IHC has a long tradition of welcoming and hosting students from all over the world who choose to complete some or all of their high school education in the United States. We believe our international students add a critical dimension of cultural diversity to our school, as well as add to the learning environment and expand the world-view of all our students. During their studies at IHC, international students greatly improve their proficiency in English, learn about our culture, significantly increase their competitiveness for acceptance into college, and graduate with lifelong friends from around the world. Our international students are students for only a short while, but become brothers and sisters with their IHC classmates for life.
Where is IHC?
IHC is located in Watertown, NY, a small city of about 27,000 located about 70 miles north of Syracuse, NY; about 30 miles from the Canadian border; and a half-day’s drive to New York City.
What is Watertown, New York Like?
Residents of Watertown experience all four seasons – beautiful summers, brilliant and colorful autumns, snowy winters, and fragrant springs. Watertown is bisected by the beautiful Black River, which features Class 5 rapids. In addition to historic homes, Downtown Watertown boasts a full-size shopping mall and many other shops, a movie theater, several museums, and a town library. Watertown hosts several running races each year. The town has its own small ski slope, perfect for the beginner and intermediate skier. Within a morning’s drive are the Adirondack Mountains and the Whiteface Ski Slope at Lake Placid, site of the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Who Leads Immaculate Heart Central Schools?
Education Council. The IHC Education Council is a board of parents, clergy, and other volunteers who form policy, oversee, and direct the IHC school system. The Council consists of representatives elected for three year terms. The principle of oversight by a board of involved volunteers is central to the proper governance of our school system. It ensures strong management of our entire scholastic program, finances, long-term planning, infrastructure, and integrity of process in all areas.
Executive System Administrator. Mr. Chris Hornbarger is IHC’s Executive System Administrator. Mr. Hornbarger holds a Bachelor’s degree from Princeton, Masters in Public Administration from Harvard, and is finishing a Masters in Educational Leadership from the College of St. Rose. In addition to being a decorated Lieutenant Colonel (now retired), Mr. Hornbarger has experience working at the White House, and is a published author and speaker.
Principal. Mrs. Lisa Parsons is the Principal of the High School. Based on her extensive background, Mrs. Parsons also coordinates the the entire curriculum from Pre-K through 12th grade. Mrs. Parsons has extensive experience in education. She has been a district administrator, consultant, adjunct professor, and administrative internship supervisor. Lisa holds a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degrees, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in education from the State University of New York.
What Do International Students Learn at IHC?
IHC believes in educating students in the mind, body, and spirit. Students receive rigorous instruction in the core areas of math, science, English, foreign languages, social studies, and technology. Students also have a wide array of elective courses to choose from, including courses in the visual arts, music, and speech. Advanced Placement (AP) courses are available in a variety or core courses. Because of our small size, students often receive one-on-one instruction and individual attention from our teachers. Parents can review their student’s performance in any class at any time using our Internet-based PowerSchool application.
How Well Does IHC Prepare International Students for College?
Immaculate Heart Central students earn high marks in the SAT and New York State’s Regents exams.
IHC students graduate well-prepared for college, not only in the quality of their academic education, but also in the development of positive time-management and study habits that are reinforced throughout their time here. One of our international graduates is studying physics at Johns Hopkins University this year. Students in recent years have been accepted at top colleges and universities.
What Athletic Programs Does IHC Offer?
Our athletic program is exceptional, and one of the most highly regarded in New York State. With average graduating classes of about 50 students, we field two teams per gender per season. Those teams are very well coached, and have been very successful. Other recent achievements include:
- New York State champion: Baseball (2006)
- New York State champion: Cheerleading (2006)
- New York State champion: Girl’s basketball (2004 and 2002)
- New York State champion: Girl’s soccer (2002).
- We have also garnered sectional championships in Football (2006), Boy’s basketball (2006), Girl’s basketball (2005), Girl’s soccer (2003 and 2004).
- These accomplishments are in addition to the many Frontier League Tournament Championships and sportsmanship awards.
In addition to athletics, we also have active extracurricular programs in drama, music, and visual arts.
Our stage productions each year include a variety show, a Christmas program with living nativity, a major musical, and a band and chorus concert. These events also incorporate multimedia collaboration with our visual arts program. Our most recent dramatic event was a two-night theater production of “The Wind in the Willows” which was open to the entire Watertown community. Parents and staff members play a significant role in supporting our drama department by helping backstage and with props, costumes, lighting and music. Approximately 90 junior and senior high school students acted, sang, and played instruments as part of “The Wind in the Willows”. The musical took 3 months of preparation. We usually hold one or more such plays per year, as well as a number of concerts put on by our band and chorus.
We have a combined Junior and Senior High School band, and includes advanced players as well as beginners and intermediate musicians. The band plays during the Christmas program and the Spring Concert. We also have a Junior Chorus as well as a Senior Chorus. Both Choruses perform here at IHC, but also throughout the local area, such as the Jefferson County Historical Society, the local Salmon Run Mall, the Thompson Park Zoo, and several communities for the elderly.
Some band and chorus members participate in the selective Bi-County and New York State School Music Association competitions, performances, and other events.
Our visual arts department includes courses in beginner and advanced Studio Art, beginner and advanced courses in graphic design, and a Junior High art course. The visual arts department also oversees several extracurricular activities,
IHC also hosts an Art Show that is also open to the community, as well as a Fashion Show that both of which raise money for charitable projects. The shows offer many hands-on opportunities for multimedia projects, photography, lighting, modeling, photo editing, fashion and movie production.
Several High School dances occur throughout the year and are chaperoned by faculty and parents.
In addition, we also have a long-standing program called “Mystery Players.” “Mystery Players” involves our seniors carrying-out a somber re-enactment of the crucifiction and resurrection of Jesus. The experience is not a performance as much as “a living prayer” for the students and the audience, includes audiences outside IHC, to more fully experience the sacrifice made by Jesus on our behalf.
What Community Service Projects Do IHC Students Participate In?
Among our more prominent activities is our Faith Community Service program. In Faith Community Service, the mission of which is to “Carry Each Other,” students are actively encouraged to participate in various projects throughout the year, including:
- Watertown Urban Mission – helping poor and underprivileged families
- Habitat for Humanity – building new homes for underprivileged families
- Peer Tutoring – providing assistance to students in specific courses
- LEAF RELIEF for Seniors – helping rake and remove leaves during the Fall clean-up time
- BINGO at the Jefferson County Adult Home – providing the elderly entertainment
- Urban Mission Winter Coat Drive – providing poor families warm coats for winter
- Elderly Outreach – providing visits and companionship for elderly citizens
- Salvation Army SOUP KITCHEN – feeding the poor
- In-school service – taking care of our school’s facilities
- IHC Chapel Care – taking special care, with proper guidance, of our Chapel
- Outreach to Support our Troops – activities to support our military service-members deployed overseas
- Parish Dollar Dinners – helping local churches provide meals for poor families
- Operation Christmas Child – donating Christmas gifts to children of poor families
- Special Religious Education Program – helping run the school’s religious education program
- Our Respect Life Initiative is also a major activity. It traditionally involves a trip to Washington, DC. IHC keeps a volunteer service record for the purpose of school and work-related recommendations. Recently, the students voted to devote their Respect Life Initiative fund-raising efforts to help improve education for children in the countries of Guatemala and Honduras.
What Are Some of the Other Extracurricular Activities IHC Offers?
- National Honor Society
- Student Leadership
- Faith Community Service
- Fides et Ratio
- New York Math League Quick Team
- Mystery Players
- Yearbook Staff
- Respect Life Initiative
- Senior Slide Show Committee
What School Trips Are Available to Students?
- The school organizes a variety of trips, many of which are available to our international students.
- Our first trip occurs for our international students during their orientation just prior to the start of the school year.
- Our American Government class has recently taken trips to City Hall and to the State Capital, Albany, to meet with our New York State Senator, Ms. Patty Ritchie.
- Our Respect Life Initiative typically travels to Washington, DC.
- The baseball team typically travels each year to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to start their season and play multiple games in National Competition.
- Periodic field trips to places like Clarkson University digital communication department and the Everson Museum in Syracuse are also beneficial for our students.
- Our students are invited to participate in at least one Student Retreat per year.
- Several classes conduct field trips to historical or environmentally-important locations in the local area.
- Individual students also participate in trips based on their success in regional and national competitions, or their desire to participate in special educational programs.
What Does the School Do to Maintain Modern Facilities?
There are a variety of major capital improvements that we have made in recent years, are ongoing, or are planned.
The most prominent is completion of an upgrade to our athletic facilities, costing approximately $900,000 over three years. The upgrade included a new football, lacrosse, and soccer field, new bleachers, night lighting, a scoreboard, a modern concession stand, storage space for athletic equipment, and spacious locker-room facilities. Ongoing phases of the project include upgrades to improve handicapped access, a new parking lot, fencing and ticket gates, and other features.
We have been investing resources into enhancing technology in the High School, including the introduction of iPads in the classroom as well as Google Applications for Education, used by over 65% of America’s top universities. Our recently-added Multimedia Literacy course includes state-of-the-art graphics and video workstations. Our technology center includes about 30 networked computer workstations, with dual-projection and smart-board capability to conduct instruction in technology, computer programming, and the like.
Additionally, we have recently replaced our auditorium sound system with a state-of-the-art sound system that is used during our school presentations, dramatic performances, concerts, and other events.
We’re also proud of our “vintage” basketball gymnasium, which consists of a lovingly-maintained original hardwood floor which we strip, sand, and re-varnish every few years to keep it in mint condition. Maintaining an authentic hardwood basketball court is a source of pride.
We welcome international students and families to consider IHC as a high-quality educational alternative that will increase your child’s competitiveness for college acceptance, improve their language skills, familiar them with our culture, and form life-long friendships with their host families and classmates. Our own students have much to learn from you!