St. Regis Academy: New beginnings

Standing in the entry way to St. Regis Academy, Bishop Johnston reads the special blessing for the Academy and its new curriculum, and for its students and teachers and their families, following the Mass opening the new academy and the new academic year on Aug. 16. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — The Back-to-School Mass Aug. 16 at St. John Francis Regis Church was very special this year, as Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., described it, “a day of new beginnings.” In his opening remarks at the beginning of the Mass, he welcomed the students, teachers, parents and parishioners in attendance. He said it was a “special, historic day when students would remember being a part of the new beginnings.”

Earlier this year, Fr. Sean McCaffrey, St. Regis parish pastor, and Robin Sowders, school principal, announced that the academic program at St. Regis School was to change to a Classical Liberal Arts curriculum beginning this fall. The Mass celebrated the new program, the students and the new school name — St. Regis Academy.

Bishop Johnston was the principal celebrant at the Mass which Fr. McCaffrey concelebrated.

In his homily, the bishop spoke again of beginnings. He harkened back to an afternoon with his family in Knoxville, Tenn.; practicing archery with his nieces, Anna and Mary. “The beginning is really important,” he said. “This is true with anything we do — we have to get it right, at the beginning. We do that today. St. Regis Academy begins today. Same buildings, but some things new. Like shooting an arrow at a target, we want to get it right at the beginning. We ask the Holy Spirit for help to get our aim right.

“What’s new? The approach we take to Catholic education here is changing to the Classical approach. It’s not what our students learn, it’s also how and when they learn. All learning is interrelated, and all learning comes from the same source — God. The classical model seeks to develop the whole person.”

When Jesus sent his disciples out to brings his teachings to the masses, he continued, he sent the Holy Spirit to them. Like the disciples, “we won’t be successful unless this project, this new arrow, is built upon the Holy Spirit.” Teachers, parents, grandparents, and priests want the children in the diocesan schools to be smart and successful, but more importantly, to be wise and good. “We’re all simply workers,” he concluded, “but we want the work to be God’s.”

Immediately following the Mass, Bishop Johnston said a special blessing for the new St. Regis Academy, and then, accompanied by a server, blessed the classrooms, offices and hallways.

Robin Sowders later gave the Catholic Key some of the details about the Academy’s new Classical Liberal Arts curriculum.  “We are jumping into the history component right away.  We feel that this is one of the highlights of Classical Education and will be one of the most exciting and notable changes for our students. Subjects like Latin, English Grammar Recitation, Classical Composition, and Logic will be phased in over the next 2-3 years. Students will begin with these subjects at a base level this year and as we continue with the Classical Curriculum they will increase in difficulty.”

St. Regis Academy is now one of the FIRE Foundation partner schools, and 22 students with diagnosed special needs will benefit from the added support. Sowders explained, “It is with the support of FIRE that we are able to provide services to better meet the needs of many students who have already been attending St. Regis as well as open the doors to others whom we may not have been able to serve in the past. In partnering with FIRE, the idea of inclusion has been made part of our school culture. All of our community and all of our scholars will benefit from being inclusive to all of God’s children.”

She continued, “There is certainly a new energy and new excitement surrounding this school year.  Many parents and scholars have commented about how excited they are and how much they are looking forward to the new model. There are 137 scholars enrolled, an increase from last year! It is no secret that this will be a journey for our community.  Not only will our scholars be learning this year, but our staff and community will be learning as well.  We are blessed to have a visitor from the Institute of Catholic Liberal Education coming at the end of August to provide continued training for our staff and to share more about the success of the model with our parents and parishioners.”

The students, faculty and staff are excited to be taking on the Classical Curriculum journey, she said, and about growing in the field of STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, art, and math). “As St. Regis staff, we whole-heartedly believe in the power and impact that partnering these initiatives together can have in the lives of our scholars.”

St. Regis Academy seeks to become a local leader in graduating young men and women who are spiritually and academically prepared for a lifetime of discipleship, Sowders said. They are partnering with parents, the first teachers of their children, to provide a Catholic Classical Liberal Arts Education centered on Christ and cultivating an environment that fosters a student’s natural desire for Truth, Beauty and Goodness, she said.


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September 26, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph