Fatima evolves curriculum, expects success for future

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WARREN— Our Lady of Fatima High School has a vision for the future of Catholic education in Rhode Island and they are successfully moving forward with a strategic plan to build programs that continually foster the students’ future and celebrate their commitment to Catholic education.

"Our planning effort is not about changing the direction of the high school, but rather recognizing that they are constantly evolving,” said Joseph Hozempa, director of advancement for Fatima High School. “We have established a strategic direction that creates the bridge between where they are now and a vision of the future.”

The planning process for Fatima began in 2008, which included focus groups comprised of faculty, staff, parents, alumni, stakeholders, community leaders and students to help define a vision for the future of Fatima.

St. Dorothy Sister Mary Margaret Souza, principal of Fatima High School. said that the major commitment of Fatima is to give the students what they need for the future.

“We need to make sure we are prepared for the 21st century,” said Sister Souza. “How we adjust to that will impact how they learn, how they achieve, and how well they feel to go on to higher education.”

Fatima was recently awarded a $41,000 grant from the Champlin Foundation to expand their science department with a new Forensics Lab. The construction of a Forensics Lab is a great step in offering students new and improved methods of meeting challenges presented in today’s world, Hozempa said. The Forensics Lab is scheduled to be completed by early March.

“We chose forensics from a curriculum perspective,” Hozempa explained. “Forensics allows students to go through the scientific process. It teaches them about problem solving. It will also allow students to identify the possibilities of forensic studies as a possible career choice in the future.”

Graduates of the class of 2009 were all accepted into the colleges of their choice, said Hozempa. With enrollment currently at 92 students, Fatima has already made successful efforts to accommodate their students by providing the drama department with orchestra for the first time last year, introducing a sign language program, and by offering all Mac computer facilities.

“When a child graduates and they seek scholarship money, they are in a pool of 30 rather than a pool of 300,” Hozempa said. “It’s a lot more to capture the attention of potential colleges. Fatima has always been small and has always used that to its advantage. Now we are trying to get rid of that smaller image and trying to hopefully double the student enrollment.”

To continue to move onward with the strategic plan, Hozempa said, is the goal for the upcoming years. He explained that Fatima hopes to develop more in technologies by using Smartboards, an interactive touch-sensitive display that connects the computer and digital projector, as well as a focus on building robotics.

“It’s no longer about chalkboards, now it is about where science is going,” said Hozempa. “It’s using the technology and the latest technology to take education to a new level. This would allow the students to have an interactive experience. You want to be able to teach them to focus on problem solving skills. It’s taking what it is currently doing and trying to maximize its potential.”

Looking forward to upcoming open houses at the high school, Hozempa said Fatima will have a new showcase for prospective students and their parents this year.

“We have changed the structure of the open house to cater to both the students and the parents,” he said. “The structure of the classroom is changing. I think if you walk into other Catholic schools, if they are not up on technology, the parents notice that right away. We are trying to become attractable for the parents and the students. I cannot emphasize enough what a gem Fatima is.”

Sister Souza explained that to be able to engage students with a hands-on learning experience is vital to the future of Catholic education.

“I have a great hope for Catholic education of the future,” said Sister Souza. “We are moving forward and it is the right direction. Meeting the needs academically and spiritually gives them the values they will have for the rest of their lives.”