Woodlands Academy Opens for New School Year

The Aug. 24 start of the 2021-22 term launched a second year of in-person classroom instruction at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart with COVID-19 protocols once again governing life at the all-girls high school in Lake Forest. School officials believe that students learn most effectively when they can actively engage with their teachers and peers. For the second year in a row, the school’s COVID-19 guidelines are part of Woodlands Academy's dedication to keeping that a reality.

Head of School Dawn Nichols, Ed.D., is looking forward to a successful year. “Having arrived on campus a few short weeks ago, I am already so impressed by the faculty and staff with whom I have met and the students with whom I have crossed paths,” she said . “Clearly this is a spirited community that embraces its mission. Joining it as head of school is an honor and a privilege.”

The mood was festive with various displays of school spirit Aug. 24 as members of the Class of 2022 celebrated their newfound status during what’s become known as “Seniors Rule Day.” Prior to the start of classes, the Woodlands Academy community gathered for the annual commissioning of faculty and staff. “These adults at Woodlands perform the important ministries of teaching, coaching, moderating, advising and attending to the administrative needs involved in running a school,” Associate Head of School Christine Schmidt said. “Each one of them plays a vital, unique role in creating the Sacred Heart community.”

Prior to the opening day activities, a new student prayer service on Aug. 23 marked the end of orientation for freshmen and transfer students. This annual blessing of new students welcomes them into a tradition of Sacred Heart education that traces its roots back to France in 1800. Senior Berkeley Borkert told them they are now members of the Woodlands Academy family. “We will always be there for you every step of the way,” she said. “Over the past three years, this building has become more of a home than just a school for me, and that is what is so magical about being a Wildcat. I wish you all the best of luck, and I know you will all find your voice and shine at Woodlands.” The service concluded with a recessional from the school’s chapel in which all new students carried a lit candle.

Founded in 1858, Woodlands Academy is an independent Catholic day-and-boarding college-preparatory high school for young women of all faiths in grades nine through 12. The school, located in Lake Forest since 1904, promotes engaging academics, artistic and athletic excellence, strong faith, and social responsibility. It’s part of an international network of more than 150 schools on six continents.