Dear Members of the Archmere Community:
As we approach the last six months of the current Strategic Plan, the Board of Trustees and Administration have developed conversations around advancing a new plan with another five-year horizon. Some initiatives sustain and build upon those developed in the last five years, and others explore new ideas and concepts, in light of our changing world and the communities that we serve.
To summarize the work of the last quarter, we have advanced discussions in each of the five areas of focus in our plan.
Sustaining mission continues to be engrained in our every day experiences at Archmere, from daily prayer and Mass to theology classes and extracurricular activities. In particular, during the last quarter, planning has taken place to celebrate Catholic Schools Week (January 30 through February 3), with the rededication and blessing of Saint Norbert Hall on Tuesday, as well as a visit by Archbishop Paglia from the Vatican in Rome on Thursday.
We have also been working on plans for the 100th anniversary celebration of the construction of the Patio, and tours and lecture events in October, as well as programmatic features of the Green Concert Series in December, informed students and guests about the history of the building.
Teachers continue to work with analyzing and discussing the CWRA+ testing data that we received in December from the assessment that was given to all students in all grades this year in October. This is designed to be a “benchmark” year for the data that will be used to determine students’ growth in critical thinking skills.
Similarly, student data from the ACRE testing given to freshman and seniors in theology classes is being reviewed and discussed by the theology department faculty, as well as the board’s mission and heritage committee. The purpose of this assessment is to understand students’ knowledge of Catholic theology, as well as the effective practice of the tenets of the faith.
The last quarter of the year is traditionally busy with recruitment and admissions work, and this past quarter was no exception. We saw an increase in the number of students sitting for the entrance exam, and an increased number of applications for the Class of 2021.
A successful Open House, student shadow days, and staff visits to grade schools contributed to the activity.
The transition of the staff structure to a Director of Enrollment and Admissions, as well as a Director of Admissions, has enhanced the scope of this office to include messaging, marketing research, and student retention, in addition to admissions. Strategies and processes in each of these three additional areas are being developed, and are expected to take shape fully in the coming school year.
Finding the most effective avenues of communication with alumni continues to be a key priority of the Academy, the avenues keep evolving with the advancements in technology. To that end, the alumni home page of the Archmere web site was redesigned to help alumni navigate to the information most often requested, based on previous web site traffic.
The Norbert Medal Award was inaugurated at a reception held during Homecoming Week, expanding upon the former Alumnus of the Year award.
The “Auks Connect” network was launched in the Fall, formally connecting alumni to each other and to current students interested in colleges and careers associated with alumni.
Affinity meetings of attorneys in Delaware and Pennsylvania took place, and others are being planned for physicians in the area affiliated with Archmere as either graduates, current, or former parents of Archmere students.
We are continuing with the Comprehensive Campaign for Archmere, now in the “public phase.” In November, volunteers made phone calls to the parents of current students. As a result of those efforts and additional personal solicitations, approximately $200,000 was raised, bringing the current total to a little more than $5.1 million for Saint Norbert Hall, and a little more than $1.6 million in additional funds have been directed toward endowment.
The board and administration of the school are having continuing discussions of tuition and enrollment, as part of the conversation in the development of the Academy’s next strategic plan, which should be in place at the start of the new school year. Data gathering, benchmarking, and marketing research activities are underway.
As part of the strategic vision for the Academy, the first objectives established by the reaccreditation process of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools has been benchmarked, using data from the College and Work Readiness Assessment, given to all students in October. The first objectives deal with the effective teaching and learning of skills that enhance critical thinking, problem-solving, and self-expression, among others.
While we continue to accomplish much from a dedicated community of people, there is always so much more to be done. We continue to be grateful for our many blessings, as we work to sustain our traditions and enhance our student experience.