St. Charles Borromeo Academy cuts ribbon to Classical Education

Bishop Johnston is joined by (l) Father Don Farnan, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, and (r) Father Phil Egan, pastor of Holy Family Parish, which sends children to St. Charles Borromeo Academy. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — August 16 was the first day of school for many diocesan elementary schools, including St. Charles Borromeo Academy. It was an historic first day for the school families, teachers and staff: the first day of a Classical Education in action. Late in the afternoon, Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., blessed the building and classrooms, interacted with students and, with Father Don Farnan, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, and Father Phil Egan, pastor of Holy Family Parish whose families send kids to St. Charles, cut the ribbon to officially open the Academy.

Last winter, it appeared that St. Charles School was on the fast track to closing. Principal Ann Lachowitzer assembled a team of parishioners, teachers and alumni to research ways of revitalizing the school and attracting new students. A Classical education model was selected, and preparations began.

St. Charles School is now St. Charles Borromeo Academy, a “classical liberal arts academy.” Classical education refers to the language and philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome, pursuant to seeing and embracing goodness, beauty and truth, much like Catholic education’s goals.  As the website says, “We seek to instill a natural desire for wisdom and virtue in all students.”

A classical education promotes critical thinking, learning how to think. A handout explained its values to parents last spring: “It is accessible to all students regardless of background or perceived aptitude.” Teachers employ all methods age-and-ability-appropriate. School enrollment has already increased by about 25 percent.

On the first day of the new school year, students saw the beginnings of new curriculums in religion and language. New uniforms with ties monogrammed with the initials SCBA are worn by the students.

Early in the day, one of the fifth-grade classrooms got into a Socratic discussion of the Pledge of Allegiance. A Socratic discussion is an argumentative, cooperative dialogue between individuals, wherein each part of the whole is dissected and discussed. The students excitedly shared what they learned from the discussion with the bishop while he was there.

The academy hosted an ice cream social for school and parish families with ice cream donated by Belfonte before the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Bishop Johnston spoke briefly about the new educational model and curriculum before a short service with readings and prayers asking God’s blessing on the Academy, the students and their families and the teachers and principal. He then blessed the building, the entry foyer, and the offices and classrooms. After blessing the interior, he returned to the entrance and joined Fathers Farnan and Egan at the red ribbon. Large “golden” scissors provided by the Gladstone Chamber of Commerce were used to cut the ribbon. Applause resounded.

Following the ribbon cutting, the parish and school families were invited to a dinner provided by Mike Garozzo, of Garozzo’s Ristorante in downtown Kansas City. Garozzo is a supporter of Catholic education and St. Charles Academy.

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September 25, 2017
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