The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation’s newest Peace Certified School is Sacred Heart, the only dual language immersion school in the Archdiocese of Washington. Sacred Heart offers a bilingual education in Spanish and English to its 215 students in pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade, with students in early childhood education taught in Spanish, students in the first through fourth grade having one day of classes in all subjects in English and the next day in Spanish, and starting in fifth grade, certain classes are taught to students in Spanish, including global studies and Spanish language arts, where students read chapter books and write essays in Spanish.

As part of our 2020 Peace Days events, Mattie’s Foundation held a Poster Contest, with Brooklyn based Artist Ed Heck providing artwork for our entrants to respond to. Sacred Heart took home first place honors in the school category, with 32 students sending in their interpretations of Mattie’s message. These beautifully creative works of art can be viewed HERE.

Mattie also inspired part of the new Palomas de la Paz art installation at Sacred Heart School; peace doves that adorn the offices, hallway, and stairwell of the school. Elise Heil, the principal of Sacred Heart School in Washington, received a Peace Matters Certificate from the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation recognizing the school for its peace education during a Sept. 21, 2020 Mass at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart. The live streamed Mass, held on the International day of Peace, honored the late teen poet Mattie Stepanek for his poems advocating peace, and was offered to encourage Sacred Heart students to continue to pray and work for peace. Karhime, a 7th grader at the school, said “To me, my bird represents calmness and light, just like Mattie. I say this because Mattie was a calm person and was very faithful and knew that God was with him all the time. He also seemed fun to be around and he always found the light from the darkness. While he was in the hospital, I didn’t see that he was sad. He always had a smile on his face. He always had God.”

To view the original article in the Catholic Standard, click HERE.

At a surprise assembly held on February 5, 2021, Elise Heil, the principal of Sacred Heart School, was announced the Archdiocese of Washington’s Distinguished Principal of the Year for the 2020-21 school year. To view the original article, click HERE.

The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation is looking forward to continuing to support the wonderful work being done at Sacred Heart, and hopes to be able to visit again in person this summer!