Archive for the ‘Campus’ Category

Villa Restoration Day


Just four weeks ago YOU made history as Working our Way to the Water (WOWW) became our most successful Fund A Need ever.

Four weeks from now our community will once again make history when WOWW officially launches with Restoration Day on May 3. This first phase of our project has Villa partnering with EarthCorps for a unique environmental service-learning project to remove invasive species, return native plants, and create a trail between the Garden Learning Center and the Grotto.

This day is all about empowering our students and uniting our community. As we each take part in the Restoration we develop a sense of community ownership and responsibility for our natural resources. Of course, we’ll have a lot of fun too!

Oh, and did we mention there will be goats? You don’t want to miss the goats!

Mark your calendars and stay tuned for all the details.

Villa Receives Green Flag Award

Villa Academy was awarded Eco Schools USA Green Flag – just the second school in Washington state to be so honored – in a ceremony yesterday, recognizing its commitment to environmental sustainability and increasing environmental literacy for its students, faculty and school community.

Ranger Rick presents Villa students with the Eco-School Green Flag.

To win the Green Flag, Villa Academy students and faculty – led by the school’s Green Team – conducted an environmental audit of the school, then created and implemented an Eco-Action plan that focused on reducing consumption and waste, conserving water and energy, caring for our school grounds and promoting outdoor education and experiential learning.

Many schools have implemented the Eco-Schools USA program, some earning Bronze and Silver level awards for their progress. The Green Flag level requires a rigorous combination of environmental audits, curriculum reinvention and internal and external monitoring.

Congratulations to our students and faculty and thank you to Roger Crafts, Norma Jenner and Jeannie Nichols for their leadership in “greening” our school!

The Eco-Schools program is an international network of 38,000 K-12 schools in 51 countries, started in 1994 by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) with support by the European Commission. It was named by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) as a model initiative for Education for Sustainable Development in 2003.  The National Wildlife Federation was named the stateside host in 2008, thus formally launching Eco-Schools USA.

Update from the Head of School


December 7, 2012


Dear Friends,

Today I met with the Villa Parent Association (VPA) and presented an overview of a comprehensive school improvement plan, associated with our Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools (PNAIS) re-accreditation process that will commence with the 2013-2014 academic year.  As an accredited school, Villa Academy undergoes a peer review process on a seven-year cycle, with our next evaluation scheduled for the 2014 – 2015 academic year.

PNAIS accreditation is an inclusive, continuing process that involves reflection, rigor and forethought to assist each member school to clarify and live its own vision, mission and values. The process promotes quality standards without standardization in a way that supports both school independence and educational quality in a collegial environment of peer review.

PNAIS schools voluntarily join the Association and, in so doing, commit to the core value of continuous school improvement with the goal of maintaining accreditation through compliance with the Association’s Standards and Indicators. PNAIS accreditation is an elective and thorough process that ensures that schools have the leadership, resources, organization, staffing and structures in place to allow for continual improvement that will sustain schools and ensure a quality educational program over time.

At Villa Academy, the most recent  on-going school improvement process generated from our 2007 accreditation report, but began in earnest during the 2010 – 2011 academic year under the leadership of Mrs. Jody Elsner, Villa’s Lower School Director who was, at that time, Villa’s Interim-Head of School.  During that year, Mrs. Elsner and the Villa faculty and staff began studying the components and implications of a “21st century education” at Wednesday afternoon faculty/staff meetings and through outside reading and research.

There are numerous definitions of “21st century education/21st century skills,” but a particularly useful and succinct definition comes from Mr. Barnett Berry, founder and chief executive officer of the Center for Teaching Quality:

Twenty-first-century learning means that students master content while producing, synthesizing and evaluating information from a wide variety of subjects and sources with an understanding of and respect for diverse cultures. Students demonstrate the three Rs but also the three Cs: creativity, communication and collaboration. They demonstrate digital literacy as well as civic responsibility. Powerful learning of this nature demands well-prepared teachers who draw on advances in cognitive science and are strategically organized in teams, in and out of cyberspace.”

The research, review and discussion of “21st century education/skills” at Villa Academy continues and includes both formal and informal conversations centered on the application of new instructional techniques and curricular standards, while ever mindful of our Mission as a Catholic independent school dedicated to excellence in the education of the whole child and guided by the Cabrinian tradition of educating compassionate hearts and confident minds.

This self-assessment and professional development process, along with our review of educational “best practices,” serves as one foundational leg of a school improvement process.

The second foundational leg of Villa’s school improvement process is the formal PNAIS self-study, which will be conducted during the 2013 – 2014 academic year. The self-study is an inclusive, collaborative and reflective process involving the Head of School, the Board, faculty, staff, parents, students, alumni and others who have an interest in the school and its future. It provides the background information and analysis upon which a peer review team will rely during their visit to Villa Academy in the 2014 – 2015 academic year.

The self-study process, followed by a peer review report, looks for congruence between a school’s mission and its programs and practices, and starts with a review of the school’s mission statement. The process considers the school’s strengths, weaknesses, priorities and plans and should identify any “gaps” as well as articulate aspirations (programs and facilities) for school improvement.  A peer review team will review the self-study and, following a three-day visit to the school, provide an additional written report to the Head of School offering team observations and highlighting areas of commendation, recommendations and conditions that the school must satisfy in order to maintain accreditation.

Considering the best practices/standards of a 21st century education, the findings of our self-study and the report from a peer-review accreditation visit, a new school improvement plan (Visioning Villa – 2017) will be developed and pursued in the years ahead.  In this improvement plan I hope to draw on all of the sundry skills and significant talents of the Villa community and will rely on its collective wisdom to make Villa Academy all that it can be – sooner rather than later!  This school improvement plan may suggest that the Villa Academy Board of Trustees consider a capital campaign in the next couple of years to support our improvement goals, to further Villa’s progress and to fully meet its Mission and Vision.  This is an option that has been occasionally discussed at meetings of the Board of Trustees over the last eighteen months, though no decision has yet been made.

This graphic was presented to the VPA to help illustrate this process:


The next few years at Villa Academy will be exciting – and pivotal.  I’m enthusiastic about our future and our potential and am convinced that the best is yet to come!

Stay tuned!



John K. Milroy

Head of School

Fall Book Fair Thank You

Parents, Staff, Faculty and Students,

The Fall Book Fair, which we conducted in coordination with the University Book Store, was a huge success! Your purchases earned approximately $2000 for the purchase of books for the Villa Library.   We hope you enjoy the books you purchased as much as our students will enjoy the new books we purchase for the library with the book fair proceeds.   We are also especially thankful for the many books that were purchased for the library from our wish list. Our children will enjoy a variety of new books for years to come, due to your generosity.

Many thanks are offered to our wonderful volunteers!  These parents helped the students with book selection, estimating the cost of purchases, counting money and making change. A special “thank you” goes to the following volunteers: Wendy Gibbons, Amy Fouke, Suzanne Moreau, Nina Stuyt, Ann Selberg, Staci Foster, Kelli Smith-Bailey, Jennifer Porter, and Michael Guadagno.

Special events like the Book Fair could not happen without Villa’s Facilities Department personnel.  We truly appreciate the “behind-the-scenes” efforts, including putting up banners, setting up tables, and helping to load and unload books.

The staff and management at University Book Store were extremely supportive and knowledgeable and the book selection was perfect for Villa’s clientele. It is always a pleasure partnering with an independent bookstore for this event.  When you are in the U District, stop by their store on the Avenue, and enjoy the incredible selection and customer service.

Again, many thanks to all the Villa families, friends, staff and faculty who contributed to the success of the Fall Book Fair!

Karen Strand

Marta Franzen

Villa Students Participate in Mock Election

A controlled but eager crowd at the Villa Theater Precinct

On Tuesday, November 6th, students in Grades 3-8 had an opportunity to “vote” for the next President of the United States and the Governor of Washington State.  In addition to voting for their favorite candidates, students voted on a referendum to extend the school year in Washington State to 200 school days.

The process began two weeks prior when students were encouraged to register to vote. During lunch recess, fifth grade students were on hand to help with the registration process.  A week later, all registered voters were added to a “voter signature” sheet and received a voter registration card, which identified their voting precinct.

On the day of the election, the precincts were set up in the theater and 5th grade students were stationed at the  sign-in tables. After signing in, students received their ballot, voted and placed their ballots in ballot boxes for safe-keeping. Later in the day, all of the 5th grade students gathered to tabulate the vote.

After all the votes had been counted, the Villa students had elected President Barack Obama (59.6% of the total vote). Rob McKenna was elected the next governor (53% of the vote). Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift were write-in candidates on some ballots.

The referendum to extend the school year to 200 days was overwhelmingly defeated with an 85% “NO” vote! No surprises there!! After the counting was completed, results were announced the  to the entire school.

Looking back at the process, we were able to generate some additional statistics.  There were 219 students eligible to register to vote. Of those, a total of 98 (44.7 %) registered. Of all students registered to vote, 90 (92%) students voted in the election. Overall, 41% of the total eligible population exercised their right to vote!

God Bless America!


Miracle Room Dedication Tuesday, November 13

On Tuesday, November 13th 2012, the Villa Academy community will dedicate the “Miracle Room” with a brief ceremony and the unveiling of a special bronze plaque to commemorate the site of the second of two miracles credited to St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the foundress of Villa Academy. The program will begin in the Academy’s Parlor at 9:30 AM and will be followed by refreshments, also in the Parlor.

Mother Frances Cabrini died on December 22, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois. Since her death, at least two miracles, investigated and confirmed by the authorities of the Catholic Church in the Vatican, have been attributed to her. These miracles were the foundation for Frances Cabrini’s canonization on July 7, 1946 as the first American citizen to be proclaimed a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.

The first miracle associated with Mother Cabrini occurred in 1921. On March 21st of that year, Peter Smith, a newborn infant at Columbus Hospital in New York had a solution of 50% nitrate (instead of the customary 1% solution of nitrate) applied to his eyes. Until the development and widespread adoption of antibiotics, diluted solutions of silver nitrate were dropped into the eyes of newborns at birth to prevent the contraction of certain diseases from the mother. With the application of the 50% solution to Peter’s eyes, blindness resulted.

The Sisters caring for the baby placed a relic of the late Mother Cabrini on the child and, after they prayed for a cure, Mother Cabrini interceded with the first miracle accredited to her. The next day, doctors were astounded when they found no damage whatsoever to the infant’s eyes. The baby, Peter Smith, later became a Catholic priest and  visited Villa Academy in the 1980s.

The second miracle credited to Mother Cabrini occurred at Villa Academy. The event was recorded in the May 1959 edition of St. Joseph Magazine as follows:

As Josephine Graziola, Sr. Delfina was received into the society [the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus] by Mother Cabrini in Italy in 1911. In 1914 she came to the United States and in 1916 went west to Seattle. There she was put in charge of the nurses’ quarters at old Columbus Hospital. The miracle, to which she testified at Mother Cabrini’s Cause for Canonization, happened like this:

“In 1925 I got very sick,” Sr. Delfina relates simply. “I couldn’t hold anything in my stomach. I had four major operations and finally the doctors said my only chance was another operation. I refused. I couldn’t even stand up; I was so weak. All I had, each day, was a small bit of the Host when they brought communion to me.

One day the bishop came to [Sacred Heart Villa to] confirm the orphanage girls and he came to see me too. After he gave me his blessing he told me to pray to [Mother Cabrini] our foundress. I didn’t see how there was any hope; I was a skeleton. But I prayed and so did all of my sisters. Finally one night, the 14th of December 1925, I couldn’t sleep and I looked up and Mother [Cabrini] was standing there. She shook her finger at me, just like she always did and said: ‘I’m going to send you to work.’ Then she smiled and disappeared.

I didn’t know what to think. For two days I didn’t tell anyone and just kept saying to myself, Mother told me… Mother told me… but I felt so much better that everyone could see the change. The next day I ate three meals and kept them all down. Then I told my confessor what had happened and said that I had to get up by December 22nd (the anniversary of Mother Cabrini’s death) and he told me to just get up and go to the [Villa] chapel by myself. I did.”

Sr. Delfina lived for 42 more years following her cure in 1925; she died on November 23, 1967 at the age of 76 and is buried at nearby Calvary Cemetery with many other Missionary Sisters from the Seattle community.

The room in which Sr. Delfina received her miracle is currently the Office of Admission and Community Relations, on the second floor, directly across from the Academy’s Parlor.

Villa Academy (formerly, Sacred Heart Villa Academy) remains a special place in the hearts of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus due to its rich history and the involvement of Mother Cabrini. They continue to remember Villa in their prayers – and the Villa Academy community is grateful for the dedication of the Sisters in the building of a literal and spiritual foundation for educating our young students.

All members of the Villa Academy community are invited to join Board Chair Mark Grey (Villa Academy Class of 1984), Fr. Stephen Okumu (pastor of St. Bridget Parish), Fr. Tim Saur (former pastor of St. Bridget Parish), Sr. Renee Kittelson, MSC (Resource Coordinator, Cabrini Senior Housing, Seattle) and me in this important celebration of Villa Academy’s spirit and heritage!

John Milroy

Head of School


Campus Clean Up: Thank you!

Thanks to all the Villa folks who turned out last weekend to spruce up our campus in advance of the Admission Open House on Sunday, November 18 at 1:00 p.m.

Special thanks to Villa parent and board member Scott Smith and the W.G. Clark Company for providing much needed resources.

Please tell friends and acquaintances about our Open House. We especially extend a welcome to current parents who may be looking at the next step in their child’s education at Villa.

They can dig it! From L to R: Head of School John Milroy, Villa Alum and current Lakeside student Karsten R., parent Christopher Roberts, parent Josh Herrala, parent and board member Tom Vail.

Brother, can you spare a broom? From L to R: Tom Vail, Facilities Director Ryan Erickson, Scott Smith, parent and board member.