How to be an 8th grade parent (This document will be updated as time and information allows) th In 7 grade: 1. 2. 3. 4. Keep an eye out for open house dates for high schools in fall. Sign-up for practice tests at those schools where your student is interested. Make sure your student performs his or her best – 7th grade report cards are scrutinized. Parents - volunteer to chaperone the post-graduation 8th Grade Dance. Seventh grade parents are asked to chaperone the dance – eighth grade parents are responsible for planning, setup, and cleanup. 5. Gifted Program (The Johns Hopkins University) – those students who have consistently performed in the top tier of their class (grades & Terra Nova results) are invited to join the Gift Program offered by The Johns Hopkins University. This program invites 7th graders to take the SAT exams during the school year and offers a number of opportunities for them to attend enrichment courses throughout the remaining elementary and high school years. These offerings cost money to enroll and attend. In 8th grade: The High School Selection Process: 1. Attend open houses beginning in fall. 2. Sign up for and take entrance exams, scholarship exams, etc. 3. Schedule a shadow day at one or more schools where your student is interested. Most schools allow students to signup for shadow days online. 4. Keep your eye out for: a. Deadlines for applications to private schools. b. Deadlines for financial aid forms c. Open House dates / tours d. Shadow days visits – it is usually a good idea to do this on days your student has off from Visitation. 5. Local schools attended by recent Visitation BVM graduates are: a. Archdiocesan: Pope John Paul II (Royersford), Archbishop Carroll (Radnor), Lansdale Catholic (Lansdale), Archbishop Wood (Warminster), Roman Catholic (Phila, boys only) b. Private Schools – Boys Only – LaSalle College High School (Wyndmoor), St. Joseph’s Preparatory School (Philly), Devon Preparatory school (Devon), Malvern Preparatory School (Malvern), Valley Forge Military Academy (Wayne), The Haverford School (Haverford) c. Private Schools – Girls Only – Mt. Saint Joseph’s Academy (Flourtown), Academy of Notre Dame de Namur (Villanova), Villa Maria Academy (Malvern), Merion Mercy Academy (Merion), Gwynedd Mercy Academy (Gwynedd Valley) d. Private Schools – Co-ed – Germantown Academy (Fort Washington), The Hill School (Pottstown), The Lawrenceville School (Lawrenceville, NJ) e. Public Schools – Methacton HS (Lower Providence), Norristown HS (West Norriton), Springford HS (Royersford), Perkiomenville Valley HS (Collegeville), Wissahickon HS (Ambler) 6. All private and Archdiocesan High Schools have an admissions process which is generally outlined on their websites under the Admissions label. Contact the school’s admissions director with any questions. Archdiocesan schools generally have rolling admissions (there is no firm due date for application, 7. 8. 9. 10. however those taking scholarship tests must apply before the test is scheduled). Private schools have specific deadlines for submitting an application for admission. Many private high schools require recommendations and other paperwork completed by teachers. Your child’s 8th grade homeroom teacher manages the paperwork for all his/her students. With as much lead time as possible, send all paperwork for all schools together to the homeroom teacher in a folder with your child’s name. Please include stamped, addressed envelopes for all schools with the paperwork. Be sure to submit applications, fees, and paperwork to the high schools with enough time in advance of the deadline. Some schools require all paperwork well in advance of the entrance/scholarship exams. Financial Aid: Financial aid is available for families who qualify. Applying for financial aid at the private high schools is a separate process with its own set of deadlines. Make sure to ask the admissions office of the high school(s) what is required to apply for financial aid and when it is due. Private schools typically require financial aid applications to be submitted no later than November 30. In addition, there are scholarships, tax credit or awards available to help with tuition costs for qualifying families. a. The Connelly Foundation is a philanthropic organization that provides support for Catholic schools in the Philadelphia area. Among the programs they administer is awarding Neumann Scholarships to 8th grade students who score highly on their scholarship tests. b. Jackie Rodgers Award (Speech program participants) – Every year, the Speech Program names an 8th Grader as recipient of the Jackie Rodgers Award. Ms. Rodgers was an 8th grade student at Visitation BVM who died suddenly during the school year. The award is presented to an 8 th grader who participated in the Speech Program for 3 years and exhibits the qualities that Ms. Rodgers did (honesty, integrity, compassion, and caring). The award recipient receives a check towards his or her tuition for high school. His or her name is inscribed on a plaque in the Junior High and the awardee is presented with a plaque to keep. c. Miscellaneous awards & scholarships – students are chosen to receive a number of awards recognizing alumni, families, special interest groups, and organizations. These awards are determined by the faculty and/or administration. d. Needs-based financial aid may be available to your student through BLOCs grans or EITC (School Vouchers). Contact the financial aid office for your student’s high school for information on applying for such aid. Scholarships – if your child receives a scholarship from any high school or group, copy the award letter and bring it to the school office. Your student will be recognized for receiving the scholarship both in the Parish Bulletin and during the graduation ceremony. Notify the office of all scholarships and awards your child receives, even if he or she will not be attending the school offering them. 8th Grade Retreat The CYO plans and hosts an annual retreat for 8th graders to bring them together to work on spiritual and team building exercises and to prepare them to meet the challenges they will face in high school. This event is either on site at Visitation BVM school/church or offsite (depending upon how it is organized). Through this experience, the children will have a opportunity to examine themselves and their faith formation by looking at their experiences at Visitation and looking toward their future. May Procession – Queen & Court The Parish May procession is held on or near the church’s patronal feast day (May 31 – the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary). A May Queen and her court are chosen by the 8th graders. The May Queen and court members are given instructions on proper dress, deportment, and conduct. The procession is conducted with the full participation of the parish and we rely on the Queen and her court to represent Visitation appropriately. First Communicants, Altar Servers, Confirmandi, and Graduates participate in the procession. Graduation 1. Graduating Class Picture – The Class Picture is scheduled to take place in early May of the graduation year. Students will come to school in their uniforms and will wear their graduation robes over them. A professional photographer will take the class picture. All graduates will receive a copy. 2. Parents of 8th graders form a committee in the spring to plan the 8th Grade Dance – the dance is the party in the school gymnasium following graduation. The Committee decides on the party’s theme and details, the class’ gift to the school and teachers, decorations, and gifts for the students. As part of the decorations, parents are asked to construct a memory board (typically a post boardsized collage of pictures of the student growing up). Parents decorate the gymnasium beginning on the final Monday of school (when 8th graders do not come to school). 8th grade parents are also responsible for cleaning up after the party is over. Seventh-grade parents are asked to chaperone the party itself. 3. Fees for Graduation, etc. – Graduates’ families are asked to pay a graduation fee that covers the costs of the school-related graduation expenses – cap and gown, diplomas, video, etc. Separately, the 8th Grade Dance committee figures out a budget to cover the cost of decorating the gymnasium, providing food and entertainment for the dance, and to purchase a class gift for the school. This money does NOT include a gift for the 8th grade teacher. Please remember them at the end of the year – they have done many extra tasks and spent a lot of their personal time for your children to complete the high school application and entrance processes. 4. Eighth Grade Graduation is generally held on the last Wednesday of the school year. The Graduation Ceremony itself follows a Mass of Celebration for the graduation class. Both events are held in the Upper Church. Dress code for the graduates is “Sunday Best.” Boys wear a dress shirt with tie, khaki pants and dress shoes. Girls’ dresses should reflect their young age and be appropriate for Catholic School girls. They should include shoulder straps and be of a length and fit that preserves her modesty. Parents enter with their graduates in procession into the church. During the Graduation Ceremony, 8th graders receive their diplomas and are recognized for any scholarships and awards received. Parents and those attending the graduation are invited to briefly visit the school gymnasium following the ceremony to see the decorations and memory boards for the class and then asked to leave the party for the graduates to enjoy. Glossary 8th Grade Dance – the post-graduation dance held in the school gymnasium and chaperoned by 7th grade parents. A committee of 8th grade parents plans the dance as well as the end-of-the-year gifts for teachers and the class gift to the school. 8th Grade Retreat – an event hosted by the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) that pulls all 8th grade participants together to work on group building activities, spirituality, and other issues. Funeral Teams – 8th Grade altar servers are assigned in teams of 4 to serve funerals during the school year. Mrs. Poot assigns the team members. Teams are assigned to serve funerals on a rotating basis. Some funerals are during the school day and some on weekends. It is the responsibility of the server to find a substitute if (s)he cannot serve a weekend funeral. Altar Server captains are responsible to find servers for funeral during the summer months. High School Night – a night hosted by an area school when multiple high schools are represented in the same space so junior high students may ask questions and learn about the different school offerings. Jackie Rodgers Award – The Jackie Rodgers award recipient is a 3-year participant in Visitation BVM CYO’s Speech program who is chosen by the program’s moderator. It is a cash award that is payable toward his or her high school tuition. Modest Dress – If your grandmother wouldn’t agree to let your daughter leave the house dressed in that outfit, it is not modest. Neumann Scholarships – Scholarships offered by the Connelly Foundation to pay for students who choose to attend Archdiocesan High Schools. Students are invited to sit for the examination based upon the performance in school in prior years and their Terra Nova exams. Those students who choose to attend private or public schools give up the scholarship and the money is returned to the foundation. Students must have attended Catholic school in 7th and 8th grade to qualify to sit for the exam. Open House – a day or days and times set aside by high schools to show case their offerings to the community. Practice Test – an opportunity for 7th graders to take the entrance exams for private high schools. Their results may help them target areas to work on for improving their scores for the test that counts. Shadow Day – a day when an 8th grade student attends an area high school as a guest and ‘shadows’ a freshman or upper classroom. Varsity CYO Banquet – a night time dinner & awards banquet hosted by the Visitation BVM CYO to recognize and honor its Varsity athletes and program participants. It is generally scheduled for the last week of school at a restaurant or facilities off site. Universal Visitation Day – This is a day set by the Archdiocese for 8th graders to visit any Archdiocesan High School instead of going to their elementary school. The student is considered absent from his/her elementary school if he/she does not go to an Archdiocesan school and attends a private school instead. Parents must provide transportation to and from the Archdiocesan high school.
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