Eighth Graders Plan Next Steps

October 14, 2013

Though graduation is months away, 8th graders have already spent significant time preparing for their journeys to high school. Several new resources were put in place this year to strengthen students’ applications and guide families through the daunting school selection process. Test prep courses, after-school activities and a Secondary School Advisor are all available to support eighth graders as they prepare for life beyond Sacred Heart.

In response to growing parent interest, Sacred Heart reintroduced prep courses for the Test for Admissions into Catholic High Schools (TACHS) this year. Students who signed up for the program received six weeks of Saturday test preparation at the school. The three-hour sessions were taught by four tutors, allowing for small groups and individualized lessons. TACHS was held on November 8th, and we look forward to reviewing the results and using them as part of our measuring student achievement efforts.

While test scores are important, high schools look for students who also demonstrate interests outside of the classroom and have earned leadership opportunities. In an effort to make Sacred Heart students competitive applicants, all 8th graders are required to attend after-school programming on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Each day their time is split into an hour of tutoring and an hour of enrichment activities. Students were invited to rank their interest in art, theater, chess, Science Dissection Lab and Kids in the Game and were placed in programs that best matched. Tyalle H. loves going to Science Dissection Club each week: “We get to do things that I never thought we would be able to do in school. We got to dissect a pig heart and a starfish by ourselves!”

An important addition to the Sacred Heart staff is its Secondary School Advisor, Ms. Alexis Suib. Ms. Suib’s role is to educate and empower students to consider, apply to and attend a wide range of high schools that could offer a strong match for each students’ achievements, interests and potential. She works directly with the students and parents to help them navigate the myriad of available options. In addition, she organized a high school fair held at Sacred Heart in September with 20 admission and school representatives to kick off the application season. Ms. Suib divides her time with with Our Lady Queen of Angels School, a Partnership school in Harlem.

Eighth grader Maajeek F. has big plans for her future and says that Ms. Suib has helped her stay on the right track. Aiming to enter a performing arts high school next fall, Maajeek had to sort through a variety of applications and register for specialized exams. “Ms. Suib made the process easier for me by explaining what I needed to do for admissions. I know I can go to her anytime with questions and she will help me,” she said.

Though Sacred Heart traditionally has a consistent high school placement record, we are confident that Ms. Suib will create a secondary advising program that exposes our students to the wealth of options in our city and can be replicated at other Partnership schools.