When you picture a Sacred Heart Academy student, the image of a well-rounded, involved, motivated teenager comes to mind. This is someone who plays a sport, takes challenging academic courses, sings in the choir, does service on the weekend and is involved in student leadership that meets before the first bell of the school day even rings.
Naturally, when you picture this modern high school student, it can seem as if their lives are all over the place as they jump from activity to activity. So what is it that truly unites these students in one common bond? This is where group assignments, school Masses and service hours all have one thing in common: the environment they foster where lifelong friendships are made.
The moment a teacher announces a group project where the partners will be assigned, the inevitable sense of slight dread sets in. “Will the partners get along?” and “Will everyone do their fair share of work?” are often thoughts running through students’ minds at this time. And while people may face new challenges with a sense of apprehension and nervousness, these unexpected changes may actually bring about a much-needed rearrangement.
If it were not for a class of seven students who were ready to be intellectually challenged and one teacher who could see the potential in all of them, seven strangers would never have worked as team, laughed to the point of tears, shared personal stories and grown together as a unit like they did. The combination of a group who formerly would never have chosen to work together produced a team of girls who could trust, inspire and support each other in and out of the classroom.
In a gymnasium full of girls singing along softly to the hymns of the school Mass, it is clear someone has found a friend when both students can sing out in their full voices without wondering if one of them is off pitch or in a completely different key. And while singing at Mass may seem like a trivial activity to bond over, it is one that leaves a longer-standing impression than expected.
It is easy to find other students who share an interest in their faith and religion at a Catholic school. This commonality unites students in a way that goes beyond what grade school they went to, what neighborhood they live in or what table they sit at in the cafeteria. Finding people who value their moral character and put compassion first leaves room in a friendship for nothing but authenticity, loyalty and respect.
Lastly, in a world where students’ lives are so fast-paced and never seem to slow down, service opportunities allow for a vital pause in the daily chaos. The time students spend leading exercise classes in retirement homes, planting trees around the city or hosting Special Olympics tournaments results in more than just a signature on a service hour sheet. This is time where students use their own talents to bond with others around them, whether that is people they are serving or those with which they are doing the service.
Sacred Heart pushes students to seek out service organizations that will inspire them, challenge them and most importantly, teach them to love and appreciate others. Finding a friendship in someone who also does service guarantees a relationship where responsibility, patience and kindness are always present.
Amongst the busy days and long nights of a high school student, there is one unchanging factor that unites students together: friendships. The friendships made at Sacred Heart Academy will last long after students walk through those halls for the very last time.