Sacred Heart Academy (Hamden, Connecticut)

Sacred Heart Academy is a young women's college preparatory, Roman Catholic high school located in Hamden, Connecticut, and is part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford. It is run by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an order of religious sisters founded in Italy by Mother Clelia Merloni. The school is located atop Mt. Sacred Heart which is the U.S. Provincialate of the sisters. Their team mascot is the Sharks. Their brother school is Notre Dame High School West Haven, Connecticut, and their sister school is Cor Jesu Academy in St. Louis, Missouri.

Sacred Heart Academy
265 Benham Street

, ,

United States
Coordinates41°22′1″N 72°55′53″W
TypePrivate, All-Girls
(Ever higher)
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic
PresidentSr. Sheila O'Neill ASCJ
PrincipalSr. Kathleen Mary Coonan ASCJ
Average class size18-23
Student to teacher ratio10:1
Campus size127 acres (0.51 km2)
Color(s)Red and White         
Athletics conferenceSouthern Connecticut Conference
Team nameSharks
AccreditationNew England Association of Schools and Colleges[1]
PublicationPRISM (literary magazine)
Dean of AcademicsSibani Sengupta
Dean of Student ActivitiesSr. Judith Musco ascj
Dean of StudiesAnnette Vasaturo
Director of AdmissionsElaine Lamboley
Athletic DirectorGeorge Bedocs


Sacred Heart Academy was founded on September 9, 1946, by Sr. M. Antonine Signorelli of the Missionary Zelatrices of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who later became the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Initially located in New Haven, Connecticut, the school was established to provide a Catholic college preparatory education to local young women. The first class contained 17 students, but enrollment numbers rapidly grew. To accommodate increasing popularity, the school was expanded in 1948 with the building of Clelian Hall and in 1957, the school relocated to its current location on Benham Street in Hamden, Connecticut. The school has continued to expand throughout the years, adding classrooms, computer labs, and recreational facilities as needed.[2] Currently, the school sits on the same 127-acre (0.51 km2) campus on Benham Street in Hamden and has a student body of about 500 girls, representing 55 different schools from 36 towns across Connecticut.[3]

Activities at Sacred Heart

Clubs and Organizations

Students at Sacred Heart are often involved in a variety of after-school activities. There are over 15 clubs, including Key Club, which is a group of student ambassadors who work with the admissions office, and UNITY, which promotes diversity among students.[4] There are also many other organizations on campus, including Student Council, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), National Honor Society (NHS), and three language honor societies.[5] Sacred Heart has three student publications: Alethea, the campus newspaper; Clelian, the student yearbook; and Prism, a literary magazine featuring student poems, short stories, and artwork.[6]


Sacred Heart Academy competes as a member of the Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC). Each season, students can choose from a variety of sports teams, including field hockey, volleyball, soccer, swimming, cross country running, and cheerleading in the fall, basketball and indoor track in the winter, and lacrosse, softball, tennis, and track and field in the spring. All students, regardless of athletic involvement, have access to a gymnasium, fitness center, Olympic-size outdoor track, softball field, and two playing fields.[7]

Fine Arts

Students interested in drama, music, or art may be involved in a variety of activities to showcase their talents. Each fall, students audition for a musical production which takes place in November. Recent shows have included Annie (2013), White Christmas (2012), The Wiz (2011), Hairspray (2010), Fiddler on the Roof (2009), Les Misérables (2008), Beauty and the Beast (2007), Annie (2006), Sound of Music (2005), Anything Goes (2004), Guys and Dolls (2003), and West Side Story (2002). Shows performed in 2013 and 2012 took place at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut. Students may also join the Drama Club, which puts on a performance each spring.

A variety of music groups meet after school each week. The student orchestra includes a wide variety of string, brass, and woodwind instruments. Members of the orchestra receive course credit. There are also two choirs on campus. The concert choir is open to all students, while the smaller chamber choir requires auditions. Students involved in both the choirs and the orchestra put on several concerts each year. This smaller group traveled to Paris in April 2012, where they performed at Notre Dame Cathedral and Chartres Cathedral.

An Art Club meets occasionally after school, and a student art show takes place at least once every year, showcasing the artwork of students in various elective classes.

Science at Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart Academy has received a great deal of media attention for the scientific accomplishments of its students. Each year since 1998, students enrolled in biotechnology classes have worked on advanced research projects and have presented their findings at a national conference. Early projects caught the attention of Applied Biosystems, which led to their donation of an automated DNA sequencer (an ABI Prism 310 Genetic Analyzer) to the school, making Sacred Heart the first high school in the country to have such technology.[8][9] In 2005, using funding from a three-year grant from the Vernal W. and Florence H. Bates Foundation, a group of students identified genes implicated in osteoporosis and sequenced the calcitonin and collagen 1 alpha1 receptor genes in Bos taurus. Their findings were presented at a conference in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and their sequences were published in GenBank.[8] Following their successes, another group of students continued their project, submitting additional sequences for the calcitonin and vitamin D receptors in Bos taurus and presenting their findings at the Annual Conference sponsored by American Society of Human Genetics in New Orleans, Louisiana.[10] Additional groups of students have presented in Washington, D.C. These accomplishments helped make Sacred Heart the recipient of a grant from the John G. Martin Foundation of Farmington for a molecular science research laboratory.[9]

Traditions at Sacred Heart

  • One of the most beautiful traditions at Sacred Heart is the Junior Ring Ceremony. Some students choose to buy their own class ring, while other students use the rings of mothers, sisters, or cousins who have also graduated from Sacred Heart. The ceremony is one of the most important class unity events leading up to graduation. This ceremony is followed by the Junior Class Picnic.
  • A favorite tradition of many past and present Sacred Heart students is Spirit Week. Usually held in March, this is when freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors compete against each other to display their school spirit. The week includes activities such as performing a lip sync, creating a skit based on a reality television show, decorating the class’s section of the cafeteria, creating and performing a class cheer, competing in a Miss SHAmerica pageant, dressing in clothing from various decades, dressing in school colors, and playing in a student vs. staff basketball game. Recently, the Student Council (STUCO) changed things up a bit. A SHA Quidditch game was held in lieu of the traditional basketball game. Spirit points are awarded throughout the week and the winning class is announced at the end of the week. Spirit points can also be earned throughout the year in activities such as Penny Wars, the Ad Campaign, and Cleanest Cafe competitions.
  • Every other year, the FantaSHA auction occurs in the school gymnasium. Each auction has a different theme, and the gymnasium is transformed into an elegant dining room to match the theme. Items donated by students, friends, relatives, and alumni are auctioned off to benefit the school.
  • Recently, the Sacred Heart development office has established the Fashion Show. There is a silent auction and a dinner followed by a student-model fashion show during dessert.
  • Another Sacred Heart tradition is the annual Ad Campaign. Before the fall musical each year, students scramble to raise money by soliciting local companies for ads to be placed in the musical's program. Usually, there is some incentive to encourage students to reach the school goal, such as a day off or a shortened day.
  • Every first Friday of the month the entire student body, faculty and staff participate in a First Friday Mass. Each month a different priest from a local parish performs the Mass. Liturgies are planned by various groups or classes, and the music is provided by staff and students. Some favorite songs include “Companions on a Journey," “We are One Body,” and “Shout to the Lord.”
  • Each year at Christmastime, the arts departments at Sacred Heart host a Festival of Lessons and Carols. This traditional liturgy combines music performed by the orchestra and choir with as biblical readings. Recently, an art show of recent student artwork has taken place just before and after the ceremony.
  • One important event of Senior Week (the last week before the seniors graduate) is Honors Convocation. While the event is mostly for seniors, various members of other classes are also invited to receive awards and recognition for outstanding achievements of the year. The fourth and fifth ranked students in the graduating class offer addresses, and awards are distributed to seniors for both academic and non-academic achievements throughout their Sacred Heart education.
  • Before graduation each year, the senior class is invited to a beautiful baccalaureate Mass in the chapel. This liturgy is planned by the senior class and is the last liturgy they celebrate together as a class before becoming Sacred Heart graduates.
  • Graduation typically takes place on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend in May. Family, friends, and graduates all crowd into the gymnasium for the celebration. The top three students in the class give addresses, and a speaker is also invited to offer words of wisdom to the graduating class. Most graduates go on to enroll in 4-year colleges.


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