesting Washington Post opinion piece from CSH Jr. Grace Isford, a former CSH Middle School student!

By Grace Isford, Published: December 27

Grace Isford is a high school junior in Greenwich, Conn.

The college hype machine is overwhelming. So I decided to bypass the sugar-coated information of tour guides, review books and even adults seeking to help — and instead harness social media to slice through the conventional wisdom.

As a tour guide at my high school, I know that tours convey only surface information.Adults exacerbate the problem by telling students which schools are best despite having limited information and relying primarily on institutions’ reputations. And books on collegesuse simplistic labels such as “party” or “suicide” schools, catch-all terms that attract or deter students for the wrong reasons.

Twitter is a good way to get a sense of what the general public thinks about a particular topic. So I searched tweets about a number of well-known schools and divided the results into three general categories: positive, negative and neutral.

The six schools I chose to study — not necessarily ones to which I plan to apply next year — range from large state schools to private research universities. Many have entrenched reputations that veer to extremes.

The results were surprising.

To tabulate my College Twitter Happiness Index, I compiled a pool of 100 unique tweets from public personal accounts mentioning each university. To calculate the percentage of happy students at a college, I added positive tweets, subtracted negative ones and discounted neutral tweets.

There is, to be certain, a subjective element in determining whether a particular tweet is positive or negative. But Twitter is not a medium known for subtlety, and the distinctions usually are clear.

The University of Chicago is often said to be a school “where fun goes to die.” Yet my College Twitter Happiness Index registered 70 percent happy for the university. As one University of Chicago student wrote, “I am seriously so in-love with this school. #UChicago.” I found a similarly unexpected outcome at Cornell University, which has a reputation for exceedingly pressured students and was the subject of media attention in 2010 for student suicides. Yet my calculations pegged the school’s happiness index at a robust 58 percent. My calculations for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a school often stereotyped to have a less-than-vibrant social life, found the student happiness index to be 67 percent. Party on!

Conversely, universities with reputations for being “party schools” seemed to produce unhappier students. For example, the University of Southern California , where students bask in the Golden State sun, came in at 46 percent. One USC student tweeted, “So much studying #USC #Stressed.” Similarly, the University of Colorado had a 43 percent happiness index. And by my calculations, the University of Florida, a.k.a. Party Central, had a happiness index of only 39 percent.

Perhaps the University of Chicago, the place where fun supposedly goes to die, actually creates a much happier environment than do party schools such as USC or Florida. Students who attend the University of Chicago may be happier because they work harder at engaging subjects, or perhaps many of them merely use Twitter as a means of positive expression.

Whatever the reason for the disparities between public perceptions of colleges and the reality on campus, prospective students ought to be careful. Teenagers shouldn’t let the influence of the college hype machine dictate where they apply because a school cannot be accurately assessed from tour guides, rankings and know-it-all adults. It’s better to make decisions based on where students actually are happiest.

I’m only one high school student, but tools such as my College Twitter Happiness Index are a way to cut through the clutter.

GirlRising shown at Sacred Heart Greenwich, Thursday May 16

Gallery

8th grader, Chloe Frelinghuysen, as part of her Making History project, is pleased to invite you to a limited release screening of the exceptional film: GirlRISING EDUCATE GIRLS, CHANGE THE WORLD  a powerful, uplifting film Thursday, May 16th, 7pm Convent of … Continue reading

Sacred Heart Greenwich Sophomore Named 1 of Westchester County’s Best and Brightest Business Minds and Innovators for her Philanthropic Work

Here’s an article about Sacred Heart Sophomore Mary Grace Henry.  Mary Grace honed her philanthropic organization through her 8th grade “Making History” project.

Wunderkinds 2013: Mary Grace Henry, 16

Founder, Reverse the Course

BY ALYSON KRUEGER // PHOTO BY DARRYL ESTRINE PUBLISHED APRIL 26, 2013 AT 02:59 PM

In addition to playing two sports, completing her homework, thinking about college, and socializing with her friends, Mary Grace Henry, a 16-year-old high school sophomore who lives in Harrison, runs Reverse the Course (RTC), a successful international nonprofit organization that she founded in 2008. RTC sells reversible headbands to raise money to send girls living in impoverished countries to school.

 
From a young age, Henry was aware that girls in other countries did not have the same opportunities she did. Her school, the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, Connecticut, had a sister school in Uganda that they raised money for through jump-rope competitions and penny wars. But she was not happy with just supporting one school; she wanted to find a way to send more girls to school so they “could be in control of their own lives” and “give back to their communities.”

 
After attending a headband-making class in 2008, Henry knew she had found her revenue source. She asked her parents for a sewing machine and quickly made 50 headbands to sell in her school’s bookstore. They sold out quickly, and she started selling more in boutiques, at sidewalk sales, and at craft fairs across Westchester. By 2010, she had raised enough money to send two girls to school in Uganda. Now, she has raised enough (more than $35,000) to send 32 girls in Uganda, Kenya, Paraguay, and Haiti to school for at least two years. (RTC also works with the girls individually to determine which institution they should attend.)

 
“It’s kind of shocking to think that I’ve lived on Earth for about 16 years, and I’ve sponsored 75 years” in tuition, she says.

 
Organizations such as Pencil for Hope, the Philanthropic Educational Organization, and the Girl Scouts have recognized Henry’s success and have asked her to speak at their events. She also received the Richard A. Berman Leadership Award for Human Rights from the Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center. But Henry knows her work is far from over. Her short-term goal is to sponsor 100 girls, and, in the long term, she hopes to keep the organization up and running as she graduates high school and goes to college to study business or journalism.

 
“I think that for the rest of my life,” Henry says, “I will in some way be connected to this organization.”

 
► For more 2013 Wunderkinds, click here.

Sacred Heart Greenwich Summer Enrichment Program

Our Summer Enrichment Program is offered to girls entering grades Preschool – Grade 12 in the fall. It provides students with engaging, hands-on learning experiences and offers a wide variety of options to choose from. Our goal is to stimulate curiosity and open young hearts and minds. Our learning sessions are all participatory and allow for creativity and collaborative work.

We offer programs in the following areas: music, dance, drama, athletics, arts & crafts, chess, vocabulary, creativity, yoga, fitness, Native American history, mosaics, clay, French language and culture, swimming, broadcast journalism, labyrinth design, computer programming, crochet, photography, journalism, field hockey, tennis, fun with DNA, canning and jam making, cooking, quilting, watercolors, robotics, soccer, basketball, astronomy, musical theater, lacrosse, volleyball, intro to the Middle School, creative writing, forensic DNA science, poverty – awareness and action, shadow a professional, non-fiction writing, service learning trip to Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, online PSAT prep, online English.

5th Graders Tour Mars

Convent of the Sacred Heart fifth graders are taking a virtual tour of Mars as they build a rover and design a system to land the rover on another planet.

NASA Project Gives Students Virtual Tour of Mars

By Sean Cavanagh on December 11, 2012 2:10 PM

The Curiosity, an SUV-size vehicle, is roving the surface of Mars, collecting information on soil, rocks, and other data that scientists hope will enhance their understanding of the red planet.

Soon, students from across the country will be roving, virtually, right along with it.

Beginning Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 1 p.m., Eastern time, a trio of organizations will be hosting a “virtual field trip” to Mars, which will give students and teachers detailed information on the rover’s mission and its work. The virtual program, titled “Journey to the Extreme: Your V.I.P. Pass to Mars,” also will be archived for schools’ future use, for those who miss the initial launch.

The program will include information presented by scientists and engineers who have worked on the rover project, including Leland Melvin, NASA associate administrator for education and an astronaut, and Dave Lavery, program executive for NASA’s solar system exploration and the Curiosity’s mission.
Mars_240.jpg

The project is a joint effort of the i.am.angel foundation, NASA, and Discovery Education. (The i.am.angel foundation was launched by will.i.am, a founding member of the musical group the Black Eyed Peas.) The virtual trip is part of an overall, five-year project called i.am.STEAM, meant to engage and inspire students through interactive projects to consider “STEAM”-related fields—or those focused on science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math.

The virtual program’s primary audience is students in grades 3-12, with a focus on middle school, Discovery officials say. While the event can be used in the classroom, they note that the archive will allow students, families, and other school officials to return to the resource after the event. Pre-virtual trip activities, which are aligned with academic standards, are available for download on www.iamsteam.com.

Photo of the surface of Mars courtesy of NASA.

Sacred Heart Partners With Renowned Cold Spring Harbor Lab

From Greenwich Time:

 

Natalie Ponce, of Port Chester, N.Y., and Caitlan Fealing, 15, of Stamford, look at worms in an microscope during Dr. Bruce Nash, of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, meets with Upper School classes to discuss gene therapy at Convent of the Sacred Heart on Monday, October 15, 2012. Convent of the Sacred Heart is the third school, and the first Connecticut-based school, to become a charter member of the Cold Spring Harbor genetics lab. Photo: Helen Neafsey / Greenwich Time

 

There were more to the tiny worms that Convent of the Sacred Heart sophomores saw through microscopes than meets the eye.

On Monday, the students, part of the school’s science research program, were introduced to C. elegans, a worm used to study gene regulation and function. The students learned about how the worms formed the basis for cutting-edge research into aging and even cancer.

The lesson, given by visiting scientist Bruce Nash, kicked off a partnership between Sacred Heart and the world-renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory‘s DNA Learning Center. The laboratory, across the Sound on Long Island, N.Y., was once run by James Watson, who, with Francis Crick discovered the double helix structure of DNA.

Sacred Heart is the first Connecticut school to become a charter member of the DNA Learning Center, joining The Chapin School and Trinity School in New York City.

Each student in the science research program works for three years on an independent project. Through the partnership, students interested in exploring genetics will have the opportunity to visit the laboratory as they work on projects.

“So many of them want to go into the medical field, and several of them mentioned genetics,” said Mary Musolino, director of the Upper School’s science research program. “That’s why it’s such a perfect fit.”

The charter membership also includes opportunities for field trips to the lab, as well as summer enrichment programs. The charter membership, which costs $25,000, was made possible by gifts from the school’s Parents’ Association and by the family of Indra Nooyi.

Through the partnership, Middle and Upper School students will receive instruction from the laboratory’s scientists, as the sophomores did Monday. Nash discussed C. elegans, which he referred to as “sort of like the fruit fly of the worm world” and which have cells that behave similarly to human cells.

The students examined petri dishes of regular worms and worms with genetic mutations through microscopes. Nash explained that in research, genes of the worm have been changed, extending their lives of just a few days by 15 times.

Sophomore Lily Pillari said she became interested in genetics after reading articles to help her come up with an idea for her research project.

“It was very informative,” Pillari, 15, said of the inaugural lesson with Nash.

Pillari’s classmate, Mo Narasimhan, said she hopes to one day study the role of genetics in mental disorders, such as anorexia.

“I’d done a little bit of reading on Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, but today’s discussion was very interesting,” said Narasimhan, 16.

Nash, co-author of the textbook “Genome Science,” mainly works with high school and undergraduate students doing independent research projects, and teaches labs and lectures to students, as well as instructors.

“I think they’re great because we can give a more direct link between the students and what researchers do,” Nash said of the partnerships between schools and the lab. “It gives students a good chance at actually doing some science and doing science with tools researchers are currently using.”

lisa.chamoff@scni.com; 203-625-4439; http://twitter.com/lchamoff

Read more: http://www.greenwichtime.com/news/article/Sacred-Heart-partners-with-renowned-N-Y-lab-3950947.php#ixzz29laTLI8j

REACH Prep Luncheon

I had the great honor of attending yesterday’s REACH Prep benefit luncheon.  See below for REACH Prep’s mission statement:

“REACH Prep helps motivated and talented Black and Latino students from low to moderate income families gain admission to and thrive in competitive independent schools in Fairfield and Westchester Counties and The Bronx. Upon placement, students benefit from an eight-year educational continuum–including comprehensive academic enrichment, leadership training and supplementary individual and family guidance–which prepares them to succeed at competitive colleges.”

REACH Prep scholars are chosen from a large pool of applicants; chosen participants participate in an intensive fifteen-month program including two six-week summer sessions and Saturday classes throughout the school year.  There is no fee for partipation in the program as all expenses are covered through individual and corporate donations. 

Sacred Heart, one of the founding members of REACH Prep, is one of twenty-five independent schools that supports the program.  We currently have four REACH Prep scholars in the Middle School and look forward to having two more girls join us for the 2012-2013 school year.  Yesterday’s luncheon featured information on the accomplishments of previous REACH Prep scholars and served as a great reminder of our call to provide a quality education for all children.  It also reminded me of Sacred Heart foundress Sr. Sophie Barat’s words: “I would have founded the society for the sake of a single child.”

For more information, or to support REACH Prep, visit their website.

FYI: Sacred Heart also support students from Prep for Prep and A Better Chance.