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Summer Letter from the Head of School

Posted: 7/15/2016

July 15, 2016
Feast of St. Bonaventure

Dear Holy Spirit Prep family,

Our students make me very proud each summer when they take the lessons of formation they learn at HSP and put them into action.

In June, Fr. Juan led a team primarily of HSP boys on a mission trip to the outskirts of Cancun, Mexico. They spent their time at an assisted living center caring for its elderly residents. They returned to the village where, last year, they laid the foundation for a chapel for the village residents. This year, they finished the walls of the chapel and made friends with the children who came to watch them work.

Each summer, we send a team of students and teachers from our St. Joseph's Cohort apostolate to Whitley City, Kentucky, one of the most impoverished and remote regions of the country. They bring supplies to restock outreach pantries and food banks, and partner with local families to repair and rehab their homes. This year our students, led by Pete Radosta, Dave Labbe, Beth Van de Voorde, Bianca Hall, and Scott Harrison, helped add an extension to an elderly couple's modest home, making room for the grandchildren that live with them.

Last summer, our SJC students became friends with a family while they helped build a clubhouse for their sons. This summer, they reunited with that family to build a play house for their three young daughters. The team reports it was incredibly meaningful for our students to see the progress the family has made since last summer.

I'm very proud of the service work our St. Joseph's Cohort accomplishes both here in Atlanta and in Kentucky. With SJC leading the charge, Holy Spirit Prep has committed to being one of the lead sponsors for Atlanta Habitat for Humanity's 2016 Pope Francis Build. As part of our commitment, our school will host one of the build's seven work days, on Saturday, September 24, sending 40 volunteers (age 16 or older) to work on a Habitat house. Our ONE apostolate will provide lunches for our volunteers. If you'd like to be one of our volunteers that day, you can sign up here.

Our faculty and staff, some of the most talented educators in the nation, avidly embrace and seek out opportunities to hone their professional talents. This summer, they have continued their tradition of professional development, and I wanted to highlight just some of the opportunities they have undertaken:

  • I was humbled to present at the Napa Institute's 6th Annual Conference last week, alongside Catholic giants like Timothy Cardinal Dolan and Dr. Scott Hahn. I spoke to Catholic leaders across the country on "A New Model of Education: Why America Needs Independent Catholic Schools," citing our school as a model for forming students into faithful servant-leaders.
  • Jocelyn Sotomayor and John Angelle attended an ISM conference on developing faculty culture and the positive impact a strong faculty culture has on students.
  • Peter Schultz and Linda Anthony are attending an ISM conference on faculty evaluation, growth, and renewal.
  • Karyn Vickery and Pete Radosta are both completing Masters degrees.
  • Members of our Preschool faculty will attend “Find Joy in the Journey Summer Institute Workshop,” an early childhood conference hosted by the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
  • Bianca Hall, Sofia Munoz, and Illya Gonzalez attended an SAIS training for independent school teachers.

These professional development opportunities are made possible by our community's support of the Spring Gala, which raised over $270,000 this year for professional development and scholarship opportunities for our faculty and their families. Mark it in your calendar now: our 2017 Spring Gala will be held on Saturday, April 29th, at the Mason Art Gallery.

Last year's Annual Fund raised over $460,000 benefitting our school's operations and programs, and this summer we have put some of those funds to constructive use:

  • replacing the aging HVAC tower at the Lower School
  • installing new carpet in the Reese Memorial library at the Upper School, designed by rising senior Andi Rozzelle, who won a national design award for her concept. Her design will be in Home Depot stores this fall!
  • expanding the Lower School's faculty lounge to be more usable

In addition, thanks to a grant from American Global Logistics (the Briles family), the Lower School is developing a teaching garden in the courtyard, and plan for our students to grow herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

I am grateful to our PVA, the Durham family, and the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia, who with their gifts made it possible for us to sign the paperwork on a new bus.

We'll have a number of great events for our parents and for our families this year. Each grade will host a parent party this fall, for you to meet and reunite with other parents. Save the date for:

Preschool: Saturday, October 22nd
K/Pre-1st Grade: Friday, September 9th
1st Grade: Friday, September 23rd
2nd Grade: Saturday, September 24th
3rd Grade: Saturday, October 15th
4th Grade: TBD
5th/6th Grade: TBD
7th Grade: Saturday, September 10th
8th Grade: Saturday, September 17th
9th–12th Grade: Friday, September 9th

We also hope to see you at our All-School Masses, scheduled for:
Friday, September 23rd
Tuesday, November 1st
Monday, January 30th
Wednesday, May 17th

We are unique as a school in that we integrate Mass into the daily life of our school, and encourage our families to be a part of our Mass celebrations. I hope you'll join us for one of our regular Masses, whether it's one of the Preschool's two annual Masses at Thanksgiving and Easter, daily Mass at 8:15am at the Lower School, or the Upper School's weekly Mass at 10:15am on Wednesdays.

Following my letter today, the principals will be sending a summer letter to families of each campus. I hope you’ll take a moment to read through these important letters, which outline updates at each campus, back-to-school checklists, information about handbooks and uniforms, and notes about the first week of school and the days leading up to it.

We are poised for excellent school year, one in which we expect to see continued transformative experiences for our students at every level as we strive to form them into faith-filled, magnanimous young men and women poised for a lifetime of happiness and joy.

Yours in service,