Skip to main content

Sacred Heart focused on supporting families from a multitude of countries, faiths, cultures

With a commitment to academic excellence and a strong mission to help its students build a solid foundation for life, Sacred Heart School is home to a growing student population that reflects the diversity of the largest city in our region

This commitment is what convinced Daddy Mata to choose Sacred Heart for his son, Steven, when his family moved to Halifax. From his son’s first day in Grade 8, Daddy says Steven knew he had found an atmosphere where he could reach his full potential. 

Steven had no trouble embracing the school’s global philosophy since his family is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo and he began his schooling in Japan. Despite the fact Japanese was not his first language, Steven was an A+ student when the family moved to Toronto where he was enrolled in the public school system. Now finding himself studying in English for the first time, Daddy notes his son’s average dropped slightly, but the small class sizes at Sacred Heart have helped him regain that lost academic ground as he works towards his goal of becoming a physician. 

“I was looking for a school with a strong academic reputation,” Daddy says. “I also liked the fact Sacred Heart offers a strong moral code to live by.” 

Steven is now in Grade 11 and is enrolled in the Advanced Placement (AP) program, which offers courses at the first-year university level. Sacred Heart is the only school in the region offering the AP designation. The program is augmented by educational travel, online courses, and experiential learning with specialists. 

“The beauty of the AP program is it allows students to pick and choose only those subjects they want to concentrate on,” says Sr. Anne Wachter, RSCJ, Head of School. “Students don’t have to take a year-long program of all advanced courses; there’s more balance with this approach that can be tailored individually.”  

Another benefit is that with a score of four or five on an exam, a student will have a first-year university credit before they even enter university. 

Another distinguishing aspect of Sacred Heart’s program is it’s the only school in the region that offers a co-ed learning environment for students in Junior Primary to Grade 6 and single-gender education in Grades 7 to 12. The single-gender classes allow the school to focus its teaching methods to help students reach their maximum potential, especially given that girls and boys learn differently. Yet, there’s a multitude of opportunities for co-ed interaction outside of the classroom, such as during lunchtime and co-curricular activities, and in clubs such as band, choir, musicals, and debate. 

Daddy says Steven has enjoyed having only boys in his class and that this, plus all of the other factors, add up to a well-rounded education for his son. One that is also teaching leadership, social justice, and compassion, all of which he feels is important for Steven’s future. 

Daddy is now looking at enrolling his three other children at Sacred Heart, saying, “I really like the family feeling the school offers and Steven has made a lot of good friends there.” 

For the Shen family, music has always been a big part of their life. Jay Shen is happy his two sons have an opportunity to reach their full potential both musically and academically at Sacred Heart. His eldest son Kaden is in Grade 7 while his brother Alan is in Grade 5. They have both been at Sacred Heart for three years and Jay says both boys want to stay until graduation. 

“They really like the small class sizes and they have plenty of friends,” Jay says. “It has such a family atmosphere.” 

He credits the “incredible” music department at the school for helping his boys achieve musical success over the past three years. Both Kaden and Alan have won awards at the provincial, regional, and national levels. Whether his two sons ultimately decide to pursue a career in music or not, he is confident their Sacred Heart experience will prove to be a foundation for success regardless of the path they choose in life. 

For Kaden, this marks his first year in the single-gender Senior School, and his father is happy his son has thrived in the setting and as a class representative. He also recently won the school spelling bee and went on to represent Sacred Heart in the Atlantic regional final where he again finished on top.  

“That was just one of the many opportunities Sacred Heart has offered my boys,” Jay says. 

The Mata and Shen families are just two of many at Sacred Heart who reflect global diversity in both the school’s outlook and makeup. Thanks to a recent capital campaign with an emphasis on bursary support, and a concerted effort to increase representation across geographic and socioeconomic levels, there are families from a multitude of countries, faiths, and cultures. All of which are important inside and outside the classroom in terms of diverse perspectives and voices. One more advantage of a Sacred Heart education.  

Andy Walker

Andy Walker has been a journalist in PEI for over 30 years. After a career working for both PEI's daily newspapers, covering everything from the provincial legislature to hockey games, he has been a full-time freelance writer since 1997. Andy has been editor of the Island Farmer, a biweekly publication which covers the agriculture scene, since 2000. He and his wife, Angela, have four adult children and they reside in Cornwall.

Leave a Reply