“I would not be who I am today without St. James, and I wouldn’t trade it for twenty extra minutes of sleep in the morning, or a bunch of friends I’m already comfortable with.”
By Maddie Joerger, St. James Academy Senior
As a senior with only a couple weeks left in the school year, you could say I’ve gotten the gist of the senior question trifecta.
“Where are you going to college?”
“What are you planning on studying?”
“Are you ready to leave?”
While the answers to the first two questions don’t surprise most people (Benedictine- Go Ravens! And theology, let’s gooooo!), the answer to the last one catches people off guard. During one encounter in particular, I had a teacher of mine stop me in the hallway and ask me if I was ready for graduation.
“Nope,” I responded. “Not at all.”
Laughing, my teacher responded, “I think you’re the first senior who I’ve heard give that answer.”
I shrugged my shoulders and smiled back. “Well, sure I’m ready to be done with the school work, but there’s no way I’m ready to leave St. James as a community.”
Deciding on a Catholic High School to Attend
A little background for you: I entered St. James as one in a handful of students from Ascension Catholic School in Overland Park, Kansas. Most of my grade school class was attending St. Thomas Aquinas High School, which makes sense because it is a great school and only ten minutes away from St. James. In fact, before I took the highway, I would literally pass Aquinas on the ten-minute mark out of the thirty minutes it took me to drive to St. James.
So, to an outsider, St. James wasn’t the most logical option. The majority of my class was going to Aquinas, it was much closer, and it was a great school with great academics, athletics, and atmosphere. So why St. James?
Oh man, let me tell you.
St. James Fosters Community
The moment your son or daughter walks into the building, they are seen, loved, and cared for. Because the first day of school they are put into a literal community of peers and mentors who will walk with them the next four years — a built-in family. If you asked any student or alum what their favorite part about St. James is, most would immediately talk about their community; it’s one of those things that doesn’t ever leave you.
St. James Because of the Staff
Because of Officer Pierce greeting your kids at the door every morning, Dr. Rapp giving high fives on Fridays, and Mr. Keith saying hello to literally everyone in the hallways. The staff at St. James is like none other; helping students achieve great success is just one of the many goals and dreams they have for us. They talk to us outside of class, mentor us academically and spiritually, and attend our games, performances, and competitions. They want us to work harder, love better, and pray holier. They want us to get to Heaven.
St. James Holds One Another Accountable
Dr. Rapp will let your child know from day one that the main goal isn’t just for good grades, but to be the best version of ourselves possible. And that ideal isn’t limited to fanciful first day of the year talks, but throughout the whole semester. Each student is pushed to be his or her best in GRACE women’s group and Men of St. James’ men’s group. These groups are led by teachers and students are taught how to be creative through various art, literature, and even sticker clubs. Students are also given opportunities to put ideas into reality through Student Counseling team, Marketing Aids, and Campus Ministry teams. St. James takes the talents of the students and fosters them into something greater.
St. James Because of Spirituality
It’s not something you can replace, mimic, or copy and paste anywhere else. St. James geographical and spiritual center is the heart of Jesus. Where else would you want your child to be? The day starts with Mass and ends with a prayer. Every class attends retreats that allow the students to take a deep breath and refocus on Christ. And if your child needs a breather outside of retreat, they can simply ask their teacher to go AWOL (Away with our Lord) and talk it out with Jesus in the chapel. St. James understands that while excellence in academics, athletics and community is important, Heaven is more so. The Heart of Jesus is the center and Heaven is the goal, and that is reflected in every part of St. James.
Words cannot express how grateful I am for my school. I know that I would’ve had an amazing experience at any high school (our archdiocese has the good kind of problem where every school is great!) but I know I wouldn’t have had these encounters anywhere else. I would not be who I am today without St. James, and I wouldn’t trade it for twenty extra minutes of sleep in the morning, or a bunch of friends I’m already comfortable with. I wish I had more time to spend with this community, but I know that St. James didn’t form me to stay here, but to go out and “pass on the faith.” I am not afraid because I’ve been formed well, and I’ve been loved well — that’s not something I’ll ever be ready to leave.
By Maddie Joerger, St. James Academy Senior