St. Michael the Archangel High School Begins Its Mission

Jeremy Lillig, Dr. Dan Peters, Principal Jodie Maddox, President Father Richard Rocha, Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., Martha Kauffman, Vice-President Ken Kremer, and Dave Malanowski cut the ribbon and officially open St. Michael the Archangel Catholic High School during the opening ceremonies and blessing of the new high school on August 4. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

By Megan Marley
Catholic Key

New building, new tech, new school year—St. Michael the Archangel High School is open and set to start a fresh perspective on Catholic education, while keeping the timeless mission of teaching youth to know truth, love God, and serve others.

“Why build a new Catholic high school? The simple answer is the only real good answer: for the love of God and the salvation of souls. It is what we are charged to do; the Church cannot relinquish her mission of handing on the truth to the next generations. The Church cannot fail to assist families to raise their children to know who they are and what life’s true meaning is,” said Bishop James Johnston, Jr. in his remarks at the Rite of Blessing and Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic High School on August 4.

“We have to lead our young people to the pearl of great price, to a deeper living friendship with Jesus that will carry them through life. That is done first in the basic community of faith: the family. But it is complimented and reinforced by other friends in community by the Church; that is what St. Michael the Archangel High School will be,” he continued.

Around 200 religious, benefactors, students, families, local government leaders and other persons were in attendance for the blessing and dedication. Ceremonies began with a welcoming by Dr. Dan Peters, superintendent of Catholic Schools, followed with prayer and comments by Bishop Johnston and acknowledgements of supporters and benefactors by Father Richard Rocha, President of the high school.

“There are too many individuals involved in the project over the past 5 plus years to mention all of them, but each of these groups includes many team members and subcontractors involved in getting us to this point,” Fr. Rocha said. “Thank you for your personal commitment to the future of young men and women, committed to knowing truth, loving God, and serving others.”

Bishop Johnston blesses the new building with holy water. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

Some groups and persons acknowledged included the City and Police Department of Lee’s Summit, design teams Hollis and Miller Architects and SFS Architecture, contractor McCownGordon Construction, the diocesan building commission, religious orders for their support and prayers, and major benefactors and donors, including the Lamar and Rita Hunt family, the Joe Ismert and Mike Ismert families, and the Goppert Foundation.

After acknowledgements, Fr. Rocha, Bishop Johnston, Principal Jodie Maddox, Vice President for Advancement Ken Kremer, and the members of the diocesan planning committee cut a ribbon held by two St. Michael’s students, marking the official opening of the school. Bishop Johnston then blessed the school, and crucifixes and statues for each classroom, then fifteen priests blessed individual classrooms with holy water. After a final blessing, attendees were invited to self-guided tours of the high school and refreshments in the school dining area.

The opening of the school is the culmination of years of work. Ground was finally broken in March 2016. 16 months and $24 million later, the new 90,000 square foot building and grounds will welcome nearly 300 students for classes August 16.

Principal Jodie Maddox is ready for them.

“We’re looking forward to opening the doors, and eager to help our students to know Christ and to cultivate a community and environment that is inclusive and faith-filled,” she said.

“All of the decisions we make at St. Michael the Archangel are rooted in the same question: Does this help children know Jesus Christ? That obviously sets us apart from a public school,” said Maddox. She also said here are three key points that set St. Michael’s apart: the community system, the St. Michael Inclusive Learning Education (SMILE) program, and learning academies.

Principal Maddox leads intercessions during the blessing of St. Michael the Archangel High School. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

St. Michael’s community system divides the student population into three communities composed of several ‘houses’. Each house has students from freshman to senior grades, allowing youths to form relationships, develop leadership skills, and plan and study with others in every grade level.

“The community system is really there to help students have a relationship with one another as they grow in their relationship with Jesus,” Maddox said. “Anything we do as a school is run through the community system.”

The St. Michael Inclusive Learning Education (SMILE) program supports students of all abilities, and helps students with disabilities experience a Catholic education. The program follows students’ Individual Service Plans and Missouri education standards, and encourages participation in school activities and organizations appropriate to student needs. SMILE also encompasses the Mentor Program inherited from Archbishop O’Hara High School, having Junior and Senior mentors work with students in the classrooms.

“This is important to us; many Catholic schools don’t have programs that support all abilities, and we are committed to making sure that our school represents all God’s kingdom,” Maddox said.

The learning academies at St. Michael’s also give students the opportunity to explore the fields of aviation, business/computer science, human services, engineering/industrial tech, healthcare, and performing arts/communications. The academies serve as suggested tracks of study, but students are encouraged to investigate multiple fields to suit their strengths.

“We are not in the business of choosing careers for children, but we are in the business of discernment and discovery of God’s plan for them. So we’re trying to create an environment of discovery and exploration so students can find out God’s plan for their life,” said Maddox.

A 5K Walk on August 19 and Royals Roast with Rex Hudler on August 21 are being planned to benefit St. Michael the Archangel Catholic High School. For more information on these events or about the school, visit smacatholic.org.

The to-be-completed chapel at the heart of the school; the chapel is set to be finished and dedicated on the Feast of the Archangels September 29. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

A classroom in the new school.

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  • Tabitha Raised

    Congratulations!

Thursday
August 17, 2017
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph