The culture of HCA is expressed most vividly in the traditions that have developed since the first years of the Academy. These traditions naturally flow from our core values which provide meaning and structure to the entire school community, and which enrich the lives of students, teachers and families.
Here are several traditions at HCA which take place throughout the year:
Feast of the Holy Cross: The Academy celebrates its namesake feast on September 14 with Mass, the veneration of the Relic of the True Cross, and an ice-cream social at lunch.
Family Picnic: Held in late-September, the Family Picnic brings the families of all students together to share a barbeque meal, make new friends, and reconnect with old ones.
All Souls Day Cemetery Visit: During the first week of November, all classes make brief visits to local cemeteries to pray for the repose of all departed souls. This is in observance of All Souls Day, which is November 2.
Thanksgiving Dinner: Donors and local clergy are invited to HCA the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving Day to enjoy a meal with our students and teachers. Volunteers and students prepare and serve all the traditional Thanksgiving faire in our school kitchen and cafeteria, and the seventh grade class bakes a variety of homemade pies for dessert.
Blessed Sacrament Reserved during Advent & Lent: HCA has the highest honor and privilege of welcoming the greatest of Guests to our Academy: Jesus Christ Himself, present in the Blessed Sacrament. With the permission of the Bishop of Syracuse, HCA is permitted to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in our Chapel for one week during Advent and one week during Lent. Students take special advantage of these weeks to visit Our Lord throughout the school day.
Alumni Reunion: Alumni return to their alma mater in early January to reunite with their fellow classmates from recent years. English teacher Jerry Williams and the senior class prepare the traditional brunch, followed by an Alumni Forum attended by the juniors and seniors. Of course, the day isn’t complete without the Alumni vs. Students basketball game!
March for Life: The Academy travels to Washington D.C. in January to participate in the March for Life. The event is always held on or near the date of the infamous Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade (January 22, 1973). Students also visit many sites of historical and religious significance in the city.
Catholic Schools Week: The first week in February is celebrated as Catholic Schools Week throughout the United States. Highlights of the week include: an afternoon bowling trip; Teacher Appreciation Day, where families provide a delicious homemade lunch for teachers and students alike; School Spirit Day; and Twin Day. HCA also conducts a week-long Food Drive to support our local food bank.
Public Policy Day: In March, the senior class – as part of the Government course - travels to Albany for the NYS Catholic Conference’s Public Policy Day. Participants meet with their legislators in their Capitol offices to advocate for issues of concern to the Church. Our students also use this opportunity to tour the Capitol building and watch the State Assembly conduct a legislative session.
Annual Pilgrimage: The junior high and senior high classes each make an annual pilgrimage to holy sites and shrines both in New York and in bordering states. Recent pilgrimage sites include: the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs (Auriesville, NY); The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy (Stockbridge, MA); and the Shrine & Museum of Blessed Marianne Cope (Syracuse, NY).
Lent Retreat: To better prepare for Holy Week and the Easter Triduum, students participate in an afternoon or day-long a retreat during the Lenten season. Retreats have been directed by priests or religious brothers or sisters.
Spring Formal: In early May, the senior high classes gather for their annual formal dinner dance. To prepare for the evening, students take several dance lessons in the weeks beforehand.
The Cyrenian: The Cyrenian is an honor bestowed periodically upon an individual dedicated to the service of Christ and His Church. The honor takes its name from Simon of Cyrene, who assisted Jesus Christ in carrying His cross to Calvary (Matthew 27:32). Throughout history, there have been many Simons of Cyrene, dedicating their lives to assisting in the redemptive work of Christ, both in quiet and in public ways. Bishop James Moynihan was the first recipient of this honor in 2011.