Goal 4 in Action!
Jenny McGovern, 6th Grade Level Lead, 6A Humanities

Students associate Goal 4 with congé, goûter, class trips, spirit rallies and all the fun of Forest Ridge. Play and fun is part of Goal 4 of Sacred Heart education, but a recent reading of the criteria reminded me that Goal 4 pushes us beyond having fun together. Goal 4 speaks to connecting all members of our community to each other and to the Network of Sacred Heart schools and outlines the ways we all are called to create connection. Goal 4 encourages us to make each member of our community feel they BELONG here, not just that we create space for them to fit in, but that we wouldn’t be complete without them. Our Convocation ceremony is an annual reminder of this. This first day of school tradition, when we call the name of each member of the community-students, teachers and staff, Board members, alumnae and parents- we are saying that we can’t be a community without each of us.

One of the first times I felt a connection to the Sacred Heart Network was at an all-schools audio conference call in the theater many years ago- when a sound-only phone call was cutting-edge technology! The sound was glitchy and there was a lag between saying something and being heard, but as each school’s name was called and a picture of their school was projected on the screen, you could (eventually) hear cheers come through the line as that school’s students and teachers reflected their excitement to be part of the call. It was the first moment I realized that I wasn’t just part of this school on a forested hill, but part of something much larger around the country, around the world, and through history. I felt uniquely connected to the mission of all Sacred Heart schools and the enduring vision of St. Madeline Sophie.

The criteria enumerated under Goal 4 speak to inclusion, respect, safety, reconciliation, equity and diversity. There are challenges to us there- to hire adults that look like our students, to ensure diversity of students, to aim for representation of all of our students, families and staff in our programming and curriculum. As a white, Catholic woman it has been easy for me to feel I belong at Forest Ridge. Goal 4 calls me to make sure our neurodivergent, non-Christian, and lgbtq+ students also feel seen and understood. Our students for whom English is not their first language, our students of color, our students who may be the first of their family to go to college, all belong to our community.

In a few months, the sixth-grade class will make their annual trip together to Camp Orkila. We will take beach walks, perform skits, share kitchen duty, look at water samples under microscopes and bond with high school counselors. Our class trip is Goal 4 in action. Goal 4 is also reflected in financial aid for camp scholarships and in a hug for homesick students. Goal 4 is lived out when students feel a part of their cabin, their class, their school and the natural world. It is creating opportunities, so every student believes that we need each of their contributions to our world.