By John Seward, principal/ SUN contributing writer
Committed to Excellence
ENDICOTT — The Our Lady of Sorrows-Seton Campus School is housed in an unassuming 1960’s vintage building. This building sits in the middle of an equally unassuming neighborhood in the village of Endicott, N.Y. But, as we’ve all been told, looks can be deceiving. Over the past three years, Our Lady of Sorrows-Seton Campus School has been one of the highest performing schools in the Southern Tier and across New York State. In 2004, our 4th graders were the second highest performing school on the Math assessment category in New York State, with over 95% of the students scoring at level 4. In 2004, our 8th graders had the highest percentage of passing and they placed level 4 on the English Language Arts assessment in the Southern Tier.
In addition to our outstanding academic achievements, the students from our school have also distinguished themselves in extracurricular activities. Our Odyssey of the Mind team took first place in regional competition, and competed in the World Finals in 2004. Our Stock Market Team achieved 1st and 2nd place positions in 2000 through 2003. Students from our school raised $3,024 through their participation in the St. Jude’s Math-a-thon in 2004.
How does a school with fewer than 200 students achieve such heights? The answer lies in a commitment to excellence that is shared by parents, students, teachers, administrators, and support staff. We hold ourselves to high standards, but we also recognize that sometimes we all need help reaching those standards. To encourage all of our students to reach their full potential, we offer a wide range of remedial and enrichment programs.
Even though we are a small school, we offer a wide range of educational opportunities. Our students study Spanish at the beginning at the kindergarten level. We offer a physical education program for students in grades pre-k to 8th grade. Our existing accelerated math program for students in grades 7 and 8 will be expanded during the 2005- 2006 school year to include an accelerated math program for 6th graders. Everyone involved with the school takes pride and responsibility for the successes we have enjoyed. This commitment to excellence has continued even as the school underwent a change in one-third of its teaching staff at the end of the 2003-2004 school year (including its principal). The commitment continues!
Of faith and school
Recently, public schools have discovered the value of Character Education programs. Teachers, parents, and students at Catholic schools have known this all along. At Our Lady of Sorrows-Seton Campus we recently conducted a survey of parental attitudes about why they send their children to our school. More than 90% of the responses indicated that the faith based emphasis at the school was a factor in selecting our school, and an equally high number of responses noted the monthly Masses as something they liked best about the school.
Thanks to the efforts of members of our Liturgy Planning Committee once a month, we turn our gymnasium into a chapel where members of our school community gather to celebrate our faith. Mrs. Allore works with members from a class to organize the readings and develop a particular theme for the Mass. In November the 6th grade class organized a food collection that was distributed to needy families in two rural area churches. Mrs. Kuklis and Mrs. Meyers organize our music. Father John Putano, of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Vestal, is our celebrant. To quote an old saying: “Character is how you act when no one is looking.” At our Lady of Sorrows-Seton Campus, we build character whether someone is looking or not.
Technology in the classroom
Our campus has two computer labs. Students in kindergarten through 8th grade have facilities targeted to their specific needs. Thanks in large part to IBM Matching Grants, the middle school lab has 20 workstations, and the elementary lab has 15 work stations. The EK students have an IBM Young Explorer workstation in their classroom. Both the middle school, elementary school and libraries have internet accessible workstations for student and faculty use. The school also has its own server. Beginning in 3rd grade, students in the school build electronic portfolios.
During this current school year we introduced wireless laptop computers to our existing technology infrastructure. Teachers will now be able to bring the computer lab to their students to do additional research and class projects. The wireless technology will also be used by teachers for development of projects with other schools across the region and across the country. We are all excited about the many potential uses for our expanded technology resources.
Looking to the future
When the doors to our school first opened in 1957, the size of the building and the number of students attending were only half the current size. Forty- eight years and four name changes later, we continue the commitment to intellectual and spiritual growth that motivated the early students and faculty in this building. We look to the future with the same eager anticipation for growth that first turned this unassuming building in its unassuming neighborhood, into an extraordinary school community. Come watch us grow!
In the spotlight of success at Our Lady of Sorrows-Seton Campus
This past fall, Grace Morrissey, a sixth student at our school, attended the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. While at the conference, Grace worked with other young leaders from around the country to study the lessons from past and present world leaders. She also attended a Congressional breakfast and toured Capital Hill.
Lisa Il Grande, a seventh grader at our school, is a rising musical talent at Our Lady of Sorrows-Seton Campus. This year, Lisa auditioned for, and was accepted into, the Tri-Cities Opera Children’s Chorus. She was accepted to sing in their two operas of Pagliacci, and Sour Angelica at the Forum, with 14 other students. Lisa sang at the latest Christmas concert. She sang “O Night Divine” and was one of the brightest stars in the concert. Lisa sings with the Our Lady Of Good Counsel Folk Group. Lisa is also a cantor for our monthly school-wide Masses.