My time at Sacred Heart was brief but memorable. Following the closure of my past high school, Sacred presented itself as the perfect option for me. What stands out for me from that time is the quality of the academics, the sense of community and the friendships made. Sacred Heart helped me develop leadership skills and communication skills which have proven incredibly useful years later. I also feel as though the school prepared me thoroughly for what CEGEP had to offer, and I felt ahead in all of my CEGEP classes. When a girl embarks on a Sacred Heart education, she should expect to develop a strong sense of self, make close bonds and feel prepared for the challenges that may come her way in adult life.
During my time at Sacred Heart, there was a change in administration which was viewed positively by the students. The administration was very well-respected, but also engaged in a dialogue with the students. The administration was responsive to student needs, and they respected the students as well. I firmly believe that the leadership exercised by the administration, such as their support of a Community Service Day, instilled confidence in the students. I felt as though the administration fostered a positive environment which always made me excited to go to school. They were accessible and kind.
The teaching at Sacred Heart was very well done. Teachers were very responsive to questions and concerns too. I was very happy with the quality of instruction I received because I felt as though it made me well prepared for post-graduation. I also felt inspired by many of my teachers at the time, and they still inspire me today like Ms. Cusma, Ms. Jones and Ms. Coull. All of my teachers were very knowledgeable and passionate about the subjects they taught which, in turn, made me passionate about the classroom. They definitely triggered my love of learning, something I carry with me still. My favourite experience was with Ms. Cusma in AP European History. I was not feeling confident about my ability to do the exam because I was very stressed, and Ms. Cusma told me to not underestimate myself and reminded me of my abilities. That moment is one that I think of often!
The academic program at Sacred Heart, in my view, was very robust. As a non-STEM student, I appreciated the diversity of non-STEM courses. At the time, there were many arts courses, some AP courses, economics, leadership etc. I feel as though this is a strong point for Sacred Heart -- The course offerings are very well-balanced. I felt as though most of my courses balanced the importance of learning and academic challenges perfectly. I felt challenged but also was given the appropriate tools to deal with said challenges. I also feel as though many types of academic tools were used which prepared me for life beyond Sacred Heart, like the Socratic method. Generally, I felt as though the teaching I received in my last two years of high school prepared me very well for the government MELS exams and for my time at CEGEP.
Sacred Heart had many extracurricular opportunities outside of the classroom at the time and, to my knowledge, they have gained some since like Model United Nations participation. Sacred Heart also had various active sports teams. Personally, I participated in more leadership type initiatives, such as sitting on Yearbook and participating in public speaking/poetry contests. I felt as though extracurriculars had a true focus on setting aside academics and just having fun with each other, which I really appreciated.
The student body at Sacred Heart was small but in the best way possible. I would describe it as being incredibly cozy and community-centric. The student body in my view had a very collaborative sense to it, marked by the House system Sacred has. I felt as though the divide between cohorts was loose as well: everyone really knew each other. The average Sacred girl, in my view, is one who cares deeply about those around her, prioritizes academics and friendships and devotes herself. However, there is a wide range of students at Sacred Heart of course, and all of them are passionate about diverse values. I felt as though students got along really well as a family almost. In terms of the background of students, many students came from Anglophone households around Montreal, the South Shore and the West Island.
I believe that the quality of student life at Sacred Heart was really great and I was always excited to attend school. I fondly remember that, every day, there would be a Prefect at the entrance to welcome you. Generally, I would just describe it as being so great because of its welcoming nature. I liked the independence I had at Sacred Heart, especially during study periods where I could just read for leisure. I felt as though most students were very engaged within the Sacred Heart community and were happy there, looking at my friends specifically. Whenever students were stressed, as that happens generally, I feel as though those emotions were offset by the sense of collaboration and community fostered within the school. I look back on those times being very satisfied.
I think that the sense of community is where Sacred Heart shines the most. I have remained actively engaged with Sacred since my graduation. I have walked in the St. Patrick's day parade with the school and have attended consultations as an alumnu. I also visit Open Houses sometimes. I feel as though parents were involved within the school community, but there was no pressure to be. My mom never felt like she HAD to do things for the school, but was happy to jump in on the action when she felt like she had something to offer. I feel as though many past students are fairly engaged with Sacred still, looking at the fact that many teachers at the Sacred Heart currently used to be students. When I was a student though, the sense of community was just as strong. There were many activities, like Sports Day, which encouraged this.
The school was very centrally located, at the heart of downtown but, despite this, it still felt like an island. The building itself is huge, but so are the school grounds. There is a lot of outdoor space. I never ventured far beyond the school grounds except when we were allowed to go get lunch out in secondary five. The school was easily accessible by public transit for my friends who lived on the West Island as well.
My admissions process was slightly different as I was coming to Sacred Heart over halfway into my high school years. I do not remember having any difficulty with my application and, in fact, I remember that the school was very accommodating and easy to deal with. When I was looking at Sacred Heart as an option, there were many opportunities to see the school and get a feel for it. Beyond Open House, there was a student for a day program which helped me a lot. The administration was also very kind and just let me come visit once in the middle of a school day with my mum to look around. I quite honestly do not remember much from the admissions process which, in my view, is a good sign! It was simple.