We officially began our 189th academic year, with the Mass of the Holy Spirit, celebrated by Fr. Larry Frasier. Fr. Larry, who recently retired as the Pastor of St. Joseph-on-Carrollton Manor will serve with Fr. Mike Kuhn as our campus Chaplain. We are fortunate to have 2 priests who will be with us 3 days a week. While they will do occasional guest lectures their important work will be their availability to our students, faculty, and staff. I am confident that their informal teaching will be a source of support for our school community.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Last year I talked a bit about witnessing the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our school community. St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians, who themselves were converts, urged them to live by the Holy Spirit in their lives, especially in their places of work (Galatians 5:22-23). St. Paul enumerated nine fruits for discerning the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Nine actions that are within our reach and can truly transform our lives and Saint John’s.
We know the Holy Spirit is on our campus when we witness:
- Love - sacrifice in service to others.
- Joy - an inner assurance that our will is aligned with God’s will.
- Peace - tranquility. St. Thomas called this the “tranquility of right order”. This means a mature emotional life, full of real forgiveness and understanding.
- Patience - being kind when we receive unwelcome or unkind actions. We know good things take time.
- Kindness - respect for all human life.
- Generosity - freely giving ourselves to others.
- Faithfulness - dependability, reliability, friendship, commitments kept.
- Gentleness - not being arrogant. Gentleness is not weakness but strength.
- Self-control - saying “no” to oneself and not being trapped by momentary pleasures but being in control in order to serve the larger good.
If we are to live lives worthy of our calling as a Catholic high school all of us must serve in a manner that will allow the Holy Spirit to fill our personal lives with these fruits. These are not virtues, but rather the acts that we must continually perform on our campus community. St. Thomas Aquinas notes that these acts must be done with a sense of true pleasure and ease.
We Welcomed New School Leaders
As we began our new year, we welcomed our new Principal, Mr. Will Knotek. Mr. Knotek has already made a difference in our school. I am confident that his leadership will help us reach a new level of excellence.
We also employed Ms. Jill Seaman as our new Assistant Principal for Academics. In addition to supporting our faculty, she will be working on numerous initiatives to improve the quality of instruction.
Our new Director of Athletics, Mr. Peter Strickland began his service meeting with our coaches and hiring Mr. Sam Hardy to serve as Assistant Athletic Director. Mr. Strickland is forging a team of coaches that will help our students be successful in competitions and in life.
Ms. Kate Quinn has begun her service as Director of Campus Ministry. She has already arranged a retreat for our new students and another retreat for all faculty and staff. Ms. Quinn will be busy extending campus ministry services and helping our students be leaders in their faith.
As we begin the academic year, I note how fortunate we are as educators to have supportive parents. Our parents lend their children to us for a few hours a day trusting us to give them a superior academic foundation and prepare them for college. In a larger sense, our parents ask us to help shape their children into responsible, caring, fun-loving young adults. And we know that all of our parents make a significant financial sacrifice to have their children attend Catholic Prep.
We have a solemn bond with our parents. We share a sacred partnership with them as we help their children reach their goals. A hallmark of our school must be the extraordinary respect and appreciation we pay to our parents. As those of us who are parents know, parenthood is no cake walk! So, we pay the debt we owe our parents by keeping our promise to parents every day and in every interaction with our students.
Major Objectives for This Year
In addition to our regular, on-going work to fulfill our mission, we have articulated a number of major objectives we will complete this year to better serve our students. Let me highlight just a few.
The construction projects will be our main focus. First, we need to solve the problem of a barely adequate septic system that was constructed for an elementary school. We are hoping to get permission to connect to the Frederick County system as it will allow us to grow and it will be a permanent fix.
Once that is underway we will begin the school addition. This will give us an expanded cafeteria, a multi-purpose room, a new lounge for faculty and staff, a chapel, and several new classrooms.
At about the same time we will begin construction of a new athletic stadium for football, soccer, and lacrosse programs. Having our own stadium will be an asset to the entire campus community.
We will also work with our student leaders to strengthen our Student Government Association and give our students more opportunities to help lead the school.
In a direct response to a number of parent requests, we will consider developing a summer school program to augment academic progress.
We are also working on a special prayer book for Saint John’s. We hope to have this completed by Christmas.
Please know that I consider it a distinct privilege to be the President of Saint John’s Catholic Prep and I will continue to strive to work in a manner worthy of your trust and respect.
May the peace and love of Jesus Christ be with you and your families forever.Thomas H. Powell President