Schools of the Sacred Heart is located in Grand Coteau, LA, just 12 miles north of Lafayette. Two schools rich in an educational tradition over 200 years old that is shared by more than 130 Sacred Heart schools in 31 countries, the Academy of the Sacred Heart, the girls' school, and Berchmans Academy of the Sacred Heart, the boys' school, are known for providing a strong academic program in an environment that develops each student spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically.
While Schools of the Sacred Heart is steeped in the tradition of the education established by St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, the foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart, it is known for being a pioneer as an educational institution. Begun in 1821 with five students and two Religious of the Sacred Heart in a small farm house, the Academy of the Sacred Heart has continued to grow and to be innovative in its approach to the education of students. In 2006 believing that young men from Acadiana could flourish in a single-gender environment characterized by the mission of Sacred Heart, the Board of Trustees committed itself to the establishment of a boys' school, PreK3-12, Berchmans Academy of the Sacred Heart. This pioneer spirit that continually looks towards the future needs of students is a hallmark of Sacred Heart. In the house journal, a record of events and reflections kept by the religious, one finds these words "Foreseeing the future, we believed it our duty to instruct our children and to initiate them into the new situation which Providence was preparing for them. (1862)."
Being a part of a national and international network of Sacred Heart schools allows students to participate in a variety of student exchanges and enhances the college acceptance process. Each year, several students choose to study for a period of time at one of the other 21 Sacred Heart schools in the United States or at a Sacred Heart school abroad. Students from other U.S. and international Sacred Heart schools often choose to attend school in Grand Coteau and to either live in the school's residential facilities or with a host family. Each summer, some students choose to participate in service opportunities for Sacred Heart students in the U.S. or in the annual mission trip to Nicaragua which is a cooperative effort of the Sacred Heart schools in Grand Coteau and New Orleans. With an international boarding school, Sacred Heart currently has students or exchange students from 13 nationalities.
A unique facet of belonging to the Network of Sacred Heart Schools in the United States is the greater visibility provided the school among colleges and universities. Admissions officers around the country are keenly aware of the high academic standards of Sacred Heart schools because of experiences with one or more of these schools. This reputation of Sacred Heart schools provides an advantage to students from the Academy of the Sacred Heart and Berchmans Academy who are applying for college.
When classes began at Schools of the Sacred Heart this year, students returned to their beautiful campus nestled behind oaks and pines in Grand Coteau, as students have done for 192 years. However, they returned to a new configuration of the two schools in which 7th and 8th grades are now part of the upper school of the Academy and of Berchmans. Previously, each school operated with three divisions, a primary school (PreK 3 - Grade 4), a prep school (Grades 5-8) and an upper school (Grades 9-12). Now, each school is operating with a lower school (PreK3 to Grade 6) and upper school (Grades 7-12). When asked about the reasons for the new configuration of grades, Sr. Lynne Lieux, RSCJ, Headmistress, explained that there were a variety of reasons for the change. First and foremost, she said were the educational benefits to the 7th and 8th graders. By being in the upper school, these students are now on the same block schedule that the older students have been on for several years. The block schedule, in which students have four 80-minute academic classes on one day and a different four the following day, allows students to explore topics at greater depth because of the daily increase in time on task. Additionally, there are some significant changes to these students' curriculum in that high school foreign language classes are now beginning at Grade 7 and all students, Grades 7-9, are taking a new computer applications class which allows them to become Microsoft Office certified and to obtain 3 college credits for the course. All foreign language students, from the primary school through 12th grade, have access to the Rosetta Stone language program. Students can use Rosetta Stone as a supplement to their current language study or to pursue a language of their choice, such as Mandarin, as an independent study course. Sr. Lieux also explained that with the changes to the curriculum, a student currently in the 7th grade could possibly enter 9th grade with 4 1/2 of his or her high school credits completed allowing for room in later years to take more rigorous courses. Another change that has occurred because of Grades 7 and 8 joining the Upper School is that Sacred Heart has now expanded its one-to-one Tablet PC programs to include these grades. All Upper School students at Sacred Heart have their own Tablet PCs to use exclusively at school. Sr. Lieux also commented that in the past the 7th and 8th graders (the I and II Scholastics) have expressed a desire for more responsibility and greater freedom. While these students do not have all the privileges of the Academics (Grades 9-12), they are enjoying opportunities to make choices for their own learning and the use of free time and to interact with the older students.
Once again, Schools of the Sacred Heart has illustrated its commitment to forge new frontiers in order to best meet the needs of its students. It is not surprising that the school's mission statement is "to make the future noble by forming the minds and hearts of young people in a challenging and innovative academic environment that reflects the aims and ideals of the Sacred Heart." Sacred Heart is deeply committed to entering its third century of education rooted in its rich educational tradition, but with a pioneer spirit that looks to the needs of future generations of students.