When I arrived at St. Charles in 2015, I discovered that we were distracted by many things. We lacked pure joy and lost our gaze on Jesus. So today I stand here before you in thanks and deep appreciation because you have given us the opportunity to reboot. Not all schools on the verge of closure are so lucky. Borromeo Academy is one of them. My goal here this morning is to update you on what has occurred this past year. One simple word comes to my mind each time I enter the building. JOY.
Joy is a treasure. Not like a piece of gold or the Hope diamond. It’s a living treasure, one that makes us whole. The thing is… everyone can see our own personal joy. It is contagious and can be spread by treating others with the kindness and gentleness that stems from one’s personal, close, relationship with Jesus. A community, if filled with the kind of focus on Christ, can spread joy. And for a while, we lacked pure, spiritual joy. Teachers were here doing what they do best, but we were distracted. Distracted by the latest educational gimmick that will improve test scores, stem, and low enrollment just to name a few. While we were Catholic, we were not experiencing joy on the deepest level.
A school lacking joyful teachers and staff becomes more focused on what is missing and less grateful. After all, when we lose sight of Christ, we start to doubt, open ourselves up and entertain negative thoughts, our trust in God is undermined. If we keep our gaze steady on Jesus Christ and make Him our Savior, leader, and guide, then we experience unbelievable joy as a result.
And that is exactly what we did. We talk a lot about joy at Borromeo Academy these days. Joy is a funny thing. It can completely engulf us and yet be entirely elusive. On the verge of closing a school, joyfulness eluded us. Through the financial and spiritual support of the many people in our community and beyond Shady Lane, we discovered joy again. You see, Jesus made a way for us to have joy… big, bright, unbridled joy. He wants us to have the very same joy that He has. It all depends on us.
So often in history, we have seen the depth of the troughs of scandal, evil, disease, greed, war, and the list goes on. When things seem at their worst, a renewal is working through the background, growing, gaining strength, and ready to rise. Borromeo Academy experienced that renewal through the adoption of the classical model. A joyful model that affords us a strong Catholic identity. After all, our Catholic identity is the foundation of our school, the reason for our existence. A Catholic education is the formation of boys and girls who will be good citizens of this world, loving God and neighbor and who will also be citizens of the world to come, thus fulfilling their destiny to become saints.
Once a melancholy culture, the halls of Borromeo Academy are experiencing a reboot, a new start. Our teachers have worked incredibly hard over the past two years to transform our school. We have changed many things. New curriculum materials, teacher training opportunities, and physical changes to the environment. New windows, updated school lobby with a gallery wall, a conference room, and our new second-floor arts center including a chapel and library. The parish, too, has experienced growth with a brand-new parish office building, gathering space and the long-awaited elevator!
Not only has the physical appearance changed, but the academy has grown to nearly two hundred students from a low of 123 in 2016. Just the other day we welcomed a new family to the community, which now puts our 6th grade at capacity! We have a long-range plan is in place for expansion of educational services including a Montessori track in our early childhood program and plans to offer homeschooling families part-time courses. Our teachers are hard at work forming disciples by teaching scholars about respect, morality, and self-control through the classic liberal arts approach. The students have been exposed to new coursework including Latin and are experiencing new ways of learning such as Socratic circles, and embodied learning such as monastery day (Where 4th & 7th graders took a vow of silence). We brought back diagramming sentences, recitations, and learning about historical time periods.
Yes, we have experienced joy again at St. Charles. The joy of learning. In our natural state, it’s fun to learn, but so many times, school deadens our desire to seek knowledge rather than encourage it. In a classical Catholic school, the focus is on enriching the human soul and providing an environment of joyful learning rather than churning out successful test takers. At Borromeo Academy, our classical curriculum encourages deep thought and exploration that sparks delight, even as it challenges. We seek to permeate joy into everything we do and say.
But the work is not finished, we must maintain a growth mentality. Our goal is to continue to increase enrollment and provide a high-quality classical education graduating students that can think well, write well, and speak well. In order to do reach our goals, we must conduct marketing efforts and provide classical and spiritual training for our teachers. These items require extra funding above budgeted items. Hence why we are here today. I humbly ask you today to help us find the joy that God has for us. Joy is something that completes us and, in its fullness, spills out into the lives of others. Won’t you help us spread the joy of classical education?
Principal, Borromeo Academy
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