First Quarter Update, Nov. 2013

Dear Members of the Archmere Community:

The summer of 2013 was a busy one for the staff at Archmere Academy, as we initiated and completed several action plans to advances the goals of the 2012 Strategic Plan for Archmere. Work in each of the Plan’s five areas of focus was accomplished, and we continue to enjoy a positive momentum with the concerted help of so many members of the Archmere community.


Mission

Experiences of the Saint Norbert Leadership Corps program were shared among students and faculty chaperones, as well as with the Saint Norbert College staff. These discussions concluded with an implementation plan for launching a student-designed program to assist at-risk grade school age students at nearby Claymont Elementary School. In addition, feedback from participants in the program has helped administrators from the College and Archmere to make design adjustments to the 2014 summer program.

We finalized plans to support liturgical creativity that has taken shape at the start of this new academic year. Specific attention has been given to student engagement and involvement in both the planning and celebration of Masses, retreats, and gatherings for prayer.

The Saint Norbert Oratory in Saint Norbert Hall was completed, and now serves as a gathering place for private and communal prayer. The nine stained glass windows that were commissioned to depict the life of Saint Norbert are a major focal point of the Oratory. We also completed a new reflective space for students – the quad located between the Science Center and the Patio has walking paths and a meditation garden with the Stations of the Cross.

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Academic Excellence

We developed an enhanced day schedule for the current school year to better accommodate students’ curriculum choices. A pilot program for distance learning in mathematics was designed and implemented in the current school year with an 8th grade advanced math class at Holy Child Academy in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. Teachers also developed online resources, including instructional videos to support classroom teaching.

We completed a comprehensive Technology Plan for Archmere, which takes into account staffing, academic programs, administrative needs, and both hardware and software resources. In addition, staff prepared for the Phase II release of the school’s website that occurred in late August.

The Guidance and College Counseling staff, along with the administration, have put together a series of short and long-term strategies to enhance counseling programs to meet the current needs of students, including strategies for the college discernment process.

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Teachers & Staff

A committee of 17 faculty, staff, and administrators continued meeting to discuss the details of a compensation model that will include both merit-based salary increases and an evaluation of benefits that best meet the needs of all staff. The discussions are leading to recommendations this fall for consideration by the board for implementation in the next fiscal year.

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Alumni Engagement

The newly-elected Alumni Council held and all-day planning retreat at Archmere on September 13. During the retreat, the group identified priorities and projects for the year that align with the goals of the Academy’s Strategic Plan. I am excited to work with the Association leadership to accomplish their goals. The energy and ideas of the alumni are critical to the success of Archmere!

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Financial Sustainability

We continued to improve and enhance our data and information for alumni, parents, parents of graduates, grandparents and friends. On the heels of a very successful fund raising year that closed as of June 30, we began planning for the 2013-14 school year. Assembling volunteer committees for the Archmere Fund program, developing mission-appropriate materials, and establishing new fund raising goals for the year were accomplished with the leadership members of the Advancement committee of the Board of Trustees and advancement staff.

In the fall of 2012, Archmere began the school year with a freshman class of 115 students, and a total enrollment of 476 students, based on an operating budget that anticipated 470 students. In this last quarter, we began the school year with 503 students, with a budget that anticipated 472 students! Our freshman class numbers 134 students, and we had to put in place a waiting pool for additional applicants. The creation of five new scholarship funds and increased giving from our parents’ clubs and our Alumni Association has helped to boost the scholarship and financial aid pool available for students. We are grateful for this support.

We continue to develop the Archmere “brand,” recruiting new students and families, and sharing the message of our 80-year history and our foundations as a Catholic, Norbertine school. Archmere students and parents have joined renewed efforts for the new school year as members of the “Auk Recruiters” and “Auk Ambassadors” organizations, respectively, helping our Admissions and Marketing team to spread the word about Archmere in their communities.

In the last quarter, our virtual Archmere community has grown once again with the added features to the school’s website, a virtual campus tour, six active faculty and staff member blogs, and an increased presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

In an effort to expand our geographical reach, and to provide reliable transportation for our families, we have added an additional Archmere New Jersey shuttle to our fleet, which now covers daily routes to Delaware and Chester counties in Pennsylvania, Bear, Middletown, North Dover, and Mullica Hill in New Jersey.

We continued to sharpen our focus on financial planning and modeling and efficient fiscal management. The Board of Trustees approved a Facilities Assessment Study conducted by ABHA Architects and EDiS, to assist school leadership in developing a comprehensive needs assessment that includes facilities, as well as program and staffing needs. the Board and administration are currently reviewing the study’s findings.

We are happy to report that we received a complete unqualified audit, with no discrepancies or recommendations for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

The Archmere facilities staff also completed renovations to the restrooms in the basement of The Patio – a much needed enhancement, in addition to renovations of the History and Theology department offices in Saint Norbert Hall. Donations from the 2013 Senior Class Gift contributed to the creation of a student piazza outside of the Manor.

Having had an audit conducted of our campus security and safety policies, we have added additional cameras to portions of the campus, along with card access readers on doors to campus buildings that did not already have them. Safety policies were reviewed, updated, and most recently, practiced by staff and students in safety drills.

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Much has happened in the last quarter, and we are excited to move forward with our plans that assure Archmere’s continued success. We are grateful for your continued interest and support in our most important work.