This past year and a half the Bishop Fenwick High School community was dramatically challenged, and daily life was drastically impacted. However, with the challenges presented, we seized the opportunity to find new ways to transform student lives and think about our future by re-engaging in the “Building on Excellence” initiative.
In the Fall of 2019, Fenwick embarked on a process entitled, “Building on Excellence” (BoE). The purpose of the process was to enlist the perspectives of our constituents through key focus groups who assembled to examine Fenwick’s past, present, and future, with a specific focus on the following:
- Critically assess and evaluate several key areas of our school
- Meaningfully engage as many of our constituents as possible
- Educate and inform our constituency regarding where the school is presently in critical areas within the school and its programs
- Create a forum to provide our constituency the opportunity to provide candid input and feedback
To accomplish this, each focus group consisted of an internal chair (staff member) and an external chair (community member). In addition, 130+ members of the Fenwick Family – including faculty/staff, alumni, current/past/future parents, friends of Fenwick, and community members at large – participated in the focus groups.
As you can imagine an extraordinary amount of input, feedback, and suggestions were gathered from this process, which was specific to the following areas:
- Academics & Curriculum
- Student Activities & Co-curricular Opportunities
- Campus & Facilities
- Marketing, Communications, & Brand Management
- Community Engagement
- Enrollment Management
- Student Life & Culture
- Faith Formation & Community Service
We analyzed and compiled the results of each grouping and shared the data with our constituency in February 2020. However, the world came to a standstill on March 13, 2020, on the heels of an impending global pandemic. The global pandemic caused massive disruption to our daily personal and professional lives. As a result, the BoE process was put on pause as we dealt with the pressing needs of our students, families, and teachers while navigating our new normal. Our community was tasked with adjusting to a remote learning environment for the duration of the 2019-2020 school year.
As we entered the 2020-2021 school year, much uncertainty arose surrounding whether classes would be held in person with mitigation efforts in place, remotely, or via a hybrid learning scenario. Fenwick boldly undertook the challenges of putting protocols in place to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of all our students and faculty and staff. We began school with in-person classes on August 18, 2020, and due to incredibly precautious, strategic measures we were in-person 95% of the days this year. Thanks to the cooperation, diligence, and perseverance of our students and faculty and staff we accomplished much in the 2020-2021 school year. Here are a few examples:
- Academics – Empowered 115 students to take at least one College Credit Plus course, earning 693 total credit hours for college!
- Faith – Campus Ministry celebrated Kairos 100, a powerful retreat tradition and experience, for seniors to explore and deepen their relationships with God, self, and others!
- Performing Arts – Produced the spring musical, Brigadoon, at The Sorg in downtown Middletown engaging 60+ students!
- Athletics – Boys Volleyball captured the 13th team State Championship at Fenwick!
- New Alumni – The Class of 2021 graduated on May 21, 2021. The Class of 2021 was offered an unprecedented amount – $21.2 MILLION – in scholarship dollars… our 128 graduates are headed to places across the country, such as the University of Notre Dame, University of Vermont, Air Force Academy, Siena College, and locally to the University of Dayton, Xavier University, University of Cincinnati, Miami University, and many more!
These measures of success are a testament to the work that the students and teachers were able to accomplish in a very challenging year of COVID-19.
Even with the changes in protocols and class schedules, we re-engaged our efforts with the BoE initiative, specifically on two of the major findings. First, the need to assess the potential within our existing facilities and 66-acre campus. Second, the need to precisely define, harness, and promote our identity to achieve institutional and enrollment goals. To move Fenwick forward on these two key findings, we enlisted the help of two esteemed consultants, Elevar Design Group and Keating Associates.
Elevar Design Group is in the process of utilizing all the information from the BoE process, results from additional focus groups, and survey feedback, to ensure input from stakeholders will be incorporated in the design ideas to maximize the use and functionality of the facilities and spaces on the Fenwick campus.
Keating Associates similarly is underway with using all the input from the BoE process, additional external and internal focus groups, alumni survey, and historical data and efforts, to assess and offer insight specific to the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of the “Fenwick Identity” for increasing the school’s sustainability long term.
As mentioned earlier, the Fenwick Family has much to celebrate this year that truly exemplifies the resilience of our community. We are in the process of gathering triumphant stories from this school year and will begin to share them in early August through our website and social media. These stories, along with special features (100th Kairos, Boys Volleyball State Championship/Play for Pete, and Mission Trip: Joppa Mountain in Rutledge, TN), as well as a list of donors from this fiscal year (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021), will also be highlighted in the 2020-2021 Bishop Fenwick High School Impact Report, which will be available in September.
These mission-driven moments are made possible due in part to your support. On behalf of Fenwick, I am so grateful for the many members of the Fenwick Family who have made a gift this year – THANK YOU!
With such initiatives being undertaken, the many successes through the 2020-2021 school year, and passionate support from our community members, Fenwick is excited to begin the work to help us to grow and improve our delivery of services in every aspect of our school operation. Enlisting the help of all our constituents will allow us to move Fenwick forward as an exceptional educational Catholic community rooted in faith, compassion, integrity, and service. I thank you for helping us attain our school motto, “To reach the heights, aim high!”
Yours in Service,
Blane M. Collison
Bishop Fenwick High School