Community service is emphasized in a Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart education. Goal III of all Sacred Heart schools seeks to educate to a social awareness that impels action. With this in mind, Woodlands Academy held the first of its two 2022-23 service days on Nov. 1. Freshmen and juniors from the all-girls college-preparatory day-and-boarding high school in Lake Forest lent a helping hand to some area service organizations. At the same time, sophomores and seniors participated in retreat activities. Pictured: Woodlands Academy juniors and freshmen spent the first part of their day at Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) in Libertyville. While there they helped prepare a total of 29,592 meals (enough to feed 81 kids for a year) for distribution. FMSC donates meals packaged in Libertyville and its other sites to food partners that feed hungry kids worldwide.
News Around Woodlands
Larry Farmer experienced great collegiate success as a member of the three-time NCAA national champion UCLA Bruins basketball team coached by the legendary John Wooden in the early 1970s. He was then drafted by the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers and the ABA (at the time) Denver Nuggets. Farmer’s coaching credentials include the NBA, where he was an assistant for the Golden State Warriors. At the collegiate level, his head coaching stints included UCLA and Loyola University/Chicago. But when Farmer decided to retire to spend more time with family, his lifelong dream to coach high school basketball remained unfulfilled. That dream has now come true as he assumes leadership of the Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart basketball program this season. “There is a level of enthusiasm and excitement surrounding Woodlands’ program that definitely got my attention, and I can’t wait to start the season,” Farmer said.
Parents and other guests joined the Woodlands Academy community on Oct. 19 for the Mater Liturgy, which celebrates the drawing of the sophomore class more deeply into the family of the Sacred Heart. This Woodlands Academy tradition marks a student's transition from a time as a child to an emergence as a young woman who recognizes that receiving a Sacred Heart education is a blessing in her life to be treasured. During the ceremony, each sophomore receives a medal depicting the image of Mater (another name for Mary, Mother of God). It symbolizes the student's transformation and calls on her to be a resilient, innovative young woman who bases her life on the values of the Sacred Heart. A statue of Mater graces the vestibule of Woodlands Academy's 400 wing. Its history can be traced to Sacred Heart Society founder St. Madeline Sophie Barat. (Pictured are some of the sophomore class participants.)
A top Mondelez International executive provided a truly inspirational launch of Woodlands Academy’s 2022-23 “Imagine Yourself in the C-Suite” series. Christine Montenegro McGrath spent an hour sharing insights and advice with students at the all-girls college-prep day-and-boarding high school in Lake Forest. She was interviewed by senior Anne Kelly before a question-and-answer session was opened to all students. As one of the largest snack food companies in the world, Mondelez International’s brands include Oreo cookies, belVita Breakfast Biscuits, Cadbury candies, and Sour Patch Kids. By spotlighting highly accomplished females like McGrath, this Woodlands Academy speaker series aims to help its students envision themselves in the highest levels of leadership. (Kelly and McGrath are shown in the photo.)
Sacred Heart awards for the first quarter of the 2022-23 school year were given to eight Woodlands Academy students and two faculty/staff members in recognition of living the Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria in a most visible way. Students recognized for their efforts in living out Goal IV, “Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to the building of community as a Christian value,” were freshmen Margaret Glunz and Lucy Petherbridge, sophomores Avery Drekhoff and Kjirste Miller, juniors Elizabeth Erricolo and Isabel Lopez, and seniors Eli Fortin and Lucero Saucedo. The adult community Sacred Heart Award recipients were Elliot Coffey, computer science teacher/director of technology, and Mark McDonough, facilities maintenance staff member.
A trio of 8th-grade students from Northbrook Junior High School was the winning team at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart’s 10th annual Mathalon event. In all, nearly three dozen 7th- and 8th-grade girls from seven schools in Lake and Cook counties competed. They spent a Saturday morning putting their math skills to the test in creative, problem-solving ways at the all-girls college-prep day-and-boarding high school in Lake Forest. There were no rote paper and pencil drills in this competition, according to Rocco Gargiulo, Woodlands Academy principal. Teams of three middle school girls tackled a variety of fun and engaging mathematical tasks such as building, counting, drawing, estimating, folding and hypothesizing. Mathalon was created as one way of getting girls interested in STEM courses and, possibly, careers at an early age.
For yet another year, Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart gets top grades when it comes to a faith-based education for young women. According to recently released 2023 rankings by Niche, an independent research company, the Lake Forest school repeats as the #1 Best All-girls High School in Illinois. In addition, Woodlands Academy is ranked the #1 Best Catholic High School in Illinois and the #8 Best Private High School in Illinois along with the overall grade of A+ it received in this year’s report. This is the sixth year in a row that Woodlands has been ranked the #1 Best All-girls High School in Illinois. Niche, a website for researching K-12 schools, scored Woodlands Academy highly on a variety of factors. These include SAT/ACT scores, student-teacher ratios, the quality of colleges students consider, and reviews from students, alumni and parents.
Susan Tyree Dempf, Ph.D., has been guiding Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart as its new head of school since July 1. Her appointment by unanimous vote of the Lake Forest school’s board of trustees earlier this year was officially celebrated during an installation ceremony and Mass at Woodlands on Sept. 23. Dempf is the 45th person to serve in this top leadership role since Woodlands Academy’s founding in 1858. The Society of the Sacred Heart was represented by Sister Suzanne Cook, RSCJ, provincial of the U.S. and Canada Province, who led the installation ceremony. Mass was celebrated by the Rev. Michael Nacius, pastor of the Church of St. Mary in Lake Forest. “In the name of the Society of the Sacred Heart, I welcome you to your new role as head of this school community,” Cook said.
Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart is proud to announce that one of its senior class members has qualified to continue her pursuit of a highly prestigious scholarship award. Anne Kelly is among the less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors achieving semifinalist status in the 68th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. This group of academically talented students will continue in the competition for some 7,250 National Merit® scholarships worth nearly $28 million awarded next spring. In addition, recipients of these scholarships earn the coveted title of Merit Scholar®. “I am so very proud of Anne for achieving this outstanding national recognition of the academic excellence she has achieved during her years here at Woodlands Academy,” Principal Rocco Gargiulo said.
The Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart community celebrated its multicultural makeup during the school’s annual Flag Ceremony and prayer service on Friday, Sept. 9. The flags of the U.S.A. and 26 other nations were carried into the chapel during the Procession of the Nations. They represent nations where either a student or faculty/staff member was born or where they hold dual citizenship. All 27 flags will remain on display during the entire school year to visualize the breadth of Woodlands Academy’s cultural diversity. “At Woodlands Academy, there are many ways for each of us to expand our global hearts,” Principal Rocco Gargiulo said. “Today, our Flag Ceremony recognizes, honors and celebrates the breadth and diversity on our campus.”