THE MEGAPHONE

Administrator confident in school’s re-accreditation

Visiting team members observe, evaluate school

Maddie Wirth, Reporter

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The job is complete. Now, the wait begins.

Mr. Dennis Thomas, vice principal for academics, has concluded his duty of coordinating a visit from the Independent Schools Association of the Central States. The association’s job is to evaluate a school’s mission statement and determine if the school is applying the mission for proper accreditation. Thomas spent hours in preparation for ISACS’ 16 visitors and he values each bit of what he called their “time, skills and expertise,” and what each piece has done for the school.

The 16-member team arrived on Nov. 11, and some stayed until their overview presentation on the afternoon of Nov. 14. The final meeting compiled “each of their reports and observations,” in both strengths and areas to improve, according to Thomas.

The ISACS team’s job is “to look at a snapshot of Cathedral right now.” Thomas continued, “We can and should always work on being better. We reflect on, ‘How can we further develop being the Catholic high school of the future?’”

In return, the team of visitors presented three areas to improve and were impressed with other aspects of the school. The team noted that “(we) need to be bolder in our education philosophy,” said Thomas. “We need to be more intentional in being the Catholic high school of the future.” Members added concerns of enrollment declines, but Thomas said he thinks that if the school is more collaborative in education philosophy, these other worries “will fall into place.”

The new construction of the STEM building will also further the development of educational philosophy.

On the flip side, Thomas said, “The visitors were very impressed with our diversity—ethnically, geographically and socioeconomically. We exceed the needs. This was a huge takeaway and we are highly regarded of fulfilling this part in the school’s mission.” He continued to say that the visitors were inspired by the tradition in the school’s 100-year milestone.

Thomas’s favorite part of the visit was his realization of “how many great things our school does. So many pieces come together to make Cathedral great.” He added, “We forget that we do a lot of things that are not normal at other schools.” The ISACS team arrived on a Sunday during which time the campus was alive with the buzz of middle school CYO football on the turf and the happenings of the fall play.

But to outsiders, “these things aren’t actually normal.”

“We are different from other independent schools. Our load (as teachers) is heavier. The students take on a little extra. There’s just more energy here,” Thomas said.

After the full report is presented, it is given to the school to check facts. After the school completes this task, the report is then sent to the ISACS board, which will make the final determination regarding accreditation. Thomas said he expects the decision will make its way back to the Hill in February.

Another huge impact on this project for Thomas included his ability to listen about other members’ schools. He is driven by an idea from an ISACS visitors and wants to pursue professional development with technology.

To students and some faculty, it may have appeared as some strangers checking out the campus, but a deeper look would quickly show that they were actually making this school better.

But that’s not even the best part. Some of the representatives kept their lanyards.

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