Sacred Heart’s Valkyrie
is more than a mascot
When thinking of a Sacred Heart Academy senior, you likely picture an esteemed young woman prepared for whatever the big world may throw at her.
Coming in as an eighth-grader, that transformation seems light-years away. I can tell you from experience, that four years goes by way faster than a naive eighth-grader may think and the change that occurs is nothing you can really imagine.
Walking through the doors on Lexington Road as a freshman, a student learns that her mascot is a Valkyrie — simply defined as a strong woman of great faith. But, over her four years at Sacred Heart, she comes to understand that the Valkyrie represents much more than just a high school mascot.
It is an identity that she will embody in her pursuit of education, leadership and service to her community.
Sacred Heart Academy teaches students that a Valkyrie becomes engaged in her school and community in ways that interest her as an individual. Students are encouraged to step outside their comfort zone and try new things, which is why they see tremendous growth during their four years.
In the classroom, the faculty teaches with passion and pushes students to be the best versions of themselves. But the faculty is equally as engaged in the lives of their students outside of the school building.
Between the homemade brownies, paper clip and sticker incentives and attendance at competitions, games and productions, it’s easy to see that the faculty supports each Valkyrie as a whole person, not just as a student.
The culture created by the faculty allows students to evolve and achieve more than they ever thought possible.
Students learn that a Valkyrie is expected to be a role model who upholds Sacred Heart’s four core values: community, reverence, service and leadership.
As freshmen, students focus on community by getting to know their peers through a wide variety of activities both inside and outside the classroom.
Sacred Heart ensures that freshmen can ease into the unfamiliar setting by pairing them with upper-level students to mentor and guide them.
As sophomores, students learn the core value of reverence as they are charged with the responsibility of being role models for the incoming freshman.
They are still learning but also teaching the importance of respect for the culture of Sacred Heart.
During junior year, students focus on the core value of service and truly grasp the definition of servant leadership. At Sacred Heart, servant leadership is practiced by every student, not because it is forced, but because students are taught how to reach into the community and serve in ways they are passionate about.
Lastly, as seniors, students are encouraged to take the leadership of the school into their own hands. These young women are tasked with serving as leaders and models to the underclasswomen and making each year better than the last.
At the end of a student’s four years at Sacred Heart, she learns that a Valkyrie is not just a mascot, it is what she has become — a strong woman of great faith. And the best part is that it looks different for each person. Sacred Heart Academy teaches its students that being a Valkyrie is what you make of it.
Sacred Heart: Foundation for success
Many happy memories are created when people gather around tables to enjoy food, conversation and laughter. At the end of the gathering, bonds are strengthened. As I face the end of my high school years at Sacred Heart Academy, I am reminded of the deep roots of the family table.
Regardless of the table’s material, the source of its strength begins with the legs. Four legs provide balance and stability. Much like a table’s necessity for four legs, a well-balanced life also requires a foundational support system. Sacred Heart’s four core values of community, reverence, service and leadership provide the foundation for success in high school and beyond.
The first core value — community — is introduced during freshman year. Valkyries are encouraged to get to know one another, taking into account shared values while also respecting others’ differences.
This sense of community can be seen at all sporting events. Although not all students are athletes, we come together in support to cheer on our fellow Valkyries.
The student body is made up of extraordinary performing artists, scholars, artists and peers active in politics. We are not all the same. But, we lift each other up. That is the SHA community.
Even though I missed the year that focused on community due to transferring in as a sophomore, it was everywhere. The transition to belonging was quick and real.
Sophomore year is dedicated to exploring reverence. By definition, reverence means to deeply respect something. Beyond definition, however, SHA urges its students to consider where this respect originates — love.
Even the school song states, “Dear Sacred Heart, school of my heart.” This phrase could not be more perfect as it emphasizes the heart. By extension, love flows through each classroom and person.
SHA is rooted in a loving environment for learning. It is the reason many students, including me, choose to attend. Aside from excellent teachers and a rich curriculum, however, there is an atmosphere of mutual curiosity and respect. We do not all learn the same way, but when everyone starts from a place of love real learning occurs.
During junior year, students are exposed to the third core value — service. Specifically, we are encouraged to embrace service to others. COVID-19 had not disappeared which made active service a bit more challenging than in years past. However, because of SHA’s International Baccalaureate educational focus, we were prepared to consider service from a broad perspective.
Classmates became involved in service projects designed to combat COVID-19 and its impact. Fellow Valkyrie Jacqueline Teague received an international award in honor of Princess Diana for working with her cousin to set up a service during the pandemic to help people make COVID-19 vaccination appointments online. Their service to others made every Valkyrie extremely proud.
Everything learned up to this point culminates in learning about the final core value of leadership. Through a variety of unique experiences, including the Jean Frazier Leadership Institute, we learn that we are all capable of taking on leadership roles through conscious actions and words.
For me and several classmates pursuing the IB Diploma Programme, service and leadership came together when planning our IB CAS projects. We all worked hard and felt an enormous sense of accomplishment to have such a positive impact on those around us and we could not have done it without the foundation of the core values.
Our SHA family table is strong. Because of the foundation we developed at SHA, we will continue to be leaders who engage in service to others in communities near and far, rooted in a place of reverence and love.
Valkyries live out core values
Sacred Heart Academy is more than a school; it is a way of life. Each day that a SHA student steps on campus, she has the opportunity to learn something new about herself.
A Sacred Heart student can share her vocal talents at the freshmen rose ceremony, score the winning basket at a state championship game or obtain the highest score at a Governor’s Cup competition.
Through all these experiences, a Sacred Heart student will build relationships with her teachers, coaches and administrators, who will guide her on her journey of self-discovery.
Every Valkyrie will discover they live their life as a strong woman of great faith throughout their four years at SHA.
Valkyries serve their community by tutoring struggling students, repairing homes for those living in poverty and making blankets for dogs in shelters.
Valkyries are also leaders who develop their leadership skills through the Jean Frazier Leadership Institute. With these skills, students can advocate for change in their community, inspire their teammates as captains and make the school a better place as student council officers.
Sacred Heart students are proud to be Valkyries and are confident in taking the next step in their journeys.
Every Sacred Heart student is resilient. They fail and try again. Over time, Valkyries learn from these experiences and become more independent.
However, they also know when to ask for help.
Sacred Heart students appreciate their mentors guiding them through the steps to apply for the Governor’s Scholars program, helping them through the athletic recruitment process or encouraging them to pursue their academic goals.
The environment at SHA fosters perseverance and students continue to apply for the next job, scholarship or internship.
The class of 2022 and every Sacred Heart student, is blessed to attend a Catholic school where community, reverence, service and leadership are valued.
Each member of the class of 2022 has not only received an education from Sacred Heart but also has learned how to live her life as a strong woman of great faith in the future.