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About Us > Letter from Olen Kalkus > Head Master's Journal

Head Master's Journal

Class of 2017 Farewell

In saying good-bye to you, the senior class, I find the following words of Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ most appropriate to this moment: “We must remember that it is better to begin a great work than to finish a small one. In every order, great beginnings are better than little endings.” 

Seniors, you are at the beginning of building something great. Like any great edifice, there are many individual parts that come together to create a wonderful whole. I have always appreciated the beauty of houses made of stone. There is a certain beauty to strong buildings made up of stones that are not uniform, but instead are very individual and distinct. Yet together, bound by a strong mortar, they combine to build something beautiful. For me they are a wonderful symbol of community. Like those buildings, the strongest communities are made up of individuals, and like those buildings they are bound together by a strong mortar. I believe the mortar which holds our community together are the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Schools. These Goals and Criteria create a mortar that will bind you to the Sacred Heart community for the rest of your lives. I trust that you will continue to live by those Goals as you move into the future and continue to develop and nurture the relationships they call you to have. For, it is in relationships that you will define, develop, and influence yourself, others, and the future. 

What are those relationships? To paraphrase the Sacred Heart Goals: 

Take care of and develop your relationship with God. In the rush of modern life, it can be easy to forget. Not on God’s part but on yours. He never forgets you, and will be there for you always. 

Take care of and develop your relationship with ideas. Be an idealist. Being only practical just maintains the status quo. Most advancement in the world comes from the spark of the ideal. 

Take care of and develop your relationship to those in need. The world has an abundance of unsolved problems and unmet needs. The improvement of the human condition and human security will be most difficult, if not impossible if social, economic, and environmental injustices are not addressed. 

Take care of and develop your relationship to those you are close to. Continue to build your relationships with your family, friends, teammates, classmates, and colleagues. Stay close to those around you, while you continue to build new relationships. 

Take care of and develop your relationship to yourself. I cannot resist yet one more opportunity to tell you to reflect regularly and intentionally on who you are, what you believe, and what you do. Without deliberate intent, reflection is often incomplete or dishonest. Without complete and honest reflection, it is impossible to grow in wisdom. Without exercising wisdom it is easy to become a person of bad habits, easily manipulated by others, rather than one of clear and purposeful direction. 

As columnist, Lloyd Shearer once wrote, “resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the wrong. Sometime in your life you will have been all of these.” 

In conclusion, I share again the words of Aloysia Hardy, RSCJ with which I began the school year, “Our loving-kindness with ourselves is the source of our loving-kindness to others. When we develop this consciousness within our self and toward our self, then we can offer genuine, Christ-like love, tolerance and compassion to others.” In other words, be kind to yourself and be kind to others, …always. 

May God Bless You with many wonderful relationships on your journey through life.  

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Thursday June 8
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Feast of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

Dear Carrollton Community,

As we prepare to celebrate the Feast of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat today we might find comfort in understanding the context of when and where she grew up. She lived in turbulent times. She was only 10 when the reign of terror began in France in the wake of the French Revolution. Much like the unspeakable and the unknown that confront us today, Madeleine Sophie witnessed despair and sorrow every day in the post-revolution streets of Paris.

Armed with a brilliant and well trained intellect, and an indefatigable spirit, St. Madeleine Sophie forged ahead to spread her vision of the deep love of the Sacred Heart burning within her.

It is a testament to the faith and hope that filled her that she fervently believed her destroyed society could be changed by women through their relationships, by the union of their hearts and minds in the service of God. It was her resilience that empowered her to overcome all odds and spread that mission to all corners of the world within her lifetime. 

As children of the Sacred Heart may we always know what St. Madeleine Sophie never questioned; "Courage and confidence! I cannot repeat this too often.“

Blessings,
Olen
Posted by isingletary on Thursday May 25 at 12:09PM
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An Easter Message

Be humble, be simple, and bring joy to others. - St. Madeleine Sophie Barat 

 

A few years ago, I read an inspiring book, Inside Out Coaching, by Joe Ehrmann. Some of you may recognize Joe's name from a Parade Magazine article a few years back, titled "The Most Important Coach in America," or from the book, A Season of Life. Joe is a former NFL defenseman, who became a minister after retiring from professional football. In his book he articulates his philosophy behind making coaching, and other relationships, transformational rather than transactional. 

Joe describes transformational relationships as "other centered." Transformational coaches use their power and platform to nurture the growth of their players. They impart life-changing messages. They give selflessly. On the other hand, transactional coaches use players to meet their personal needs for validation, status, and identity. They use their power to elicit responses. They see sports as a simple exchange – if they receive from the players the performance they want, they give back praise and status. 

As I read the book, I realized that Joe’s ideas could be applied to all of our relationships. Our relationships with one another can be either transformational or transactional. Initially, I thought that some of our relationships are, of necessity, merely transactional. I go to the store and engage with the clerk at the register when I pay for my goods. I give him/her my credit card, and I get my things. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that even the simplest of relationships could have transformational moments, if we choose to create them. A smile, a "please" or a "thank you" can turn the most mundane interaction into one that is meaningful and uplifting. 

All of this caused me to reflect upon the Sacred Heart Goal IV, to educate to the building of community as a Christian value. The word community comes from the Latin "con" and "munus." "Con" is roughly translated as with or together. "Munus" can be translated as gift. Community therefore is "to give among each other," or "gifting one another." In a community all relationships should have some transformational element, some giving or sharing aspect. And most relationships should be primarily transformational. Just as coaches should love and develop their players, teachers should love and engage their students. Parents should love and cherish their children, not because of what they accomplish, but because of who they are and who they are capable of becoming. 

As we approach Easter, a season of transformation, let us reflect upon how we can be more transformational in all our relationships as we form a community of confident, creative, and compassionate young women inspired to be the best for the world. 

Easter Blessings, 

Olen 

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Tuesday April 11
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A Lenten Message

Dear Carrollton Community,

As we prepare to enter into the season of Lent we are offered an opportunity to reflect upon our habits of living and grow in our relationship with God and others. St. Madeleine Sophie Barat believed that the relational nature of women could transform the world. The times she lived in were marked by tremendous social and political turmoil, yet she felt certain that women could influence society through the union of virtue with learning, the nurturing of faith and hope, love and charity.

Pope Francis has said “women bring harmony to creation.” In keeping with the vision of St. Madeleine Sophie, Carrollton is committed to what Pope Francis calls the “culture of dialogue”; promoting harmony in our global village; listening and endeavoring to understand and work on behalf of the betterment of all. I encourage you to read Pope Francis' message to all Catholic educators and to reflect upon our touchstone of the Goals and Criteria.

Guided by the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Education we are better able to navigate through the noise and incivility of current discourse as they remind us that:

  • We are all equally and infinitely loved by God. Each of us is called to reflect that love, and to see and be the face of God in our interactions with one another.
  • We have the ability to think critically, creatively, and deliberately. We are encouraged to ask questions, challenge assumptions, and arrive at conclusions in a thoughtful manner.
  • We are called to be informed and responsible citizens, as we act for justice.
  • We all live in community. Every person must be valued, cared for, and respected.
  • We are called to show respect, acceptance, and concern for ourselves and others, while growing in responsibility, grace, and wisdom.

The Goals and Criteria bind us together and impel us to live by and make known the love of God, the beauty of the intellect, the power of serving others, the joy of living in community, and the responsibility that comes with freedom. We are blessed to have them.

With love and prayers,

Olen

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Wednesday March 1 at 10:41AM
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Gratitude during the Holidays

Dear Carrollton Community, 

December is here, and with it often come the feelings of rushed schedules and crowded calendars. The clamor of the modern marketing of Christmas can make it a challenge for us to remember that gratitude, or thanksgiving, should be more than just one day on a yearly calendar. We should be thankful everyday for the gifts God gives us, and manifest our gratitude and kindness in the way we treat others, the love we share, and the patience we call upon when we are most hurried. 

The season of Advent brings to mind many memories of family traditions filled with appreciation, joy, and wonder. As a child, I remember the patience practiced and the delightful anticipation that was developed when my parents gave my siblings and me an Advent calendar. Ours had small doors for each day behind which was hidden a chocolate and a picture.  Not only was the chocolate something to look forward to, but as I grew older, I wondered and reflected more upon the image that would be behind the door.  

At Carrollton we take special time during this season of patient anticipation leading to the joy of Christmas. At the Advent Family Prayer services for each of the schools we take the opportunity to reflect about the meaning and hope of this most expectant season. I invite you to click here for a simple guide to enhance your patient advent experience. I have also included a link here to a web-based (no chocolate) Advent calendar to help guide your reflection. 

Most importantly, I ask that you keep Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart in your prayers, as I keep you and your family in my prayers during this Christmas season. 

Blessings,

Olen

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Friday December 2, 2016
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A Message on Holy Week

Dear Parents and Carrollton Community,

As we enter Holy Week, I would like to share with you the message that I shared with our students at the Ash Wednesday Mass in February. Goal I of the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Schools states that: “Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to a personal and active faith in God.” This goal challenges us to help all members of our community meet and make God a part of their lives.

Traditionally, Lent is a period when we set aside time to reflect upon Jesus, His life, death, and resurrection. Through prayer, penance, repentance, and self-denial we prepare ourselves to more fully embrace God in our lives.

To this end, one of the most important things that I can share is that “God meets us where we are.” What do I mean by this? Too often, I have found, and I certainly remember feeling this way at times, that people think that being spiritual requires perfection. That somehow in order to have God in our lives we must be perfect ourselves. This is akin to giving our house a thorough cleaning before important guests arrive, with the added belief that we must keep our “house” perfectly clean in order to keep our honored guest happy. But God does not want, nor need to be an honored guest; He wants to be a part of our family. Like family, He knows that the house will get dirty and unsettled again. Like family, He knows and understands the strengths and weaknesses of each of us, and what we are trying to improve upon. Like family, He wants to be invited in on our hopes and aspirations, to be asked to help us reach them. God does not expect us to be perfect before inviting Him into our lives.

To paraphrase Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ, our relationship with God, and one another, need not be perfectly finished, just seriously begun.

Blessings,

Olen

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Tuesday March 22, 2016 at 01:44PM
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Carrollton founded on a leap of faith

Before I begin my prepared remarks, I want to thank the dancers, choir, and musicians for sharing their wonderful gifts with us. Whenever I hear beautiful music, I am reminded of Kurt Vonnegut’s quote that “the only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.” 

As we celebrate the 54th anniversary of the founding of Carrollton, a quote from Goethe about taking leaps of faith comes to mind. He wrote: 

"Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. … Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” 

What Carrollton is today, what you as parents, students, faculty and staff are experiencing, what you as alumnae received as a gift, would not have been possible without the bold leap of faith taken by the founders of Carrollton, without the bold leap of faith taken by St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, and without the bold leap of faith taken by St. Madeleine Sophie herself, along with countless others.  

As we celebrate Carrollton’ successful growth we must always be mindful that all that has been accomplished and that we hope to accomplish is for the Glory of God. More eloquently stated in this poem by Santosh Kalwar: 

Life remains unchanged

till a leap of faith

runs towards heaven 

It is fitting that today’s liturgy was celebrated with the assistance of the arts faculty and students. Perhaps no other discipline encourages taking risk and leaps of faith more than the arts. In addition to what you have experienced here, I encourage you visit the art exhibit in the hallways of the Barry building on Barat Campus.  

Finally, our Carrollton artists remind us that our leaps of faith be taken with enthusiasm and joy. In the words of Mother Janet Erskine Stuart: 

"To be a joy-bearer and a joy-giver says everything; it means that one is faithfully living for God and that nothing else counts, and if one gives joy to others we are doing God's work."   

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Thursday February 4, 2016
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2016: The start of a promising year

 

Dear Carrollton Families, 

Welcome back to school and the start of an exciting 2016! This year holds great promise as we continue in our collaboration to educate and form your daughters to be the best for the world. Later this month we will be enjoying the fruits of our volunteers’ hard work as we revel in the Anniversary weekend activities. If you have not done so, buy your tickets now and get ready to Celebrate 2016! 

This March we will host presentations by Dr. Lisa Miller, PhD, Professor of Clinical Psychology and executive Director of the Spiritual Mind Body Institute at Columbia University. As the author of the New York Times best seller, The Spiritual Child; The New Science of Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving, she has been reviewed interviewed and discussed in media outlets such as the New York Times, Today Show, MSNBC, NPR, TEDx, Washington Post, Time, and New York Magazine. Also in March we will be coming together for the twelfth annual Golf and Tennis Tournament. 

The rest of the semester is filled with equally exciting events and activities promoting your daughter’s growth in grace and grit - from athletic and performing arts events, to liturgies and prayer services, to visits from authors and presentations from renowned lecturers and researchers. I look forward to seeing you at the many events that will take place this semester. Please stay tuned to your emails as more information will be forthcoming. 

Finally, I want to personally thank you for your extraordinary generosity toward and support of our faculty, staff, and administration. Your generosity gave us a very special Christmas. Your kindness, commitment to the school, and partnership with us, is making my first year as Carrollton’s Head Master a joyous one. 

On behalf of the students we serve, and the faculty, staff and administrators that make up the adult community, I thank you. 

Best wishes for this promising New Year. 

Sincerely, 

Olen Kalkus
Head Master 

P.S. Congratulations to the JH soccer team on winning the South Florida Middle School Conference Championship! Go Cyclones!

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Monday January 11, 2016 at 02:14PM
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A Christmas Message

Dear Carrollton Community, 

As Christmas nears, it is almost impossible to avoid the cacophony of the modern marketing of Christmas, and the feeling of rushed schedules and crowded calendars.  Consequently, it is especially important that we take some time to reflect upon and increase our awareness of the true meaning of Advent and Christmas. Advent is a time of patient waiting and pondering. It is a time of quiet hope, reflection, and anticipation, followed by the joy of Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Christ, God’s greatest gift to humankind. The gift giving that characterizes the season is an external gesture of gratitude to our family and community. Other expressions of gratitude are manifested in the way we treat others, the love we share, and the patience we call upon when we are most hurried. The environment we create for ourselves and our families is one where Christ is always welcomed. 

The Advent Prayer Services at Carrollton encourage the students and adults to slow down, to reflect, and to set priorities that place value in the meaning of Christmas.  This time we give ourselves is a great gift. I encourage any and all of you to attend one or more of these services. I would like to remind you of the words of St. Madeleine Sophie that are found on the December page of our school calendar. “Form the habit of mindfulness by putting a stop to over activity when you become conscious of it.” 

I hope the enclosed Christmas message, created and sung by Carrollton students, fill you with much hope and joy. As I keep you and your families in my prayers, I ask that you keep Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart in yours. Together, this family of Christ’s Heart in Miami will rejoice in our blessings. 

I look forward to seeing you at our Christmas gatherings listed in the Carrollton Christmas card and wish you and your families time filled with peace and joy. 

With love, prayers, and gratitude,

 

Olen Kalkus
Head Master

 
   
Posted by Olen Kalkus on Thursday December 3, 2015 at 07:12PM
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Feast of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, RSCJ

Dear Carrollton Family, 

In November, it is a tradition of Sacred Heart Schools to celebrate the Feast of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, RSCJ, the foundress in America of the first houses of the Society of the Sacred Heart. One of my favorite quotes of St. Philippine is: 

“Preach by example of your lives rather than by words.  Example is the very best sermon.” 

We can certainly learn much from her example. The daughter of an eminent lawyer, and ancestor of a President of France, Philippine persevered through hardship and disruption to bring to fruition her lifelong ambition to be a missionary and make known the Love of the Heart of Christ to the Native Americans. She was educated by the Visitation nuns and joined the order when she was 19, only to see it dispersed during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. In 1804, she entered the Society of the Sacred Heart, and worked and waited fourteen years before she was able to set sail for America. At the age of 49, she and a few other members of the Society set sail on a 70-day voyage across the Atlantic. She arrived in New Orleans, traveled the Louisiana Territory, and ended up in St. Louis, eventually establishing the first house and school of the Society of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, Missouri. The school and house faced many struggles. The weather was cold, and funding was scarce. Yet, she and four others prevailed and established six houses in America by 1828. It was not until years later that a school in Kansas was founded for the children of the Potawatomi tribe. Unable to learn the Potawatomi language, Philippine dedicated her time to taking care of the sick and to prayer. The Potawatomi named her Quahkahkanumad, which stood for "Woman Who Prays Always." She was canonized on July 3, 1988, by Pope John Paul II. Her Feast Day is November 18. 

Her example is especially important today, as she lived a life of faith, perseverance, courage, and compassion during times with as much, if not more, disruption and risk as we face today. In 1818 the First Seminole War was taking place in Florida, and with the exception of Louisiana, the lands west of the Mississippi were still only territories. In spite of the certain hardships and possible dangers, St. Rose Philippine Duchesne lived a life true to her words: 

Strength of character is certainly needed to face life in the world and to stand by right principles, especially in the age in which we live.” 

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne has given us a model of being “the best for the world,” and the “grit and grace” I have spoken of when describing the formation of our Carrollton students. We would all do well to not only remember her, but to emulate her as we live our lives. 

Yours in thanksgiving,

Olen 

The Network of Sacred Heart Schools in the United States and Canada has been in touch with our counterparts in France. They are deeply shaken by last Friday’s events but they are safe.  They are observing the national days of mourning at their schools.

The students at Bloomfield Hills wanted to do something to show solidarity, so they created an Instagram account that will be updated regularly: https://instagram.com/sacredheartstudentsforpeace/ Any student/teacher/admin/alumna from any of our sister schools who wants to email a submission is welcome to email our Director of Communications, Isabel Singletary at isingletary@carrollton.org

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Wednesday November 18, 2015
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