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Network of Sacred Heart Schools


From freshman year to senior year, Sacred Heart Preparatory’s rigorous academic program challenges students to think critically about society and its values, to thoughtfully participate in the exchange of ideas, to develop a social awareness supported by individual action, and to grow spiritually by connecting personal beliefs with contemporary culture.

The SHP curriculum emphasizes serious study and social responsibility, grounded in strong faith and taught in small, seminar-style classes. Teachers employ a wide variety of assessment methods, including objective and free response tests, essays, research papers, oral presentations, group projects, and performances. SHP students typically take six academic courses per semester, and complete a total of eight semesters of religious studies, which is taught from an inclusive, Christian framework.

A strong interdisciplinary approach, integration of experiential service learning, and lively classroom analysis, debate, and discussion further enrich the SHP student experience and deepen the learning process. Additionally, exploring the relationship between faith and reason, students develop an appreciation for the role of prayer and reflection in the intellectual life.

Academic Policies

SHP requirements for graduation meet or exceed other independent or Catholic schools in the area, and student performance on national standardized tests reflects the high academic standards in place. Students find themselves extraordinarily well prepared for college, university life and beyond.

Advanced Courses

List of 3 items.

  • Advanced Placement (AP)

    Advanced placement courses are offered in 20 subjects across the curriculum, and students enrolled in AP courses are required to take the respective offered exam. Approximately 450 AP exams are administered each May, more than 80 percent of which receive passing scores.

    AP Courses offered
    • Computer Science (Computer Science, Computer Science Principles)
    • English (Language, Literature)
    • Fine Arts (Music Theory, Photography and Studio Art)
    • Math (Calculus, Statistics)
    • Science (Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Physics)
    • Social Science (US Government, US History, World History)
    • World Languages (French, Latin, Mandarin, Spanish)
  • Honors Courses

    Freshman honors courses are available in Math, Science and World Languages. In all other subject areas, honors courses are available beginning in the sophomore year.
  • Independent Study

    Seniors who have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in an area of study may undertake a Senior Honors Independent Study Project. With the guidance of on-campus and off-campus mentors, students engage in a semester of self-directed study on a topic of their own choosing.

    The Senior Honors Independent Study Program serves a highly motivated group of students who wish to pursue an area of special academic interest during a semester of their senior year. Participants must qualify for the program by taking the most rigorous courses (i.e., honors and AP) in the relevant subject area over their preceding three years at SHP and, subsequently, earning an A average in all courses in this subject area. They must also submit an application that includes a statement of purpose, a detailed bibliography, letters of recommendation, and letters of support from three off-campus mentors (university professors or professionals with expertise in the selected subject area) who agree to work with the student. Applications are officially approved by a review committee that comprises the SHP Department Heads, the SHIS Coordinator, and the Assistant Principal for Academic Life. Students collaborate with an on-campus mentor in the sponsoring department who oversees progress, meets regularly with the student, and does all assessment. Students offer a 30- to 45-minute presentation at the end of the semester, during which they discuss their research and conclusions. These presentations provide a question and answer session at the end of each presentation and are open to students, faculty, staff, trustees and parents.

Distinguished Programs

List of 5 items.

  • Creative Inquiry Lab

    The SHS Creative Inquiry Lab seeks to develop in students the mind-sets, dispositions, and qualities of character that define a creative, collaborative person. To achieve this end, the Lab supports and facilitates creative action in in whatever form it may take-- mechanical, artistic, entrepreneurial, innovation, advocacy, and social justice, to name a few.

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  • SHS Farm & Gardens

    Under supervision of the program director, the 10,000-square-foot organic garden is maintained and operated by Sacred Heart students and faculty year around as part of Environmental Science and Global Studies courses. The SHS Farm, which features both small livestock and fowl, is similarly managed, with students in some courses regularly participating in the animal care.

    The school is the first in San Mateo County to be approved by the Department of Environmental Health Services Division to use fruits and vegetables grown in its own organic garden for preparation in its school cafeteria. Harvested produce, as well as products such as cheese, salsa, caramel sauce, and soap made by the students, are shared with the school cafeterias and with local organizations in need, and sold at the campus farmer’s market.

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  • Academic Support Center (ASC)

    The SHP Academic Support Center (ASC) provides dedicated learning support for students with mild to moderate learning differences in grades 9-12, their families, and faculty to ensure the academic success of each student throughout high school and in preparation for the transition to college. Open daily and staffed with five full-time teachers and a board-certified educational therapist, the ASC learning specialists are an essential resource for students, applying all available tools, strategies and best practices.

    Learn more
  • Service Learning

    Strongly connected with the mission of the school, service learning is integrated throughout the SHP educational program. Through the SHP Service Learning program, students develop civic leadership skills, think critically about the world around them, and learn how to take immediate action in support of social justice or to effect social change. A requirement for graduation, service projects engage students in local, national, and international communities, empowering them to identify with and act on behalf of marginalized communities.

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  • Global Initiatives

    The development of a strong global perspective, cross-cultural understanding, and caring, human relationships is at the heart of St. Madeleine Sophie’s vision for the Society of the Sacred Heart. Global Initiatives at SHP span both the academic and experiential, and are deeply rooted in the spirit of the Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria.

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List of 2 members.

  • Photo of Jennifer Whitcomb

    Jennifer Whitcomb Ph.D. 

    Principal - SHP & English Teacher
  • Photo of Anna McDonald

    Anna McDonald Ed.D., ET/P 

    Assistant Principal Academic Life - SHP
Where Scholarship and Values Matter
Founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart, SHS is a Catholic, independent, co-ed day school for students in preschool through grade 12