The first year of high school is an adjustment year for students on many levels. At JPII we help students navigate their transition to becoming successful high school students by encouraging healthy relationships and disciplined study habits.
The Advisor – LEAD IX: Every student at JPII is paired with an advisor. The advisor reviews academic progress, explains upcoming events, discusses concerns and helps with the adjustment to high school.
In addition to the advisory program, freshmen also participate in LEAD IX. LEAD IX is a great way for the freshmen to hear what the JPII experience is all about from upperclassmen that are passionate about their school. LEAD IX mentors also help to provide support to the freshmen as they transition into high school.
The Freshman Academic Program: The freshman year academic program introduces students to the seven core disciplines that will serve as a foundation for their academic life at JPII: Math, Science, English, History, Theology, Foreign Language and Fine Arts. Students take P.E. as their 8th class. They are placed in either “Advanced” or regular classes in these disciplines based on demonstrated proficiency on placement tests. Regardless of level, the purpose of the freshman year is to ensure students learn the requisite skills and habits to be successful in their high school careers. To foster this success, JPII has adopted policies and guidelines to build upon, which include:
- Tutorials: In addition to faculty office hours, tutorials are available during lunch each day for students needing extra help in their classes.
- Veracross (JPII’s online grade book): Parents are encouraged to track their child’s academic progress through Veracross. Veracross provides access for students and parents to view assignments, grades, and teacher comments.
- Homework: Developing good habits in homework is an essential skill that reinforces class objectives and helps students become independent learners. It is also a stumbling block for many freshmen, due to lack of organizational skills or in some cases, a prior history where missing homework had little academic consequence. As a rule of thumb, freshmen should have 90 minutes of homework each night, though it will vary depending on the student and the curriculum he or she is taking. Parents are encouraged to institute the “90 minute policy” in their homes. For each school night, freshmen should be required to sit doing 90 minutes of homework at a quiet place in the home, even if they say “they don’t have any/that much”. There are always tests on the near horizon, readings to complete, etc. Developing good homework habits in 9th grade is crucial to future success.
Communication: A key to students’ early success in high school is good communication between parents and teachers and trust in both directions. The school will sponsor end of quarter conferences with freshman teachers, via appointment, and parents are strongly encouraged to attend these as a “check-point” on how their child is adjusting to high school life. Emailing from teacher to parent or parent to teacher is a good way to establish first contact, but if there are issues that persist or need resolving, we ask that these be addressed through face-to-face meetings with the teacher and the student’s advisor. We want to support each other!
The Social Dimension: Though friendships can be formed in the classroom, most often, lasting friendships are formed by alliance with other students who share common interests and goals and who participate in common extra-curricular activities, be they athletic teams, academic teams, community service organizations, or other school sponsored activities. JPII has endeavored to foster a rich, diverse extra-curricular life with “something for everyone”. In the early fall, all of the student organizations and athletic teams will sponsor an “activity fair” which introduces students to the vast array of choices and invites them to join. In addition, students are encouraged to complete their Christian Service Internship in tandem with other freshman students so as to build camaraderie with classmates (and help with carpools!). We encourage freshmen to attend athletic events to cheer for their schoolmates to build pride and enthusiasm for the school.
- All freshmen are expected to join at least one extra-curricular club, academic or athletic team during their freshman year. (If this activity or team begins in the spring, we encourage freshmen to join something that begins earlier, too, as a way to get involved sooner.)
- House Structure and Games: Every student is placed in one of six “Houses” at JPII, each comprised of seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen and led by student leaders and faculty “Housemasters”. Each House is further divided into Advisory groups of mixed ages, providing freshmen the opportunity to belong to smaller communities and build relationships with other students. Houses compete in quarterly “House Games” and various academic/community service contests throughout the year in an effort to win the cherished “House Cup” each year.
The Religious Dimension: St. Irenaeus once said, “The glory of God is the human person fully alive”. We believe that when students are balanced in their academic, social and religious commitments, their lives are filled with a sense of rectitude and purpose, which makes them joyful. We believe that teenagers are naturally idealistic, with a desire to help others and make a difference if they can be connected to things that matter. In our theology program, we seek to introduce students to the ancient, universal truths of our Christian faith in a manner that challenges their minds and eventually, through their active participation in a Christian community over four years, affects their hearts.
Freshmen join with the rest of the student body in weekly Mass. We begin each day with a student-led prayer over the intercom. Ballgames begin with prayer, both publicly and in team prayer in the locker rooms. The freshmen start the year in a retreat together, built around prayer. In our Christian Service Internship program, required of all students, freshmen are required to complete 15 service hours. Through our academic integrity policy, “Veritas”, our Health/P.E. curriculum, and through other initiatives, they are encouraged to live morally. They may join numerous clubs here whose explicit purpose is to serve others. Religious symbols and scripture verses permeate the campus, reminding freshmen of their ultimate purpose and the mission of JPII.