Union Catholic's most recent Schedule Dedicated to Student Needs (SDSN) will go down as one of the most memorable and transformational days in the history of the school.
This past Wednesday’s SDSN, an initiative that focuses on building time into the day for student needs, had a tremendously positive impact on the students as the school offered a variety of activities in a relaxed setting as it expanded to a full-day event for the first time.
But that’s not all.
Union Catholic also provided a club period, college Naviance preparation, an honor roll presentation, a pep rally, a class meeting and more as the school displayed its superior technological abilities by combining Zoom and its livestream programming to bring everything together.
The activities, which created strong bonding experiences between students, faculty, staff, and the administration, included a digital breakout box, music session, yoga, a social justice discussion, trivia, bingo, coloring, Hidden Figures movie discussion, tour of the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican, candle making, discussion on The Great Migration, origami, Valentine’s Day cooking class, virtual pet park, meditation, tours of the Hawaiian and Alaskan National Parks, and a digital media workshop.
The SDSN Day took a lot of preparation and involved several faculty and staff members.
The SDSN planning committee, consisting of Assistant Principal Dr. Jim Reagan Jr., Jen Dixon, the Director of School Counseling, and faculty members John Becht, Katie Sagendorf and Kim Donnelly, worked tirelessly to set up the day, which included activities that were merged from the scheduled SDSN that was postponed a week earlier because of a snowstorm.
Dr. Reagan said this SDSN will go down as one of the most momentous days in UC history.
“The February 10 SDSN was a tremendous day, as Union Catholic was able to provide the platform to help meet our students emotional and social needs. I was most impressed with the depth of the discussions our students engaged in. I look forward to the feedback from all members of our community as we prepare future SDSN events,” said Dr. Reagan.
Becht, who moderated an activity and a club period, said he was honored to be part of the planning committee.
“It was amazing working with this team,’’ said Becht. “The amount of time and effort put in by everyone was incredible. Each of us brought our skills and insight together to make the day work.’’
Becht said the feedback he’s received has been extremely positive.
“The initial feedback from students I’ve spoken to were very positive,’’ said Becht. “The students seem genuinely appreciative of what we put together. Knowing how much hard work and dedication the SDSN team has put in as well as the rest of the faculty and administration it’s nice to hear that our primary goal of supporting our students was met. None of this happens without the support and dedication of our faculty, staff, and administration. It was a total team effort for our students.’’
UC senior Sean Machado was very impressed with how the school put together the day.
“Given the obvious circumstances, I think the activities were very well organized and were both helpful and a much needed day off from school,’’ said Machado. “I participated in my class meeting, peer ministry and a crayon club meeting, all of which I enjoyed very much. I was also able to watch the honor roll breakfast with my family.’’
Machado also said the student turnout really stood out.
“My biggest takeaways from the activities were the student turnouts,’’ said Machado. “I noticed that more students attended than I expected. Personally, I enjoyed the senior class meeting the most because it gave me and my fellow classmates an opportunity to not only connect with one another virtually, but also an opportunity for us to get together and discuss upcoming activities such as prom and graduation.’’
Machado felt making SDSN a full day was a great addition.
“I think that the way this SDSN day was scheduled and organized was a very good idea because it gave students the opportunity to participate in and watch a variety of activities,’’ said Machado. “It also was somewhat stress relieving, because I didn’t have to worry about zoom classes, and homework. I enjoyed the full day SDSN rather than the half day ones that have taken place in the past. It gave me a chance to relax and connect with my classmates and clubs.’’
Dixon said the day was a great success, and that it’s something the students need, especially during these difficult times.
“It went as planned and the students had an opportunity to connect with peers, the administration, counselors, and teachers that they don’t ordinarily have the opportunity to see and interact with during this unique year,’’ said Dixon. “Students need time to connect and focus on something outside of academics. Despite the social distancing restrictions it was important to carve out time for them to participate in all of the things they’ve loved about UC. Providing this time was a way for us to recognize their needs.’’
Freshman Josh Hunsinger said the SDSN program shows how much the school cares about the students, and is another example of what separates Union Catholic from most schools.
“Our school shows that while academics is very important, the needs of the students are also important,’’ said Hunsinger. “High school is a place where students don’t just grow academically, but also spiritually and mentally, and Union Catholic focuses on all those aspects. Integrating all those things together is helping the students here become better people. This day goes in line with all of the core values here at Union Catholic-- Community, Compassion, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility.’’
Sagendorf, who moderated an activity, said this SDSN had everything.
“I think this day was the total package for students,’’ said Sagendorf. “The Club Period & SDSN activities were a fun way to kick off the day, and the Honor Roll was something everyone could celebrate. It was incredible to see how many students achieved honor roll status during such unprecedented times. The pep rally was the perfect way to end the day – getting everyone excited about the winter season.’’
Sagendorf added that SDSN Day is vital to the development of UC’s students.
“I believe SDSN has far-reaching benefits for our students,’’ said Sagendorf. “In a time when there is so much stress and anxiety, SDSN Days offer an opportunity to connect and take a break from the normal school routine.’’
Donnelly said having so many events on one day worked out perfectly.
“It was a great idea to have the club period, honor roll, pep rally, and SDSN all packed together,’’ said Donnelly. “Not only did it make the day even more exciting for the student, it also provided dedicated time for these events separate and apart from academic time so students could get the most of them. SDSN is important to our whole UC family now more than ever. It's a day devoted to meeting the various needs of our students that brings us together and connects us during a time when we need each other most of all.’’
Donnelly was impressed with the involvement of the faculty and staff, and how engaged the students were in all the different activities.
“The true spirit of the UC community shined through each and every faculty, staff, student and family that helped make this day happen,’’ said Donnelly. “Coming together as one UC community definitely helped engage students and make the day a success.’’
Donnelly moderated a discussion about the movie Hidden Figures, something she felt was very important to talk about, especially during Black History Month.
“February is the perfect time to include activities such as the movie Hidden Figures and Social Justice discussion as we celebrate Black History month,’’ said Donnelly. “The Hidden Figures activity had 51 freshmen and sophomores come together to remember and celebrate Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who helped orchestrate one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit that turned the tide of the Space Race. By increasing awareness and celebrating these black heroes of the past, we give hope to our nation for true equality in the future.’’
Becht moderated a discussion on Social Justice.
“Based on previous feedback from our students, opportunities to celebrate and discuss diversity is very important to them,’’ said Becht. “Being able to provide a few opportunities during Black History Month brought about a deeper meaning to the activities.’’
Machado said that SDSN Day was a prime example of how unique and special Union Catholic is.
“I would say that UC is completely unique in the sense that they went above and beyond to cater to the needs of the students,’’ said Machado. “It showed that they care for our well-being and want to make our school experience as enjoyable as possible. It adds to the level of personal connection and community that UC brings. The effort shows that they do really care about each of the students.’’