An Extraordinary Place
by Dr. Joseph D. Hollowell, 12 mos ago
May I start the first column of the new year with an old message? Roncalli High School is an extraordinary place. And as they say, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up!” And how can I back it up? Consider a few facts. Our students have accomplished an extraordinary number of unusual feats – things which no other school in the state has accomplished.
By now anyone who reads the sports pages knows that the 2004 Rebel football team won their third straight 4A State Championship (never been done in 4A). They also won the school’s eighth football state championship (more than any other school in Indiana). But that is simply the latest in a long line of unprecedented feats.
Regular readers of this newsletter know that in 2003 Roncalli became the first school in Indiana to be recognized by the U. S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence for a third time. Previously, the same program recognized Roncalli’s Service Learning program as one of the top five in the nation. Since there are over 20,000 high schools in the country, this is an extraordinary honor. Our service learning program has also been recognized as the top program in the nation by the Concerned Businessmen of America in its Set A Good Example awards program. Yes, you read that right. The top school in the nation.
Speaking of tops in the nation, perhaps you have heard of the extraordinary feat of our students who work under the tutelage of Mr. Jim Ratliff in our Industrial Technology program. For the past three years a Roncalli student has been declared the National Champion in the NAWIC architectural design competition. Only one other school in the country has had three national winners in the history of the program!
As of this writing we don’t have our most recent ISTEP results but over the past three years our students have tested at the very top level for schools with nonselective enrollment. Last year our students scored higher than any other private school in the state with open enrollment. Speaking of academic awards, the most prestigious academic award given in the State of Indiana is to be named an Indiana Academic All-Star. Forty graduating students are selected each year from around the state. In the eighteen years of the program, Roncalli has had nine students named to this elite group of scholars. Of the over 400 high schools in the state only five have had more.
I could go on and on. Prelude Award winners in the Arts, ISSMA Jazz Band titles, Martin Luther King Jr. essay winners, and the list doesn’t stop there but you get the idea. Our students are achieving at an astounding level of excellence with a degree of consistency that is mind boggling.
I have thought a lot about why our students seem to achieve such extraordinary results in academics, the arts, athletically, and most importantly, as life-long learners in service to others. My theory, perhaps you have your own, is as follows:
- our students come from families who, over generations, have put a priority on achieving excellence through hard work,
- our teachers have dedicated their lives to attaining a degree of professional excellence that inspires young people to be their best,
- we provide an environment which encourages students to cherish their dreams and to chase their dreams with passion, and finally
- we provide an environment that is bathed in prayer that asks God to bless our work every step of the way.
I hope that each of you who sacrifice so much to make the things we do with our students possible will take some special degree of satisfaction in knowing that Roncalli is truly the most extraordinary high school around. I know this is a bold statement but, as they say, “It ain’t braggin if you can back it up!"