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Words from Walcott Street
On June 15, 2017
Words from Walcott Street is the blog about Saint Raphael Academy, written by Principal Dan Richard. We hope it gives you some insight into our wonderful school community.
June 15, 2017
Yesterday marked the end to another amazing school year at Saint Raphael Academy. I was so impressed by all of our students during the last week. Our graduates, the Class of 2017, showed a new level of maturity during their last week at Saint Raphael Academy. They were where they needed to be through a long weekend of practices and events and maintained a professional attitude throughout Senior Week … well done!
Our underclassmen also took care of business during finals week. I was extremely pleased that every student who came to school on Tuesday returned their Saints computer and charger; almost 350 computers were brought in on that day. Where else would that happen but at SRA?
As the students leave us this week, it is now time to make some modifications and renovations to our grounds (more about that later this summer). Every year, it is my goal to improve your child’s experience at Saint Raphael Academy—academically, socially, athletically and spiritually.
I hope everyone has a safe, relaxing and productive summer. I look forward to seeing everyone back on Walcott Street for orientation at the end of August (exact dates will be forthcoming).
Have a great summer!
June 2, 2017
There are many days I love my job at Saint Raphael Academy—perhaps no day more than yesterday. We as a community had the opportunity to celebrate the Senior Awards Assembly with the Class of 2017. It is always a special time when you can recognize the many accomplishments of your students, and the Class of 2017 is a very distinguished group.
Throughout the morning, our seniors were highlighted for their academic and athletic achievements throughout their school years at Saint Raphael Academy (and there were a lot!). Our thespians were also lauded for their amazing accomplishments, including another RI State Drama championship and an incredible performance of “Sister Act” earlier this fall. But perhaps most importantly they were recognized for the young men and women they have become over the past four years. Whether providing thousands of hours of community service as a class, or working together to win Saints Olympics, the Class of 2017 has a very tight bond. As the Class of 2017 finishes up at SRA, they should be very proud of their accomplishments and the legacy they leave behind. Well done!
I almost forgot about the purple hair. A lesson I seem to forget almost yearly—never dare a group of high school students! The challenge was for the Saints seniors to improve their SAT scores for this year. The goal was met! The Class of 2017 earned the highest SAT scores at SRA in the last two decades. With that accomplishment, I proudly wore purple spiked hair for their day!
May 5, 2017
Today is the last day of Teacher Appreciation Week for this academic year. We certainly have many wonderful faculty members at Saint Raphael Academy and it was my distinct honor to recognize them throughout the week. Our faculty do much more than just instruct students and ensure they know facts, dates or mathematical equations. The SRA faculty are committed to the development of the whole student, and I see it every day at the Academy. Your child is known by their SRA teachers, and they spent a great deal of time and effort highlighting your child’s strengths and shoring up their possible academic challenges. That attention to detail is one reason Saint Raphael Academy is so special!
As I have previously stated, we have an amazing faculty at our school; however, one teacher needs to be lauded and acknowledged. Mr. Terry Murray has been part of our Saints community for many years (exact amount of years will be purposely omitted!) and he is a tremendous teacher, mentor and ambassador for our Academy. In the classroom, Mr. Murray is tough (ask any 10th grade Honors student), but fair. He sets high academic expectations for his students and helps them achieve greatness. I can’t even remember all of the faculty members he has mentored throughout the school community, both officially and unofficially. I think we all would agree he has seen a lot and he’s willing to share his lessons learned.
Lastly, when it comes to our Drama program, we have wonderful faculty support, but Mr. Murray has a legacy all his own. The Saints Drama program is simply the top high school unit in Rhode Island! Mr. Murray has been part of this awesome organization for many years and he encourages excellence on and off the stage. But being part of Saints Drama is more than winning State Championships; it’s about teamwork, dedication and personal growth.
This desire to develop your child into the best they can be is personified at Saint Raphael Academy with Mr. Murray. But I see it in all of our teachers new and “mature;” so to all of our wonderful faculty … THANK YOU for everything you do for our students throughout the entire year! Your efforts are appreciated!
March 31, 2017
We have all survived March Madness! The Saints Olympics was an overwhelming success and the senior class once again concluded the week as the Saints champions! However, the real champions were all the Saints students who worked so diligently to help others who are less fortunate than ourselves. During the week, all the classes raised money to help the American Kidney Fund and the students at our sister school in Kenya. Additionally, food items and much-needed supplies were collected for the Rhode Island Food Bank and the Ronald McDonald House. It is always a great feeling to see our students—and their families—reach out and aid others in need. Great job by all participants!
The month of March also saw our winter athletes excel! Both the boys and girls basketball teams made the Rhode Island state tournament, with the boys finishing runner-up in a very exciting state championship game. Our cheerleaders also had a great post-season, making it to the New England championship—great job, young ladies. Our co-op hockey team once again excelled, making it into the state tournament. Last but not least, our two track teams were both one victory away from a perfect season. Great job by all of our athletes!
As I’m typing my blog on the last day of March, it is hard to realize that we are 10 days into the spring season. It is also difficult to acknowledge that we are entering the first day of the fourth quarter! I encourage the students to keep their focus on their academic work as the days gradually get warmer. (I am also counting on the parents to echo these words.) If you need an example, what would have happened in Super Bowl LI if Tom Brady lost his focus with 15 minutes left in the game? It certainly wouldn’t have been the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history!
So far, this has been a great year at Saint Raphael Academy; let’s all finish it with style and class!
March 10, 2017
Bring on March Madness! No, I’m not talking about the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournament. Instead, we have our own “March Madness,” and it is happening all next week on Walcott Street. The best way to explain the event is that it’s a combination between a Spirit Week and a week-long community service project. This year, the SRA student body will be financially supporting their Twinning School in Kenya, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank with donated food items (think peanut butter) and the Ronald McDonald House with much-needed items. I hope everyone gets involved in this extremely important project; did I mention there were bragging rights among the four classes?
The schedule of events for the week is listed on our website; I am looking forward to one of my favorite weeks of the school year. Good luck to all of the classes!
February 24, 2017
Greetings from China! I have spent the last week here and it has been exciting, exhilarating and exhausting! Exciting because I have met some of the families of our current Chinese students.
Exhilarating because I’ve gone to parts of the world and places in China I never dreamed I would be able to see. Lastly, certainly exhausting due to a 16-hour flight and very long days to visit all the people and wonderful things this country has to offer.
Currently I am located in one of the most westerly cities in China (Urumqi). It is very different from the eastern part of China. In Urumqi, there are 25,000-foot mountain peaks and more than two feet of snow of the ground. Tonight the temperature will be hovering around zero! Just like the United States, China has vastly different climates and cultures.
One of the main reasons I am visiting China is to speak with potential students about coming to SRA. During my visit, I have met many wonderful students who would be great additions to our Academy. I hope to see many of them on Walcott Street later this fall.
A highlight of my trip was visiting a Chinese high school and middle school. The students and staff couldn’t have been more gracious. I visited the classrooms and interacted with their students; their English is much better than my Chinese! Their educational system is much different than ours, but it is very effective for their students.
However, my favorite part so far has been visiting with our Chinese students’ parents. They were very gracious and kind to me and I appreciated their hospitality. Many travelled hundreds of miles to learn more about our school. Like parents in the U.S., they want what is best for their child. They are very proud of their sons and daughters, as well as Saint Raphael Academy.
As I get ready to return to school on Monday, I can’t help but think how amazing it is that we are all able to learn from one another at SRA. We truly are a melting pot of people and ideas. And as much as I love traveling and visiting interesting people and places, I cannot wait to be back home. I miss my own family and my Saints family; be safe and I will see everyone soon.
February 3, 2017
It is Super Bowl weekend; I think everyone is very excited about the upcoming game. I know I am! During the last week, the Saints community celebrated Catholic Schools Week, and we highlighted our wonderful students, their dedicated parents and the amazing SRA faculty and staff. This made me stop and think: what does Coach Belichick always say about his team? “You must do your job and be successful in all three phases of the game (offense, defense and special teams).” I think Saint Raphael Academy is also comprised of a winning team, and our three elements are our students, parents and SRA personnel!
Our students amaze me every day. They are diligent and hardworking young men and women who strive to do their best. Additionally, they care for one another and collectively work together for the betterment of all. Our parents go the “extra mile” to insure their children are prepared for life after Saint Raphael Academy. Their strong commitment to their sons and daughters is evident and it motivates me daily. Last but not least are our faculty and staff. The SRA personnel work tirelessly to make certain their students thrive in our academic environment. But more importantly, they truly get to know their students and help them become the person God wanted them to be!
The Patriots have a great winning tradition, and I wish them all the luck in the world on Sunday; however, I think what all of us do every day at Saints is pretty Super!
January 27, 2017
At Saint Raphael Academy, I have the wonderful opportunity to interact daily with incredible students, an immensely talented faculty, and a top-notch staff all dedicated to the mission and charism of Saint John Baptist de La Salle. Today I’d like to highlight two very special members of our community who have really dedicated their lives to Saint Raphael Academy. In many ways they are very different; one resides on the “West” part of campus and is a great listener; the other works his magic on the “East” side of our campus and he is an imposing figure in Alumni Hall. However, both Sister Regina Brennan and Coach Thomas “Saar” Sorrentine have had an incredible positive impact on so many of our students at Saint Raphael Academy.
It seems fitting that we spend some time talking about these two awesome Saints. Last weekend, many of our seniors attended the annual ECHO (Encountering Christ In Others) retreat in Connecticut. Sister Regina has been involved with this retreat since its inception at SRA. Until several years ago, she was the point person who ran the retreat, and she still does an amazing job mentoring and assisting all of the ECHO retreat personnel. When you talk to any SRA alumni who attended ECHO, I guarantee you there will be stories about how Sister Regina made the retreat “come to life” for their class!
Sister is also the catalyst for the Junior Explorer Day that happens every semester. The Junior Explorer event is when Saints alumni come back to the Academy and speak to our juniors about their careers. She is the perfect person to run this program because … what alumni would say no to Sister Regina? We are thrilled to have Sister Regina part of the Saints community, and others within the Diocese agree! Several years ago, Sister Regina Brennan was a Lumen Gentium award winner from the Diocese of Providence. Sister Regina, thank you for everything you do for our students at our Academy!
This is also a great time to acknowledge the accomplishments of Coach “Saar.” Earlier this week, he was highlighted by the Providence Journal for his coaching acumen. Saar has been coaching basketball and baseball players at Saint Raphael Academy for more than three decades. I have had the opportunity to get to know Coach, and he is an individual who promotes the values of hard work and dedication to his players. If you want to play for “Saar,” you’d better be there every day, willing to work and committed to the team. Wonderful attributes for our young men to learn at a young age! Saar has also been very successful over the years, garnering numerous Rhode Island state championships titles and being recognized and inducted into the Rhode Island and New England Basketball Hall of Fame. Our student-athletes are so fortunate to play for a coach like “Saar” Sorrentine.
Sister Regina and Coach Sorrentine use different skill sets to shape and mold our students. However, using a term from Saint John Baptist de La Salle, they both “touch the hearts of the students under their care.” As the principal of SRA, I am so thankful they are part of our Saints family!
January 6, 2017
Happy 2017! Wow, it is amazing how fast time goes by. Am I the only one who remembers the confusion associated with Y2K?
January is an exciting time of year at Saint Raphael Academy. The start of the 2017 calendar year has special meaning for our seniors, as this is the year they will graduate. It is an exciting time, but for some it is also a bit melancholy. Graduation is on the horizon and with it comes tremendous change. We all enjoy the daily updates from our soon-to-be-graduates that will determine where they will be heading next fall.
After enjoying some well-deserved time off, our students and faculty are back in the classroom and are busy preparing for midterm exams. Just a reminder: midterms will run from Tuesday, January 17, through Friday, January 20. There are two tests each day. The first exam begins at 8:00 am, the second exam begins at 10:15 am and dismissal is at 12:15 pm. Please note that there will be no lunch served during the entire week.
While our current students are busy taking exams, the Admissions Committee will be meeting to determine who will be invited to become members of the Class of 2021! Our Admissions Office has done an amazing job (as always!) of promoting our Academy, and we are all very excited about the potential incoming class. The eighth grade applicants are an intelligent, talented, diverse group of students who are eager to join the Saints family. Here is when I ask for your help! If you know of any students that are in the process of selecting which high school they will attend next year, please be an SRA ambassador! Families value the opinions of current families and like to hear of the experiences that you and your child have had. Often times, you can be our best ambassador.
I hope everyone has a great 2017, and I can’t wait to see what the New Year brings to our Saints family!
December 22, 2016
The Christmas season is now HERE! The Academy is now closed until 2017 and the students departed earlier today excited for the upcoming break and the hope of wonderful presents from Santa. The first four months of the school year have been very special at Saint Raphael Academy: the new technology has been exciting, the buildings and grounds look amazing, and the students have excelled at every level … in the classroom, on the playing fields and certainly on the stage.
We all have many reasons to be thankful at this time of the year. For me personally, it has been a great last few months. I was recently blessed with my first granddaughter; I will meet her tomorrow! At Saint Raphael Academy, I work with an amazing group of educators who will do anything to help your child to be successful as a Saint. The students (your children) who walk our halls motivate me every single day. They are young men and women of character who try to do the right thing every day; they aren’t all perfect … but they are working at it. You should be very proud of them. During the past five years, I’ve never met a student who was disrespectful to me. That doesn’t happen at other high schools.
All of the above items add to the richness of my life, but Christmas morning defines who I am. That is the one gift I always hold very dearly to my heart. The birth of Jesus is like the North Star; it has always guided me throughout the good times and the bad times of my life.
I hope all of you have a blessed and enjoyable Christmas Day! I look forward to what 2017 will bring for all of us.
October 21, 2016
I always forget how beautiful it looks on Walcott Street in mid-October. The weather is still enjoyable (like this week) and the trees are just beginning to show their autumnal colors. With a gentle wind, the leaves decorate the surrounding landscape. These upcoming weeks are fleeting; before you know it, the sun will be setting late afternoon and the kaleidoscope of fall colors will be gone! Fortunately, the Quality Hill section of Pawtucket will always maintain two colors: purple & gold!
Last week, the students at Saint Raphael showed off their Saints Spirit throughout the entire Homecoming Week. Each day presented a different theme for the students, and they did an awesome job showing off their style. The week culminated with a very busy Friday and Saturday. On Friday, October 14, the entire Saints community participated in the Saints Walk-A-Thon (A HUGE thank you to all the parents who helped) and it was an overwhelming success. Prior to ending the school day, we celebrated all fall sports with a pep rally in Alumni Hall. Later that evening, the Saints football team defeated a very motivated team from Woonsocket High School. A Saints Homecoming Week wouldn’t be complete without a dance; and we had almost 300 students in attendance on Saturday evening. The Homecoming Week was a tremendous success!
This week, we quickly switched gears. For the students, their focus was on the PSATs that were administered to all underclass students on Wednesday, October 19. Many of our younger students are also participating in our Saints For A Day program, but this time, they are the Ambassadors! Yes, we have received a large amount of interest from the Class of 2021 to come and visit our campus. Also this week, we are busily preparing for our annual fundraiser: Saints Stroll. This amazing event is occurring tomorrow night (Saturday, October 22, at 6 o’clock. If you are interested, there may still be tickets available if you act quickly. This event doesn’t happen without the Saints Parent Association, so once again a BIG thank you to all the parents involved in this great night of fellowship. I hope to see you there!
One quick reminder: next week we will be celebrating the Junior Ring Ceremony on Wednesday, October 26, at 7:00 pm in St. Joseph’s Church. I look forward to seeing all members of the Class of 2018 (and families) in attendance for this very special evening.
September 23, 2016
Autumn is now here and before you know it, September is going to be behind us and we will be ready to celebrate the wonderful month of October. October is always one of my favorite months—there is a certain coolness in the air, and who doesn’t love football and Halloween? It is also an extremely busy time at Saint Raphael Academy. Below are some of the BIG events occurring next month, so please highlight your family calendars!
October 2 – Our first Open House for the Class of 2021! As I said a couple of weeks ago, if you know of any 7th or 8th graders interested in attending SRA, please encourage them to attend this very special event in Alumni Hall from 12:00 -3:00 pm.
October 7 – There will be no school on this day for SRA students. The entire SRA faculty and staff will be using one of our professional development days to attend a school-wide retreat off campus. This is always an important day on our school calendar; the entire community comes together for fellowship and personal growth.
October 11 – 15 – Saints Homecoming Week: This is a week when all of the Saint students are encouraged to show off their Saints spirit and pride. Anticipate more information to follow; also each day that week will have a specific theme.
October 14 – The Saints Walk-A-Thon: this is a fundraiser for the students and an opportunity for the students to bond together. You will be receiving more guidance in the mail and also on our website. Your support would be greatly appreciated.
October 19 – PSAT Day for all underclass students. The seniors will be excused on this day and they are highly encouraged to use this time to visit colleges and universities within the local area. All 9th, 10th and 11th graders will be taking the PSAT at Saint Raphael Academy. No lunches will be served and they will be dismissed from school at approximately 12:30 pm. THIS WILL BE A NORMAL START DAY; school will begin at 8:00 am!
October 22 – Saints Stroll: Our annual fundraiser is a fun evening for adults. The night starts at 6:30 in the Coutu Theater and we stroll Walcott Street to Alumni Hall. There is food, drinks, dancing and wonderful auction items. Look on our website for more details … it is one of my favorite events at Saint Raphael Academy. I hope to see you there!
October 26 – The Junior Ring Ceremony takes place in St. Joseph Church for the Class of 2018. All juniors are invited and all students will receive a gift at the church. Expect more details to follow.
As you can tell, the month of October is going to be busy. For the Saints students, the end of October also means the end of the first quarter, so keep your focus on your studies. Saints parents—your support with both the upcoming events and your child’s academic efforts would be greatly appreciated.
September 16, 2016
We are very excited to welcome special guests to our campus on Monday: Bishop Tobin and multiple priests from throughout the Diocese of Providence will be celebrating the Opening School Mass with the Saints community. It is always wonderful to have Bishop Tobin on campus with our students; his sermons engage our students and challenge our entire Saints family. Additionally, the students always sit up a little straighter in the pews and listen a little more intently to the Mass when the bishop is presiding over the service! I look forward to Monday, and once again a very special welcome to all of our special guests.
Enjoy your weekend!
September 9, 2016
Whether you are a teacher/staff, student, parent or alumni, you are a key member of the Saints family. All of you contribute to the vitality at Saint Raphael Academy, and there’s something more you can do to continue that. Once again, it is that time of the year when we welcome new Saints into our community. Our Open House is on Sunday, October 2, from 12:00 – 3:00, and it would be wonderful if you could all champion the virtues of this amazing Academy. I suspect most—if not all—of you have a friend, family member or a neighbor heading to high school this year … why not Saint Raphael Academy? I need you to be our Saints ambassadors throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts! When speaking with prospective students, feel free to highlight the awesome teachers we have, the wonderful brand-new facilities on campus, and the opportunity to enjoy fresh air throughout the day on Walcott Street. Our new technology is second-to-none and our renovated West Building makes us a true 21st-century learning environment.
In conclusion, please “talk up” the amazing things that are happening daily on Walcott Street. We are ready and waiting to welcome the new students in the Class of 2021 on Sunday, October 2!
September 2, 2016
Happy September, Saints!
Well, we are off and running! I think all of the students love the new West Building, and the HP computers look like a huge hit! I have to admit the West Building looks beautiful; the designers and builders did a tremendous job bringing the building into the 21st century while maintaining its classic beauty. The computer distribution to the students was very successful and overall I couldn’t be happier with the first week of school. We still have some minor issues to work out, but that is to be expected during the first week.
Every year I get energized by the spirit and enthusiasm of the Saints students! This year is no different; it is obvious to all they are excited to be here and be among their Saints family once again. I have also been very impressed with our new transfer students and the members of the Class of 2020. Both groups have quickly assimilated themselves in our community, and I’m expecting big things from all of them!
Speaking of high expectations, I truly believe all of our sport teams are poised for outstanding seasons. Almost all of our teams have had a surge in participation, and that is always a great sign of upcoming success. As we get ready to enjoy the three-day weekend, I hope everyone gets an opportunity to enjoy their friends and family before we say goodbye to summer. I am extremely optimistic about the upcoming school year, and I know our students are ready for the multiple challenges that await them.
Be safe over the weekend, and remember that Mr. Casey Sherman (co-author of “The Finest Hours”) will be joining us when we all return on Tuesday, September 6.
August 26, 2016
Welcome to the 2016-2017 academic year! Everyone on Walcott Street is so excited for the start of the school year. It has been a very busy summer at the Academy, but an extremely productive one. First and foremost, all of our students can now put a Hewlett Packard laptop into their bookbag every morning prior to leaving for Saint Raphael Academy. After months of technology training for the faculty and rebuilding the IT infrastructure at our school, we are thrilled to have a true 1:1 environment at Saint Raphael Academy. We are also pleased to be working in partnership with all of our parents to insure our students are well-educated digital citizens; a much needed skill in the challenging realm of today’s technology-driven world.
I am also very excited to announce that all of the renovations are completed in our West Building. The purpose of the construction was to update the building and make it more aligned to the core values of 21st century learning: collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. I knew we hit the mark when I heard one of our students who was leaving a renovated classroom declare, “The room looks so high tech!” I must admit the new furniture, new SMART Board interactive flat panels and white boards combined with freshly remodeled rooms certainly makes it more conducive for learning.
One item the students love are the new “water coolers” on each floor. Replacing the water bubblers, the coolers provide filtered and refrigerated water for your child. If you are on campus and you’d like a quick tour, come see me and we’ll walk the halls together.
I am also very happy to announce the Academy is growing for the 5th straight year in a row! We have a very impressive class of freshmen entering the school, and the Class of 2020 has the potential to be an outstanding class. I have also been watching our fall sport teams practice and I have a feeling this is going to be a banner fall season for Saints athletics.
The last group I’d like to highlight are our Saints parents and guardians. I’d like to thank you for entrusting your sons and daughters to our care. All of us at Saint Raphael Academy are charged with the day-to-day nurturing of your child, and we strive to inspire your child to be the best they can be!
I look forward to seeing you at the intersection of Walcott and Maynard!