Sacred Heart Greenwich Sophomore Named 1 of Westchester County’s Best and Brightest Business Minds and Innovators for her Philanthropic Work

Here’s an article about Sacred Heart Sophomore Mary Grace Henry.  Mary Grace honed her philanthropic organization through her 8th grade “Making History” project.

Wunderkinds 2013: Mary Grace Henry, 16

Founder, Reverse the Course


In addition to playing two sports, completing her homework, thinking about college, and socializing with her friends, Mary Grace Henry, a 16-year-old high school sophomore who lives in Harrison, runs Reverse the Course (RTC), a successful international nonprofit organization that she founded in 2008. RTC sells reversible headbands to raise money to send girls living in impoverished countries to school.

From a young age, Henry was aware that girls in other countries did not have the same opportunities she did. Her school, the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, Connecticut, had a sister school in Uganda that they raised money for through jump-rope competitions and penny wars. But she was not happy with just supporting one school; she wanted to find a way to send more girls to school so they “could be in control of their own lives” and “give back to their communities.”

After attending a headband-making class in 2008, Henry knew she had found her revenue source. She asked her parents for a sewing machine and quickly made 50 headbands to sell in her school’s bookstore. They sold out quickly, and she started selling more in boutiques, at sidewalk sales, and at craft fairs across Westchester. By 2010, she had raised enough money to send two girls to school in Uganda. Now, she has raised enough (more than $35,000) to send 32 girls in Uganda, Kenya, Paraguay, and Haiti to school for at least two years. (RTC also works with the girls individually to determine which institution they should attend.)

“It’s kind of shocking to think that I’ve lived on Earth for about 16 years, and I’ve sponsored 75 years” in tuition, she says.

Organizations such as Pencil for Hope, the Philanthropic Educational Organization, and the Girl Scouts have recognized Henry’s success and have asked her to speak at their events. She also received the Richard A. Berman Leadership Award for Human Rights from the Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center. But Henry knows her work is far from over. Her short-term goal is to sponsor 100 girls, and, in the long term, she hopes to keep the organization up and running as she graduates high school and goes to college to study business or journalism.

“I think that for the rest of my life,” Henry says, “I will in some way be connected to this organization.”

► For more 2013 Wunderkinds, click here.


Student Election Sparks Gender Equality Debate

An interesting article about student elections at Andover.  We are proud that 45 seventh grade girls are currently running for student council office – a great sign that the girls see themselves as leaders, and that they are interested in serving and improving our school.

Evan McGlinn for The New York Times

Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., began admitting girls in 1973. More Photos »

Published: April 11, 2013

ANDOVER, Mass. — When the elite Phillips Academy here went coed in 1973, some worried that women would quickly take over this venerable institution, the alma mater of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Samuel Morse and Humphrey Bogart, not to mention both Presidents George Bush.

Evan McGlinn for The New York Times

Clark Perkins, 17, left, and Junius Onome Williams, 16, won the vote.More Photos »

In short order, the number of girls in the student ranks did roughly equal the number of boys. The faculty today is more than half female. And until her retirement last summer, the head of school was a woman, for nearly two decades.

And yet some of the young women — and men —   at the 235-year-old prep school feel that Andover, as it is commonly called, has yet to achieve true gender equality. They expressed this concern several weeks ago in a letter to the student newspaper, The Phillipian, and like a match to dry tinder, it set off a raging debate that engulfed the campus.

The proximate cause of concern was the election, held Wednesday, for the top student position, called school president. Since 1973, only four girls have been elected, most recently in 2003. (The other top student position, that of editor in chief of the newspaper, has had nine girls and 33 boys.)

The letter writers said this was an embarrassment, especially at a school considered so progressive. The paucity of girls in high-profile positions, they said, leaves younger students with few role models and discourages them from even trying for the top.

But the broader concern involved age-old questions of whether men and women could ever achieve equality, the nature of sexism and the nature of a meritocracy, which Andover very much purports to be.

“Right off the bat, it’s not a meritocracy for girls,” said Maia Hirschler, 19, a senior from New York City. “They’re starting behind because we don’t associate leadership qualities with them.”

John G. Palfrey Jr., the headmaster, said in an interview that Andover was only a reflection of other schools and society at large as it grappled with these issues. “We do not live in a post-gender, post-race, post-class society,” he said. “Girls have not had equal access to top leadership positions.”

In an attempt to improve the chances of electing a girl president this year, the school dropped the single presidency in favor of two co-presidents.

Many more girls did enter the race, all with boy partners. Other teams were made up of two boys. Over the last several weeks, the finalists were winnowed down to one girl/boy team and one all-boy team.

Both teams said the race became ugly in ways they had not expected. Clark Perkins, 17, from Fairfield, Conn., and Junius Onome Williams, 16, from Newark, said they felt attacked for simply being boys.

“We had to grapple with this on a political level but also a moral and personal level,” said Mr. Williams, who said he aspires to become secretary general of the United Nations. “We had to ask ourselves, ‘Am I doing an injustice to the female members of this school?’ ”

They decided they were not and said they would “not apologize for not filling a gender-balance quota.” Mr. Williams, who is black, noted that gender was only one demographic category. “Since 1973 there have been only four females, but African-Americans have been admitted since 1865, and we’ve had only three black presidents,” he said.

Mr. Williams and Mr. Perkins faced Farris Peale, 17, of Seattle, and Ben Yi, 18, of South Korea

Ms. Peale said that she had been Mr. Williams’ campaign manager — until he chose to run with Mr. Perkins. “He picked a boy and I got mad, so I decided to run myself,” she said. “Junius picked Clark because he thought he would appeal most to girls who think he’s cute, and to jocks.”

Mr. Perkins took offense at this suggestion, saying that he and Mr. Williams ran together based on their previous student council experience and leadership qualities.

After the votes were counted Wednesday night, the boys won (the tally was not made public). Mr. Perkins said they hoped to heal the rift in the student body.

“We are committed to ensuring that the voices and perspectives of all students — regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, nationality, or any other factor of identity — are heard,” he said. “For the past few months, bitter divisions have torn us apart. During our presidency, we will host a series of campuswide forums discussing gender equity in student leadership.”

Ms. Peale said she was disappointed but did not see the outcome as setting back the cause, only making it more urgent.

“This can be used as momentum to get a girl in office next year,” she said. “Fewer girls try to get ahead because of a mentality in our culture that says boys have better leadership skills. But you have to put yourself out there.”

On the afternoon of the vote, a warm spring day, many students were outside, some tossing a Frisbee, others sitting around on the manicured lawns.

One group of boys said they had tried not to factor gender into their votes. Daniel Feeny, 16, from California, said that he voted for Mr. Perkins because he was a natural leader and that he would not vote for a girl just because she was a girl.

“I find it shocking that this is still an issue,” he said, noting that his mother and three older sisters were all “strong feminists.” “I’ve grown up with feminist values,” he said. “It’s surprising to me to get here and see women say they are still treated unfairly.”

His group of friends agreed that the person elected president usually has stage presence and is entertaining, and they concluded that perhaps girls have to be more serious in order to be taken seriously, which makes them less electable.

Girls who were interviewed were far more galvanized about the matter. They said that previous generations of women had broken down important legal barriers, but today’s struggle was against a less overt sexism that was embedded in cultural attitudes.

“The access has been achieved, but the equality in terms of roles has not,” said Jing Qu, 18, a senior from Illinois. “Girls are scared to be overly ambitious because they’re scared of the potential backlash.”

When girls strive for equality, several of them said, the boys feel threatened and as if they are being put down.

“There have been moments of feminism here, but it hasn’t taken root,” said M. J. Engel, 17, a senior from Wisconsin who ran for president last year and lost. “Now we’re in this moment again when feminism has receded and we’re back to a boys’ school in terms of student leadership.”

This has firmed her resolve, and that of her friends, to give the younger girls all the encouragement they can before they graduate.

“To use Sheryl Sandberg’s words, we’re going to ‘lean in,’ ” Ms. Engel said. “For us, that means push in.”


This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 12, 2013


An earlier version of this article misstated the most recent year that a girl was elected school president of Phillips Academy. It was 2003, not 2004. The article also misstated the number of teams in a recent election for school president that were made up of two boys. There were more than one. And the article also incorrectly stated that only young women sent a letter about gender equality to the student newspaper. Young men signed it as well.


A version of this article appeared in print on April 12, 2013, on page A12 of the New York edition with the headline: School Vote Stirs Debate On Girls As Leaders.

Sacred Heart Greenwich Summer Enrichment Program

Our Summer Enrichment Program is offered to girls entering grades Preschool – Grade 12 in the fall. It provides students with engaging, hands-on learning experiences and offers a wide variety of options to choose from. Our goal is to stimulate curiosity and open young hearts and minds. Our learning sessions are all participatory and allow for creativity and collaborative work.

We offer programs in the following areas: music, dance, drama, athletics, arts & crafts, chess, vocabulary, creativity, yoga, fitness, Native American history, mosaics, clay, French language and culture, swimming, broadcast journalism, labyrinth design, computer programming, crochet, photography, journalism, field hockey, tennis, fun with DNA, canning and jam making, cooking, quilting, watercolors, robotics, soccer, basketball, astronomy, musical theater, lacrosse, volleyball, intro to the Middle School, creative writing, forensic DNA science, poverty – awareness and action, shadow a professional, non-fiction writing, service learning trip to Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, online PSAT prep, online English.

Sacred Heart Partners With Renowned Cold Spring Harbor Lab

From Greenwich Time:


Natalie Ponce, of Port Chester, N.Y., and Caitlan Fealing, 15, of Stamford, look at worms in an microscope during Dr. Bruce Nash, of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, meets with Upper School classes to discuss gene therapy at Convent of the Sacred Heart on Monday, October 15, 2012. Convent of the Sacred Heart is the third school, and the first Connecticut-based school, to become a charter member of the Cold Spring Harbor genetics lab. Photo: Helen Neafsey / Greenwich Time


There were more to the tiny worms that Convent of the Sacred Heart sophomores saw through microscopes than meets the eye.

On Monday, the students, part of the school’s science research program, were introduced to C. elegans, a worm used to study gene regulation and function. The students learned about how the worms formed the basis for cutting-edge research into aging and even cancer.

The lesson, given by visiting scientist Bruce Nash, kicked off a partnership between Sacred Heart and the world-renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory‘s DNA Learning Center. The laboratory, across the Sound on Long Island, N.Y., was once run by James Watson, who, with Francis Crick discovered the double helix structure of DNA.

Sacred Heart is the first Connecticut school to become a charter member of the DNA Learning Center, joining The Chapin School and Trinity School in New York City.

Each student in the science research program works for three years on an independent project. Through the partnership, students interested in exploring genetics will have the opportunity to visit the laboratory as they work on projects.

“So many of them want to go into the medical field, and several of them mentioned genetics,” said Mary Musolino, director of the Upper School’s science research program. “That’s why it’s such a perfect fit.”

The charter membership also includes opportunities for field trips to the lab, as well as summer enrichment programs. The charter membership, which costs $25,000, was made possible by gifts from the school’s Parents’ Association and by the family of Indra Nooyi.

Through the partnership, Middle and Upper School students will receive instruction from the laboratory’s scientists, as the sophomores did Monday. Nash discussed C. elegans, which he referred to as “sort of like the fruit fly of the worm world” and which have cells that behave similarly to human cells.

The students examined petri dishes of regular worms and worms with genetic mutations through microscopes. Nash explained that in research, genes of the worm have been changed, extending their lives of just a few days by 15 times.

Sophomore Lily Pillari said she became interested in genetics after reading articles to help her come up with an idea for her research project.

“It was very informative,” Pillari, 15, said of the inaugural lesson with Nash.

Pillari’s classmate, Mo Narasimhan, said she hopes to one day study the role of genetics in mental disorders, such as anorexia.

“I’d done a little bit of reading on Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, but today’s discussion was very interesting,” said Narasimhan, 16.

Nash, co-author of the textbook “Genome Science,” mainly works with high school and undergraduate students doing independent research projects, and teaches labs and lectures to students, as well as instructors.

“I think they’re great because we can give a more direct link between the students and what researchers do,” Nash said of the partnerships between schools and the lab. “It gives students a good chance at actually doing some science and doing science with tools researchers are currently using.”; 203-625-4439;

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The film “BULLY” chronicles the experience of 5 children who were victims of bullying at school.

See below for a synopsis from the movie’s production notes:

Over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of
violence experienced by young people in the nation. The new documentary film BULLY,
directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch, brings human scale to this startling statistic, offering an intimate, unflinching look at how bullying has touched five kids and their families.

BULLY is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with
huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of America’s bullying crisis. Filmed over the course of the 2009/2010 school year, BULLY opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders. It documents the responses of teachers and administrators to aggressive behaviors that defy “kids will be kids” clichés, and it captures a growing movement among parents and youths to change how bullying is handled in schools, in communities and in society as a whole.

More information on the film

The film is currently playing in Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk and Bronxville.  Show times

As Goal IV, the building of community as a Christian value, is paramount to our success as a school, we put much effort into preventing bullying by creating a safe and inclusive environment for all.  We also address the issue through our advisory program, through our health curriculum and through our Big Sister program. Here’s Sacred Heart’s Bullying Policy, as it appears on p. 20 of the Student Handbook:

We do not accept any form of negative behavior towards others.  In addition, we do not tolerate bullying in any form, as it is hurtful to individuals and damages our school community.  Examples of bullying include repeated acts of the following:

  • Physical aggression
  • Hurtful teasing
  • Spreading rumors
  • Preventing others from joining a group
  • Encouraging others to be unkind to someone
  • Sending unkind text, email or instant messages
  • Posting inappropriate pictures or statements about others in blogs or on Web sites
  • Assuming someone else’s online identity to make negative statements or spread rumors

While we expect that parents will handle issues of negative behavior and bullying that occur off-campus, the School reserves the right to address any off-campus behavior that negatively affects the ability of our students to have a safe and productive experience at Sacred Heart.

In cases of negative community membership, the disciplinary committee will recommend an appropriate response.

Please contact your daughter’s advisor, Lisa Weinman or Dave Olson if you have any concerns regarding her experience at Sacred Heart.