Catholic Schools Week First Place Essay — "Following in Christ's Steps"

Gracie Bartley
Assumption High School

By Gracie Bartley

Assumption High School, Grade 11

I walked up to the main entrance of Assumption where 50 girls stood cheering and clapping to welcome me for my first shadow visit. I was so shy that I kept my head down, but this made it possible for my eyes to catch the words written on the steps in front of me. I didn’t know it at the time, but those words would be the reason that I love Assumption High School.

“Faith guides. Compassion inspires. Integrity matters. Excellence empowers.” These four pillars of Assumption High School’s Mission Statement are proudly written on the main stairs of the school. At Assumption, these four pillars are woven into the daily life of the students and teachers.

Rooted in the values of Christ, Assumption’s first pillar is “Faith Guides.” At Assumption, as in every Catholic school, religion class is an important part of the curriculum from freshman to senior year. Prayer is also the strut to every day, and we have the opportunity to attend Mass and prayer services several times a year as a school.

However, faith is so much more a part of our lives! Assumption is the only school in Louisville that has a Mission Week. During this unique week, seniors are provided the option to go on mission trips throughout the country and internationally, while freshmen, sophomores and juniors are all given the chance to grow in faith through service and learning activities. In addition, Mission Week allows students to learn more about themselves and their community to help them become servant leaders. During the school year, AHS offers all students the opportunity to go on an overnight retreat from freshman to senior year. During this process, a student can grow closer not only to God, but also to one’s classmates.

The second pillar is “Compassion Inspires.” Christ teaches us to love one another, no matter who another person is, where he/she is from, what he/she looks like, or what he/she is going through. Assumption lives out this pillar with a culture of acceptance. Everyone is kind and supportive of one other. No one judges others.

Instead, all are encouraged and aided to find the clubs or activities to meet our interests and talents. Assumption also promotes compassion in our community through a fantastic program for sophomores called ACTS (A Christian Through Service). During ACTS, each student is assigned to a random agency in one of 4 categories: special needs, elderly, elementary school and preschool children, and hospitals. I was paired with Heuser Hearing and Language Academy and worked with hearing-impaired 3-year-olds. I was inspired so much by the experience that it has made me consider becoming a special education teacher.

The third pillar is “Integrity Matters.” Assumption expects everyone to live with integrity. We have a strict policy prohibiting cheating. Assumption encourages every girl to live out her life with honesty and integrity because that is what makes both a good human being and a good life. I have learned that it is better to be honest and get in trouble than to lie, get away with it, and feel guilty.

The final pillar is “Excellence Empowers.” At Assumption, all teachers help empower student success. Teachers will do whatever they can to help each student succeed in the classroom. I am in a program called PSP (Post-Secondary Preparation). PSP is a program for students with learning differences. I have APD, auditory processing disorder, which has made it harder to do well academically.

The faculty, staff and even the students want to help me succeed in school. I used to feel belittled or embarrassed about my learning difference in grade school, but at Assumption, I feel like everyone else. My support team (teachers, counselors, PSP advisor) has made me realize that I am not defined by my learning difference, but rather, I just have to manage how I study and learn in order to succeed.

Eight words, four pillars. These encompass the mission of the school I love. If I would’ve known what those words written on the stairs of Assumption would come to mean to me today, I would’ve chosen AHS at that moment without even walking into the building!

1 Comment

  • Sue Dunne says:

    Gracie, Thanks for your inspiring thughts. Every time I drive by Assumption I’ll try thinking about the school’s pillars – faith, compassion, integrity and excellence. Keep up the good work. Sue Dunne

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