Cannonball Moments: A Catholic Schools Week Reflection

Fr. Robert L. Marciano, KHS ’75, President, and Mr. Mark R. DeCiccio ’03, Principal, share a Catholic Schools Week reflection:

While fighting in the Battle of Pamplona, St. Ignatius of Loyola, then a Spanish knight, was struck with a cannonball, forcing him to be removed from the battlefield. While recovering in a nearby monastery, the only books available to him were about the life of Christ and the lives of saints. As he read and reflected, he found deeper purpose. He laid down his weapons and picked up his pen, developing the Spiritual Exercises and founding the Society of Jesus. He went from soldier to eventual saint.

That cannonball strike — destructive and dangerous — turned into a moment of creation and clarity for St. Ignatius. When life handed him something seemingly insurmountable, he turned to God in reflection and discernment, and found something great.

In reflecting on the past three years at Bishop Hendricken this Catholic Schools Week, we have faced our fair share of cannonball moments. The COVID-19 pandemic itself has felt like one cannonball moment after the next. Over the past few years, we’ve been challenged emotionally, mentally, and socially. Some of us have been challenged physically, too.

But in all of this, like St. Ignatius, we’ve found opportunity. Though we’ve taken our fair share of cannonballs, we’ve not only recovered, but overcome. As we reflect on what makes our Catholic school so resilient and evolving, below are some of our favorite points on what we’ve learned from challenges we’ve faced and where we’re headed because of them.


Student Support

Our focus as a school is our students. Period. We’ve learned more and more over the past few years about the evolving needs of students than perhaps we ever knew previously. The pandemic has illuminated and exacerbated the struggles young people are facing daily, both inside and outside of the classroom. Here’s how we’re making strides:

  • School Leadership Team — A whole-of-school approach to addressing all facets of the student experience and providing more student and parent access to decision-makers. The team’s mission is to actively seek out and address student needs in order to build structures to address them.
  • Student Support Team — Actively identifies at-risk students who are struggling academically, socially, or otherwise and develops an action plan to help the student progress and succeed.
  • Bridge to Success Program — Designed to reintegrate students who have been out of school on extended absences due to medical, mental, or emotional circumstances back into the full Hendricken experience, inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Hawks Helping Hawks — A fund to provide lunch for students experiencing food insecurity which has been fully funded by donors in 2021-2022 for the first time in three years.
  • School Improvement Plan — A yearly set of 3-4 measurable goals that Bishop Hendricken develops to ensure growth. Progress toward each is tracked for reflection at the end of each academic year.
  • Study Academy — Aimed at providing increased access to class curricula during homeroom each morning for students in need of additional time with the material and a teacher.
  • 1:1 — Roll out of a one-to-one technology program that provides each incoming student with a school-issued laptop.

Here’s what’s coming up:

  • Hendricken Cares — A comprehensive approach to understanding and addressing harms to students: mental health, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and more.
  • Power School — Upgrading our student information system to provide a more unified, consistent, and user-friendly platform for more efficient communication between students, parents, and faculty.


Faculty & Staff Development

What we have to offer are our people and they are exceptional. Education as a whole has taken quite the cannonball over the past few years. Educators have been pushed to the brink in nearly every way, shape, and form. We’re working toward not only providing faculty and staff with more support, but also ensuring they have opportunity for professional development in an evolving educational ecosystem. Here’s what we’re doing:

  • ASCEND Fund — Soft launch of a fund exclusively for teachers with the goal of creating a long-term financial and resource supplement for our greatest asset: our faculty.
  • Emotional intelligence training — Professional development on trauma-informed teaching and how faculty can consider anxiety, depression, and mental health when communicating and instructing their classes.
  • Project-based, blended, and personalized learning — Extensive professional development in partnership with the Highlander Institute on combining instructional technology and traditional teaching best practice for success in the classroom. This included whole faculty workshops, small group practice, and one-on-one teacher coaching.
  • Faculty devices — Implemented a standard policy that provides each Bishop Hendricken faculty and staff member with a school-issued laptop or iPad.


Long-Term Sustainability

Ensuring student opportunity and long-term viability are top priorities for Bishop Hendricken. Catholic schools across the country have faced new challenges in enrolling students and raising critical funds for their communities in recent years. Here’s what we’ve accomplished:

  • The FUND for HENDRICKEN — An increase in dollar goals and totals, including record single days of giving, all to support every aspect of campus life.
  • Major gifts — An increase in major gifts to Bishop Hendricken, including new scholarship opportunities and capital improvements, as well as Bishop Hendricken’s largest single gift in school history in 2020.
  • Strategic plan — Activating the beginning stages of a new strategic plan with the primary goal of enhancing the academic environment of Bishop Hendricken.


Campus & Ground Improvements

To ensure we can provide the best education, we need to make improvements to the academic environment. Improvements to the physical campus and grounds can be seen sprouting up across 2615 Warwick Avenue. Here’s what we’ve done so far:

  • Dr. Frank A. DeLucia ’70 Leadership Center for Excellence — A new home for the Bishop Hendricken Leadership Academy and gathering space for lectures, speaking presentations, and seminars.
  • ViewSonic interactive displays — Completed two phases of installation, including outfitting the majority of campus with ViewSonic touchscreen monitors.
  • Opening up offices — Establishing more open office spaces that are accessible for students and parents to meet with school leaders, including the Principal’s Office, Athletic Director’s Office, and Main Office.
  • Dr. John S. Kacewicz ’68 Courtyard — A new outdoor gathering space for the community to experience campus for themselves during events. Reunions will return to campus in fall 2022 for alumni to see firsthand the progress we’re making.
  • 300 Wing — Infrastructural improvements, including new vinyl floor and roof.
  • Stage at McNally Gym — Resurfacing and curtain upgrades to the original McNally Gymnasium stage which will host Rhode Island’s first-ever show choir competition in the spring.
  • Ron Mosca ’73 Weight Room & Pepin Gym — An overhaul of Pepin Gymnasium, including a brand-new floor, roof, and complete renovation and dedication of the Ron Mosca ’73 Weight Room.


Bishop Hendricken is rising. Through faith, vision, and reflection, we’re taking cannonball moments and turning them into progress. We welcome you to let us know what you see next for us. Whether you recognize a challenge, opportunity, or chance to help, please don’t hesitate to call us at 401.736.5987, or email us at

God Bless!