I pray that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you,
that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me.
The 2014-15 school year began with 678 students (259 middle school and 419 high school students).
FORMING THE MINDS
The school welcomed the following new staff members this year: Sidney Ann Fowler (Annual Fund Manager), Heather Malone-Grippe (Late Stay Assistant), Rachael Mantelli (Strings), Phyllis Stanton (Middle School English and History), Jenny Starks (Admissions Associate), James Swingle (High School and Middle School History), and Father Jeremy Von Wodecki (School Chaplain).
In the fall of 2014, SJCS distributed Google Chromebooks to all eighth grade students and significantly increased the school's computer access for all students through the use of school-issued email accounts, laptops, iPads, and Chromebooks. In addition, St. Joseph's became a "Google Apps for Education" school, giving both students and teachers access to all Google Apps.
The Cardinal Newman Society included St. Joseph's Catholic School on its Fall 2014 list of schools recognized nationally by the Catholic Education Honor Roll as Schools of Excellence (formerly the Top 50 Award). Since 2004, the Honor Roll has celebrated quality Catholic education throughout the United States, and all schools named to the list share a common trait in providing a truly integrated and faithful Catholic education across all disciplines and in all areas of student activities.
The College Counseling Office added a second counselor to assist students and families in the college search and application process. As a result, juniors and seniors were able to receive increased individual assistance in addition to expanding group services and individualized course scheduling conferences for freshmen and sophomores.
In the fall of 2014, St. Joseph's SAT and ACT averages again surpassed the county, state, and national averages, with the SJCS Class of 2014 posting an average SAT score of 1765 and an average ACT score of 26.4. The local, state, and national averages for 2014 were as follows: Greenville County (1467/SAT and 22/ACT), South Carolina (1429/SAT and 20.4/ACT), and National (1471/SAT and 21/ACT).
Also in Fall 2014, the College Guidance Office reported that St. Joseph's students scored an 85% pass rate on Advanced Placement (AP) exams completed in Spring 2013. The state pass rate was reported at 58% and the national pass rate was 59%.
In order to ensure a student's success at SJCS and beyond, academic support services were expanded this year to include several new initiatives under the umbrella of the St. John Bosco Achievement Center. In addition to the support offered to students in the long-standing St. Thomas Aquinas Program, the center also included the Knights Success Program and Freshmen Focus, providing support to those students who require assistance with organization, time management, note-taking/test-taking strategies, and other academic needs.
Several high school students participated in the LemonADE Stand pilot program, a three-day workshop for students to design and develop new business ideas, held at the Anderson Arts Center in October.
The High School Academic Team captured Second Place at the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA) Regional Quiz Bowl Tournament held in October.
A senior captured first in the state for High School Humorous Oral Interpretation at the SCISA State Literary Meet held in October.
The SJCS Middle School Quiz Bowl Team won the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA) Regional Competition in February, and went on to win the SCISA State Championship held in March.
Two SJCS seventh grade students captured first and second place in the seventh grade category at the Duke Energy Invention Convention held in March at the TD Convention Center.
One eighth grade student captured first place in the Computer/Math Science category in the junior division (Grades 6-8) of the SCISA State Science Fair held in April at the Sumter County Civic Center.
Middle and high school students excelled at the annual Youth in Government (YIG) Conference held in November at the State House. In addition to the many awards conferred on SJCS students, an eighth grader received the Servant Leader Award, a new middle school award given to students who exemplify servant leadership. Both the high school and the middle school delegations received Premiere Delegation recognition, an accomplishment the high school group has received for the past thirteen years.
Thirty-six seventh graders, representing 42% of their class, qualified for participation in the Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP). From this group, ten St. Joseph's seventh grade students qualified for TIP State Recognition and one qualified for Grand Recognition by meeting qualifying score criteria on the SAT or ACT college entrance tests.
The fourth edition of the school's literary magazine, Inscape, was mailed to SJCS supporters, and for the first time this year, middle school as well as high school students were invited to submit their best work for the cover design and poetry contests, resulting in the most entries to date.
Twelve members of the Class of 2015 were recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation: Five were named National Merit Finalists, two were named National Achievement Finalists, one was named National Achievement Semi-Finalist, and four were named National Merit Commended Students.
The Class of 2015, consisting of 94 members, set a new school record for college scholarships, earning just under $12 million, with an average award package of over $137,000 per student.
FORMING THE HEARTS
In the school's fifth year of competition in the South Carolina High School League (SCHSL) at the 1A Level, the combined seasons produced three State Champions: Girls Cross-Country (fifth consecutive state title), Boys Soccer (fourth consecutive state title), and Girls Volleyball (fourth consecutive state title). In addition, the Varsity Boys Golf Team and the Girls Track Team were both named State Runners-Up.
In honoring the nation's best high school athletes, the Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, named a St. Joseph's senior as its 2014-15 Gatorade South Carolina Volleyball Player of the Year, the first Gatorade South Carolina Volleyball Player of the Year to be chosen from SJCS. This award, which distinguished this athlete as the state's best high school volleyball player, recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character.
During the 2014-15 school year, SJCS athletes and coaches received many of the SCHSL highest awards: one athlete was named SCHSL Class A State Player of the Year (volleyball); eight athletes were named SCHSL Region II-A Players of the Year (baseball, boys soccer, girls cross country, softball, swimming and volleyball); and seven coaches were named SCHSL Region Two 1A Coaches of the Year (boys basketball, girls and boys cross-country, boys soccer, softball, swimming and volleyball).
Girls Softball and Girls Soccer improved their previous season records and went further in the state playoffs than ever before.
A junior wrestler was named County Champion in his weight class, the school's first SCHSL county wrestling champ.
A senior swimmer, along with members of her freestyle relay team, set a world record at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships held in Hawaii over Labor Day weekend.
A senior was named a 2014 PrepVolleyball.com National High School Senior of the Year finalist. In addition, a sophomore was named to the 2014 PrepVolleyball.com Soph 79, a list of the best sophomore volleyball players in the country, and one of only two players from the state to receive this honor.
A senior athlete capped 1,000 points in her high school basketball career in December.
The High School Chess Team placed first in the SCISA State High School Chess Tournament held in November. The Middle School Chess Team placed second in the SCISA Middle School Chess Tournament held in April.
A sophomore was selected to serve as a staff advisor to the City of Greenville Youth Commission. Appointed by City Council, Youth Commission members serve as the voice of youth in Greenville and give feedback and input on various projects and plans.
High school photography and yearbook students were selected by Upstate International to photograph many of their events happening around town during their month-long celebration in March, photographing everything from a traditional Afghanistan cooking class to Irish dancing. The students were also invited to Michelin, an Upstate International sponsor, to photograph the kickoff celebration event.
TRADE (Teens Rising Against Drugs Everyday), the new name of the group of St. Joseph's juniors and seniors working and training with Greenville Family Partnership, were responsible for several initiatives this year designed to inform students about the effects of substance abuse and to help prevent common teen issues from becoming problems.
The Fine Arts Department summerstock production All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, the fall play Shakespeare in Hollywood, the eighth grade play The Fearsome Pirate Frank, and the spring musical, Big Fish, all met with great success this year. In addition, the talents of the SJCS student body continued to shine in all of the Fine Arts Department performing arts initiatives, including student-run coffeehouses, Improv Knight, and Jubilate Knight. Finally, theatre students received numerous honors, awards, and/or scholarships at the Palmetto Dramatics Association & South Carolina Thespian Festival and the Southeastern Theatre Conference.
The Fine Arts Department, featuring the school's strings, band, choral, and dance ensembles, delighted audiences with superb performances at the two annual school concerts. Most notably, the High School Choir presented Godspell, a musical based on the Gospel of Matthew, in January and performed a concert of sacred music in May, both on the St. Mary's Catholic Church campus.
In addition to sharing their artistic talents with the SJCS community at the school's annual Fall Art Exhibit and Spring Art Show, visual art students also placed entries outside the school community at the Greenville Technical College High School Art Show, the largest high school art exhibition in the Upstate.
The St. Joseph's community celebrated "Jan Carino Day" in mid-May to honor long-time Athletic Director Jan Carino and her seventeen years of service to the school. Following a series of remarks highlighting her accomplishments, Carino was named the inaugural inductee into the newly established Athletic Hall of Fame.
FORMING THE SOULS
Father Jeremy von Wodecki began his duties this year as the new School Chaplain, making the sacraments available to students and faculty on a regular basis and serving as a spiritual guide to all members of the community who sought his counsel.
The Student and Academic Life Team (SALT), having been established during the previous school year, was active again this year as student leaders from various campus clubs met regularly with administrators to discuss and plan school initiatives.
The seventh annual Knights Challenge 5K and One-Mile Family Fun Run, held each year at the start of Spirit Week in October, drew a record crowd from throughout the Upstate to benefit the Bon Secours St. Francis Cancer Center.
Towards the end of Spirit Week, the Class of 2015 was invited on a private tour of the chapel construction project. The seniors were encouraged to sign the old block walls with short messages about themselves and their class, and a time capsule was filled with items relevant to their day and their class. Although the walls were covered, the markings remained intact, to be rediscovered, along with the time capsule, during future renovations.
In late October, more than 240 supporters came out for the first annual SJCS Board of Trustees and Donor Appreciation Tailgate. Participants, representing faculty, staff, past and present Board of Trustee members, Founder's Circle Members, and Founder's Level Red Door Donors, enjoyed food and fellowship.
Several new clubs were formed this year in an effort to bring students to a deeper level of Christian commitment. The St. Cecilia Vocations Club provided middle school girls with a forum to hear about different vocations and to allow them to grow closer to Christ, especially through prayer. The St. Maximilian Kolbe Vocations Club provided middle school boys with a forum to grow more fully in their relationship with Christ by exploring their own vocations, providing the personal witness of different vocations and directed prayer time. A new peer-to-peer mentoring program called Girl Talk allowed high school girls the opportunity to serve as positive role models for middle school girls, meeting once a week during lunch to discuss issues and problems that girls face in their day-to-day lives.
In a new twist on school retreats, the SJCS Campus Ministry Team spearheaded the first student-parent class retreats for both the sophomore class and the seventh grade class. The events included both team building activities for parents and students together as well as separate time for talks and reflection. Both events, held on Sundays, included the celebration of Mass and dinners together.
Seven high school students were recognized in early December for their work as founding members of the Peer-2-Peer Program sponsored by the Department of Juvenile Justice. This program, which began last year, provides Greenville County students on probation for truancy the opportunity to give, gain, and grow through bi-monthly meetings with SJCS students. Together, they discuss topics such as goal setting, handling academic pressure, communicating with teachers, forming study habits, as well as completing a college visit.
The school's gymnasium was themed "Frozen" for this year's annual Auction Gala. Highlights from the evening included the involvement of many St. Joseph's students and a record amount of money being raised in support of the school's commitment to providing tuition assistance to qualified families.
SJCS kicked off Catholic Schools Week in late January with the blessing of the newly renovated St. John Paul II Center, which was dedicated to the memory of one of the school's founders, Margaret Ann Moon. Bishop Guglielmone was on hand to celebrate the opening Mass and to bless and dedicate the center. In addition to the entire SJCS community and several of the Upstate clergy, over 100 supporters and benefactors were present to witness the transformation of the former chapel into a beautiful space dedicated to worship and other school events.
At the close of this year's Catholic Schools Week celebration, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) speaker Thomas Awiapo visited St. Joseph's and recounted his inspiring story of survival and success to the student body. His story and joyful presence inspired the entire school community for months to follow.
In keeping with the Pope's teaching of asking the faithful to immerse themselves in the lives of others from all walks of life while seeking the goal of a just, responsive, and inclusive society, St. Joseph's established the SJCS Pope Francis Forum for Diversity and Dialogue this year. The forum sought to improve the school community's awareness of the desires, problems, and needs of others while learning how to engage in respectful, honest dialogue with others of varying backgrounds and beliefs.
Households, clubs, and honor societies performed a multitude of service projects this school year. Highlights included, but were not limited to: support of the Greenville Parkinson Society (High School Student Council); Project Hope Foundation (GS Club); Make A Wish Foundation (Junior Beta Club); International Memory Project (Visual Arts); Shriner's Hospital (Fine Arts Department); Birthright of Greenville, St. Anthony's Catholic School, and Homeworks of America (Households); Book Drives (English and Social Studies Honor Societies); Food Drives (International Thespians), and Bake Sales (Middle School Council). This service work culminated in the "St. Joseph the Worker" Feast Day celebration in early May, an annual event in which students and staff perform community service work throughout the greater Greenville area.
Members of the Class of 2015 embarked on the school's second annual senior mission trip in late May, partnering with Homeworks of America to complete repairs on a home in Charleston.
A member of the Class of 2015 was accepted and is planning to attend seminary in the fall.