While most high school students are accustomed to filling the gym bleachers for a rally to recognize student-athletes and their achievements, the students at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (OLSH) are also familiar with an assembly to celebrate a different kind of achievement – academic achievement. For the second year, the OLSH community gathered in the Angela Activities Center gymnasium building to celebrate the successes of the school’s AP Advantage Program, which is affiliated with the University of Notre Dame’s AP Teacher Investment Program (AP TIP IN) and also allows OLSH students to take AP classes online through Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth. In its second full year, the program has grown significantly, surpassing the goals set for participation and success. In just four years, the number of AP exams taken at OLSH has increased 311%.
This year, OLSH students earned qualifying scores (3, 4, or 5) on 75% of AP tests taken, including achieving 16 top scores of 5. (A significant increase from last year’s results of 63.6% of tests taken earning qualifying scores.) The success of the Program isn’t only connected to the scores earned on tests taken. Students are being encouraged to enroll in AP courses based on a scored AP Potential. Taking AP courses significantly increases the potential for success in college, due to the rigor of the coursework. Additionally, new AP courses have been added to the OLSH course catalog. Students at OLSH have the opportunity to choose from 12 AP courses taught on site, including AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Computer Science A, AP Computer Science Principles, AP English Language & Composition, AP English Literature & Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP US Government & Politics, and AP World: 1200-Present. This year AP Studio Art has been added to the curriculum.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School is the only school outside of the state of Indiana to be “adopted” by the University of Notre Dame to participate in its AP Teacher Investment Program (AP TIP IN). The Program provides training and resources to teachers of AP courses, specifically in the STEM and English subject areas. OLSH teachers attend an AP Summer Institute, as well as specialized professional development days at Notre Dame, and Notre Dame faculty visit OLSH to provide support to our AP teachers a few times throughout the year. OLSH teachers have access to resources to support the AP curriculum and each spring the school holds mock exams in each AP course to help prepare students for the actual exams each May.
Mrs. Karen Morris, Director of Notre Dame’s AP TIP IN Program, addressed the audience. She invited the students to start to think about life after OLSH. “Invest time in your work, challenge yourself,” she encouraged. She expressed her pride for the students’ achievements and closed with a quote from St. John Paul II: “Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
A generous OLSH benefactor was instrumental in linking OLSH with Notre Dame. He had heard of the program and thought it would be a great fit for OLSH. This donor provides a financial incentive for students and teachers who participate in the program and earn qualifying scores on the AP exams. Students and teachers receive a cash award for scores of 3, 4, or 5 and this year, two teachers were given bonus awards for a 100% qualifying exam score rate in their classes, and another was given a bonus award for demonstrating significant increases in student success from last year. While the AP TiP IN Program typically focuses on STEM subjects and English, the donor has included Social Studies in the Program at OLSH, as well. In all, over $29,000 was awarded, an increase of 139% over last year’s awards totaling $12,200.
Receiving awards were eight faculty members: Mrs. Andrea Bagnell (AP World History: Modern), Mr. Eric Carothers (AP US Government & Politics), Mr. Chase Feher (AP Biology), Mrs. Erica Hollabaugh (AP English Language & Composition), Mr. Chris Nagel (AP Environmental Science), Miss Emily Raker (AP Physics I), Mr. Michael Schuster (AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC), and Mrs. Paula Vigrass (AP Computer Science A and AP Computer Science Principles). The 53 current students and recent graduates who were recognized for earning qualifying scores and received financial awards were Paul Belak ’19, Sophia Blake ’19, Tyler Bradley ’19, Kassidy Burke ’20, Own Cain ’20, Abigail Ciaramella ’20, Dominic Cook ’19, Emily Costantino ’20, Sarah Davison ’20, Caroline Friend ’20, Christopher Gabriel ’20, Jacob Gartley ’20, Leslie George ’20, Brenna Glance ’20, Allison Gower ’20, Nathan Hart ’19, Madelyn Hoff ’19, Krista Kim ’19, Molly Kirby ’20, Rebekah Kosher ’19, Anne Kubiak ’20, Sylvie Lewis ’20, Grace Majoris ’20, Michael Mankie ’20, Margaret Matous ’20, Carolyn McAndrews ’20, Corinne McDevitt ’19, Abigail Messner ’20, Xavier Moskala ’20, Lisa Nardozzi ’20, Ashley Norling ’19, Elizabetha Ondercin ’20, Ryan Parker ’19, Jennifer Paul ’19, Andrew Polar ’19, Brendan Polidora ’20, Kevin Randal ’20, Joseph Rozman ’20, Alexandra Rudock ’19, Daniel Brock Saftner ’20, Siegfried Luke Saftner ’19, Julia Sarnowski ’19, Hannah Schmid ’19, Andrew Schnarre ’19, Camillia Senvisky ’19, Lindsey Shema ’19, Bethany Smith ’19, Madison Tanczos ’20, Matthew Tanczos ’20, Francesca Taylor ’20, Hannah Valenty ’20, Joseph Valenty ’20, and Rebecca Voss ’19.