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The Ridge

December 2011

December offers time to reflect on all the good things December is a month when it’s natural to be reflective, especially for a Sacred Heart community. Our founder, Madeleine Sophie Barat, had a unique way of quieting herself in the midst of a tumultuous world (even in the 1800s!) and using spiritual reflection to discover what she was being called to do by the same God who moved her to form the Society of the Sacred Heart. She knew education was a key to success for young women in her world; she also knew infusing an educational program with an integrated spiritual experience would take learning beyond rote routine, books and memorization. For St. Madeleine Sophie, the girls’ education was an experience of God’s love for them, and through the learning process students learned not only about formulas and conjugations, but about themselves and God. And all of this was her passion at a time when educating women was seen as a luxury. While reflecting on all the good things that occur today on our campus, the one of which I am most proud is the attention we give to our mission as lived through the Goals and Criteria. We know that what we do and how we do it prepares our students well for whatever the future holds. We take young girls and form them into women of influence — women who will be called to lead. I see the confidence our graduates exhibit and am reminded constantly that we are held, rightfully, to a high standard. And we should be—since we are privileged to work with and offer this distinctive Sacred Heart education to young girls, each of whom will one day be, in the words of Maya Angelou, a “Phenomenal Woman”—

“ It’s the fire in my eyes, And the flash of my teeth,  The swing in my waist,  And the joy in my feet.  I’m a woman  Phenomenally.  Phenomenal woman,  That’s me.”

Our students have that fire and flash, that swing and joy—and they are phenomenal. They are just what our foundress had hoped for when she launched her enterprise two centuries ago. This holiday season, take some time as a family to reflect on the incredible blessings you have been given and the outstanding opportunities you have been offered. Give thanks for the gifts that are truly meaningful in your lives. I hope our work with your daughters is counted high among those blessings; we certainly consider you and your family a gift to our community. My best to you and your families this blessed time of year. May all faiths come

together and celebrate in the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins:

Of her flesh He took flesh: He does take fresh and fresh, Though much the mystery how, Not flesh but spirit now And makes, O marvellous! New Nazareths in us, Where she shall yet conceive Him, morning, noon, and eve; New Bethlems, and he born There, evening, noon, and morn – Bethlem or Nazareth, Men here may draw like breath More Christ and baffle death; Who, born so, comes to be New self and nobler me In each one and each one More makes, when all is done, Both God’s and Mary’s Son.

Much peace to you and yours!

Mark Pierotti Head of School

The Art of


Dr. Carola D. Wittmann Director of the High School

Communication is an ongoing effort in most organizations and frequently one that leads to passionate discourse, even debate. In a student-centered environment such as the High School at Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, communication ranges from spirited exchanges in classrooms to messages being transmitted nonverbally when students work in groups all along the hallways. It also refers to the sharing of information and the interpersonal rapport that happens during one-on-one meetings. Recently, members of the high school administration met with the ninth-grade parent representatives. We spent some time going over high school communication and brainstorming how to improve and change the way information is disseminated. As an immediate result, beginning in December, POST IT will have separate, grade-level links to information compiled specifically for each of these groups in order to achieve a better sense of organization and clarity. Such valuable feedback and input from the parent community leads to improved understanding, which in turn benefits students. In the classroom, communication is not just limited to student participation but also refers to modeling and learning the art of using words effectively in order to express ideas and analyses. Suddenly, nuanced expressions and careful wording are musts. Many classes are taught seminar style, with the teacher in the role of facilitator and students assuming leadership roles and guiding discussions. In support of broadening the scope of communication, teachers utilize various technologies; some even “flip” lessons and record their lecture or major discussion points for students to view at home, while dedicating class time to homework assignments, thus directly assisting students with those tasks. This fairly new form of communication appeals to many learners, but others prefer the traditional approach, with materials being communicated verbally in class and homework being accomplished outside the classroom. During block or lab days, when fewer classes meet for longer periods of time, students can be found in the lounge and hallways, working in groups and studying together. The various systems of communication in place are sometimes surprising. YouTube lectures and discussions have become extensions of the textbook. TED Talks and math problems, blogs and discussion boards—all these communication technologies give students opportunity to access teaching and learning in an alternative modality. These modalities are vital for differentiated instruction; they are essential for some students’ success while representing a pleasant change in communications routine for others. But overall, they mirror the life of the 21st-century student.

2 The Ridge Report

In spite of the diverse communication tools at our disposal, students and teachers place a very high value on the care and concern that is transmitted during one-on-one meetings. In addition to teachers helping students during their office hours as well as before and after school, this interest is rarely more prominent than during fall conferences. This is the time when students and parents meet with several teachers at once, not to discuss grades, but to discuss the learning process, the student’s growth over time and her overarching goals. This year’s November conferences drew record numbers, with more than 120 conferences taking place. I spent the two conference days meeting with ninth-grade students and their families, gaining valuable insight and feedback as they reflected on their transition from middle school to high school. Currently, I am in the middle of holding one-on-one meetings with juniors. Junior year in high school is hard, no matter what high school or what curriculum options students exercise. These conversations allow me an opportunity to listen and to ask some follow-up questions. As I explain at the onset of each meeting, I do not walk into these conversations with an agenda; rather, I prefer to let each exchange evolve and unfold in as unique a fashion as the student who is sharing part of her story with me. The fact that teachers support this effort by allowing me to utilize their class time to meet with students speaks volumes about their commitment to the holistic approach to education that characterizes the high school at Forest Ridge. Whether it is constructive feedback and input, lively discussions or group communications in a school hallthey are all are evidence of communication in the high school at Forest Ridge. We rely on all of them to gain further insight and understanding of our mission and of one another. We welcome you to join our conversations.

December Traditions at Forest Ridge

Julie Thenell Grasseschi Director of Middle School

All Sacred Heart schools celebrate unique traditions during

Kris Kringle: During the last week of school in December,

the Advent and Christmas seasons. In addition, Forest Ridge

middle school students will participate in a Kris Kringle gift

has its own traditions and activities to celebrate the seasons.

exchange with one member of their grade. The gift exchange

Each of the events, traditions or activities mentioned below

happens over a three-day period. The students keep their

is centered on the Goals and Criteria for Sacred Heart

Kris Kringle identities secret until the last day of gift

education. The entire community joins together to build

exchange. Students are given themes for each day of gift

community within our classes, across the middle school and

exchange and are asked to keep the total amount of money

throughout the entire school (Goal IV); we work together to

spent on gifts to $20.

reach out to those in our community who are in need of our assistance in order to have a joyful holiday (Goal III); and

Feast Wishes Assembly and Liturgy: This tradition comes

finally, we gather together in prayer and joy to celebrate

from our roots as a boarding school. When Forest Ridge

through liturgy and prayer services the holy seasons of

students lived at school, they would celebrate the Christmas

Advent and Christmas (Goal I). We encourage each family

Feast Day with their teachers (the Religious of the Sacred

to discuss how they can participate in these traditions in a

Heart) by writing a letter to several teachers or staff

way that supports the Goals and Criteria as well as their own

members sharing their wishes for Christmas. These letters

holiday customs.

are still presented to Forest Ridge faculty and staff from students each year during our Feast Wishes Assembly,

The Giving Tree: This Goal III tradition supports children

which will occur on Dec. 16 this year. The Feast Wishes

in kindergarten through the second grade at Lake Hills

Assembly includes student reflections, presentation of

Elementary School and the Native American members of

letters, traditional songs and a formal beginning to the

the Chief Seattle Club. The tree has two kinds of tags. A tag

Christmas holiday by the Head of School.

for a student represents a need for a new book, hardback or softcover, in either English or Spanish (which allows families

On Dec. 16, we also celebrate our Feast Wishes Liturgy.

to read together at home). A tag for a member of the Chief

This liturgy, at 8:45 a.m., opens our day of Feast Wish

Seattle Club represents a need for a new coat, blanket or

celebrations; is a time when we symbolically replace the

winter essentials. Forest Ridge students may take a tag and

Advent wreath with the nativity scene in preparation for

bring a new book, blanket, coat or winter essential to place

Christmas. Parents are always welcome to join us at school

under the Giving Tree.


Advent Prayer: Each Tuesday and Thursday during Advent,

Each of these traditions is a treasured part of a girl’s years

the middle school prayer centers on the season of Advent.

at Forest Ridge. If this is your family’s first year with these

Students light the appropriate number of Advent candles

traditions, I hope that you enjoy these celebrations and

and lead the Middle School in a prayer for hope, peace and

service opportunities, which will soon become strong

joy. The season of Advent uses light, song and scripture to

traditions for your daughter.

guide Christians through the joyful anticipation of the birth of Christ.

The Ridge Report 3

The Pain of Waiting or the Joy of Expecting Diana C. Wall, RSCJ, ’82 (Broadway) Director of Institutional Advancement

Last week while traveling to Medford, Oregon, I had the pleasure of my plane being delayed. Yes, pleasure! Believe it or not, I found that waiting for planes has actually helped me live my spiritual life better—or so I mused as I looked at the glass half full. Musing further on the real distinction between “waiting” and “expecting,” I realize that when we wait, we simply look at the present and what is happening, and when we expect we look to the future for some promised fulfillment that is beyond our ability to know at present. For Catholics and Christians, this is why we do not simply wait for Christ to return; we expect him to return, and we expect him to fulfill all of his promises. Contemplating the meaning of the Advent season a season of anticipating, waiting and expecting--my mind drifted and connected this concept to the Annual Fund and how it correlates to the meaning of this season. The Annual Fund reflects the strength of our community’s commitment to education. It supports the current year’s operating budget: faculty salaries and benefits, teaching tools, educational technology and equipment, professional development and other such necessities that make Forest Ridge a leading educational institution. Its practical equivalent is a checking account that helps Forest Ridge accomplish its daily work. Join the Board of Trustees and members of the faculty and staff who have supported the Annual Fund at a rate of 100 percent participation! Participation is key to our success in writing grant proposals to foundations. The first question is always, “What percentage of your parents participate in your Annual Fund?” Since we will be writing grant proposals over the Christmas holidays to support the arts, I expect to be able to say quite confidently, “100 percent!” but I will need your help to do so. If you have participated – thank you! If you have not yet participated, please do by December 31 because every gift matters, and no gift is too small! I await in anticipation your response … Contemplating the Advent season, I recognize that the difference between waiting and expecting is desire. The desire for what that airplane trip promises at the other end keeps me patient in the boarding area, as does the desire to provide our students with the best possible values-based education available in today’s world. So, next time your plane is delayed, thank God, and look forward with greater expectation to what still lies ahead.

Thank you in advance for your prayerful support and participation in our mission. I pray that God will bless you and your loved ones in the season of Advent and fill you with the joy of Christmas throughout the year ahead.

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In their own words… Emily L. Dapper Director of Admission Annually, Forest Ridge students who are current scholarship

The students themselves are dedicated and inclusive: no

recipients write thank-you letters to donors to the various

student is ever left alone to fend for herself. Nearly the entire

scholarship funds from which the girls benefit. Over the past

student body will band together to help a student through a

few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to read and enjoy these

rough time. This is what I love about Forest Ridge: It is the best

student scholarship thank-you letters. Each letter has served as a

community I have ever experienced.”

reminder of the incredible experiences and stories our students live out each and every day here on campus. As I read through

“Forest Ridge not only educates us about events around the

the stack of letters, the lives of our students came alive; their

world, but [it] also teaches us to be a part of those events

words expressed their unique energy, love of our community

and to help others.”

and passion for learning and life! I look forward to scholarship donors reading these letters and recognizing how their financial

“I absolutely adore Forest Ridge, and I’m so happy that I get

gifts truly impact our students today and in the future.

to be here every day; it has truly become my home away from home. Some weeks, it seems as if I spend more time at Forest

Reading such words of gratitude reminded me, during this busy

Ridge than I do at my own house! I love our community, and

admissions season, to renew my commitment to the Goals and

I love that all of my classmates are more than just academic

Criteria and to the purpose of a Forest Ridge education: Giving

colleagues, but sisters in learning. I’m continually astounded

Girls Their Voice. Some of the voices shared in the letters

by how much we all care for and support each other.”

included these words: “I am thankful for the nurturance, guidance, wisdom and “My time at Forest Ridge has been a life-changing experience.

freedom I receive at Forest Ridge that enables me to explore

Without Forest Ridge, I would never have become the energetic

the person I want to become.”

learner I am now, never have boosted my confidence so immensely and never have realized my leadership potential. Forest Ridge is my

In their thank-you letters, our students shared what we all

home, and I am so blessed to be part of

believe and strive to live each day as part of a Sacred Heart

the family.”

community—the mission and vision of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat and to make known “the Heart of Christ in the world.”

“I enjoy going to Forest Ridge because of the community. The teachers are passionate about their subjects and really imbue a strong appreciation for the subject into their students.

The Ridge Report 5

Looking ahead to an exciting

New Year

The Peace and Reconciliation – Jerusalem 2012 class is excited to welcome alumna and current Alumnae Board president Krysta Svore ’97 to the team. Including Krysta as part of this group is a natural next step in creating an opportunity that is inclusive and spans many of our school’s constituencies while serving the needs of the current students. “I am so excited and honored to be a part of this wonderful program,” Krysta notes. “I had the pleasure of visiting Israel last year and found it to be one of the most inspiring places I have ever been. I am anxious to visit once again and see the Holy Land in a new light and though the girls’ eyes.” As the Peace and Reconciliation program evolves, we plan to continually assess its impact on the students, its partners abroad and the local and global community. The student leadership element of the program is an exciting one. We hope it will set a precedent for future programs that are sustainable and that offer students opportunities to try out leadership capabilities. The program includes three students who made the trip last year: Emma Murphy ’12, Shireen Nori ’12 and Haley Griese ’14. Each of these students has taken on the role of student leader, participating in class and facilitating peer learning with this year’s group of students. Conversation Series The Women as Global Leaders Parent Conversation Series featured a talk in November by Rosetta Lee of Seattle Girls’ School. To access Rosetta’s presentation, please follow this link: Thank you to those who attended our first two conversations! We will kick off the 2012 New Year with a showing of the movie Finding Kind on Jan. 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the Lee Theatre. RSVP to There will be a moderated discussion afterwards and light refreshments. Please stay tuned in January for information on programs for the spring that will be open to students, families and friends! I wish you a warm and healthy holiday season!

Kisha Palmer Program Director, Women As Global Leaders

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Happy holidays from the Parent Association! One of the things we love about Forest Ridge is the school’s location at the top of a hill and its abundance of trees. This assures wonderfully clean and fresh air, which the girls enjoy as they walk from one class to the next. It also means beautiful fall colors; the trees have been particularly vivid this year. We are getting our first freezing nights, and winter is on its way. The Parent Association activities are in full swing now. Parent reps have hosted coffees in each grade level, and, in November, we offered a unique High School Mother-Daughter event: a personal safety workshop The speaker provided practical advice on how to keep yourself safe, which is particularly relevant to our high school girls who are spending more time out on their own with friends, driving themselves to sports practices or going off to college next year. The girls and their mothers learned a lot about ways to assess and avoid unsafe situations and steps they can take to protect themselves. In December, our big PA event is the Faculty and Staff Christmas Luncheon. It is a tradition of the Parent Association to host two luncheons for the teachers and administration of the school –one at Christmas and one at the end of the year. The Christmas luncheon is more formal, in keeping with the season. It is the way we say “thank you” to our daughters’

teachers and all of the people who make the school run so well. Nina Thornsburg, a parent of a junior, is the chair for this event, and she needs lots of help. Please see the sign-up sheet published in POST IT or click here to access the sheet. A tradition associated with the Christmas luncheon is the gift of homemade cookies parents give to each member of the faculty and staff – about 100 people in all! Since we want to include a nice assortment of several dozen cookies for each person, we need about 300 dozen cookies! That is a lot of Christmas cookies, so we need a lot of bakers. Please sign up to bring some of your favorite homemade Christmas cookies through the link published in POST IT. Roopa Satagopan (a new 5th-grade parent) is the chair for the Christmas cookies project. As co-presidents, we feel that it is an important part of our job to review the events that the Parent Association hosts and ask ourselves if it makes sense to continue each event. We wondered if the Christmas cookies were important or if they were unnecessary. So, we did a casual poll of some of the teachers. When we asked if they liked receiving their box of homemade cookies each year from the Parent Association, most of them responded with glowing eyes and a huge smile, saying, “I love getting the Christmas cookies!” So, rest assured that your baking efforts will be appreciated!

We wish you a happy holiday season, full of hope, peace and love. May you enjoy all of your holiday traditions!

Amy Anderson and Cynthia Seely Parent Association Co-Presidents

The Ridge Report 7

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SAVE THE DATE Friday, March 23, 2012


December Ridge Report  

The Ridge Report is the monthly newsletter for the parent community at Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, a private, Catholic school...