Sacred Heart's student body on a growth spurt

Neighbors of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy must have known to ignore the screams coming from the school on Monday morning.

It was just the sound of a few hundred girls getting reacquainted for the first time since school was dismissed for the summer.

"When the girls come there will be a lot more activity and noise here with all the enthusiasm of girls seeing their friends for the first time in a few months," said Margaret Kean, the school's chief development officer.

Sacred Heart started the 2010-11 school year on Monday with a student body that is marginally larger than last year's, with approximately 400 students, including a freshman class of more than 100 girls.

School officials installed a pair of portable classrooms to compensate for the student body's sudden growth and maintain the small class sizes they promise, said assistant principal Katy Sadler.

The school continues its international ties, as teens from People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Mexico, Taiwan and Thailand will attend Sacred Heart this year.

"We have 23 new boarding students this year, bringing our boarding total up to 51," marketing director Leigh-Ann Danner said.

The school's administrators and faculty hope all their students walk away with skills that will serve them well after they graduate.

"We really want the girls to not only have a foundation that allows them to succeed in college, but also to have that curiosity and interest in learning that will sustain them as they go forward even past college," Kean said.

Kean said she has seen firsthand what someone can gain from an education at Sacred Heart, as one of her daughters was graduated from the school in June and another began her sophomore year Monday.

"I would say they have confidence," Kean said. "They have opinions and know how to think critically and when they go into a college classroom they are going to be able to hold their own."

In order to instill this self-confidence, the school year's student council theme is GIFT, which stands for give, integrity, faith and truth. The theme will guide the school and be emphasized from August to June.

"We are incorporating the whole idea of GIFT," Sadler said. "We will help students recognize their own gifts to help them realize how important they are to each other."

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