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Celebrating 100 Years of Sacred Heart Education
Sister Clare Pratt '57, RSCJ

“Faithful to the Goals and Criteria as they continue to be updated in response to the needs of the world, Stone Ridge will continue to prepare girls to grow into women who will make a difference in the world.”—Sister Clare Pratt ’57, RSCJ

My life at Stone Ridge began in September 1951, when I entered the Sixth Class (Grade 7) thanks to my maternal grandmother whose piano now sits in the parlor next to the Chapel in the Hamilton House. An Episcopalian, Clare Wade Safford wanted her eldest granddaughter to go to “the best Catholic school in Washington.” Upon learning that, my Grandmother Pratt, who, though not a Sacred Heart alumna, had become a Child of Mary, said, “Why of course, Stone Ridge!” Grandmother Safford paid my first year’s tuition of $500 which my father, a lawyer in a small Washington firm, with a wife and four children to support could not afford.

“The Sacred Heart never asks that we become perfect all at once, but that we work at becoming so day by day as God gives us grace and light.”—Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat

One of my keenest memories from my Middle School years is beginning the day with Morning Prayer. As we knelt by our desks in the Study Hall, facing the back here there was a large statue of the Sacred Heart, we recited together the Morning Offering of the Apostleship of Prayer. Then, Mother Veronica Cotter called out in a loud voice: “Sacred Heart of Jesus” and we responded in chorus “Set the WHOLE WORLD on fire with Your LOVE.” She repeated it twice again and we made the same full-throated response. The seeds of my vocation to be a Religious of the Sacred Heart were planted in that Study Hall and to this day it is a sacred place for me.

Stone Ridge was only 28 years old when I arrived. The only building was the Hamilton House with its recent extension whose lower floors housed the Refectory (dining room) and basketball court. With the community of RSCJs teaching most of the classes, the lay faculty numbered fewer than ten and sat together for lunch at an old dining room table in the Refectory. In the Upper School, a single Science class was offered Senior Year, taught in the small building behind the Hamilton House, and the one teacher taught Biology one year and Chemistry the next. Although there was a tennis court, the only competitive sports were basketball and field hockey. Besides being the venue for basketball games, the gym gathered us for Prîmes each week and became a theater for plays and musicals performed on a plywood stage put together for the occasion.

Now, 72 years later, as we celebrate Stone Ridge’s Centennial in the midst of a transformed campus, a greatly enlarged faculty and student body enriched by increasing diversity, a mind-boggling curriculum, athletic offerings to meet every desire and ability, we can ask: What has kept Stone Ridge “on course,” faithful to the vision and conviction of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, that in order to bring the Love of the Heart of Jesus to the world girls needed to be educated? Some traditions have endured.

Stone Ridge still sings “Cœur de Jésus,” and enjoys goûter and Congés, but fidelity goes much deeper than well-loved traditions. I think we can confidently say that it is embracing and living the call expressed in today’s articulation of the original Plan of Studies, known since 1975 as the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart education. While the five Goals of Faith, Intellect, Social Awareness, Community, and Personal Growth have been CONSTANTS, every fifteen years, (1990, 2005, and 2020) with the reflection and input from all the Sacred Heart Schools in the United States and Canada, the Criteria have been updated to respond to the world which our students are being called to live in and to transform by their love. And every five years each Sacred Heart School holds itself accountable through a Self-Study and Visit by a Team composed of Sacred Heart Educators: a Head of School, a Trustee, a member of a leadership team, and a faculty member. Insights gained from the Visiting Team are incorporated into an Action Plan, pertinent to the world of today, faithful to the Sacred Heart Charism.

“Preach by the example of your lives rather than by words. Example is the very best sermon.”—Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

Just as no one could have foreseen in 1923 the Stone Ridge of today, we can’t predict what will evolve in the next 100 years. What we can be sure of, however, is that if Stone Ridge is faithful to the Goals and Criteria as they continue to be updated in response to the needs of the world, Stone Ridge will continue to prepare girls to grow into women who will make a difference in the world. What gives me joy and confidence is the realization that from little ones to Fourth Academics our Faculty are inculcating the Goals and the students are living them. In her Reflection at the end of the Mass on May 26, celebrating the Feast of St. Madeleine Sophie, Ella Hunter ’23 expressed this so well, speaking of “the Goals we all know so well by now as they are ingrained in our minds since the moment we step on campus.” The Washington Archdiocese’s Graduation Edition of the Catholic Standard included an article: “In essays, Stone Ridge seniors reflect on their school’s centennial.” What did Natalie Starmann and Gracie Cooper focus on? The impact of the five Goals of Sacred Heart education on their lives. As I read their words, I once again heard Mother Cotter calling out “Sacred Heart of Jesus” and from the depths of my heart I responded “Set the WHOLE WORLD on fire with Your LOVE!” ❤