PART III - SUMMARY
Chicago may be the second city, but it is second to none in being an exceptional place to raise children. More and more families who could choose to move to the suburbs are instead choosing to stay in the city to raise their children. Many of those in the Lincoln Park area are selecting St. Josaphat School to educate their children. Established in 1884, the school experienced times of expanding and falling enrollment. By 1986 the school was in danger of closing due to declining enrollment. Today, it is a vibrant, growing school with a student population in preschool through eighth grade that has increased from 255 to 330 over the past 4 years.
The school and parish are in the midst of a capital campaign with a goal of raising 5 million dollars, 4 million of which will go to the school, to add a new building and renovate existing ones. Parent loyalty to the school and its educational mission can be seen in the success of this campaign in these difficult economic times. Over 60% of school families pledged in the first three months of the campaign with nearly three million dollars pledged so far. The goal is to have 100% of the parent population pledge. Even parents with very limited means have made a modest pledge.
St. Josaphat School’s philosophy states that the school exists to create a Christian educational community where knowledge and culture, integrated with faith, are shared among students, teachers, staff, and parents. Because of the belief that parents are the primary educators of their children, SJS strives to maintain a working partnership with them in educating students. Parents are truly educational partners at St. Josaphat School. Each family is asked to complete twenty volunteer hours each school year with 100% compliance. The majority of families willingly volunteer more hours than required. Parent volunteers are an integral part of the fabric of the school and the frequent two-way communication keeps each family “in the loop”.
Sharing among students, teachers, administrators, and parents, while a daily occurrence, can be easily seen through two all-school, cross-curricular integrated projects. All students from Preschool through 8th grade learn with the same topical theme during a two-week period twice a year. In March, the entire school studies the Iditarod sled dog race. Lessons related to Alaska, sled dogs, and racing are studied in all curricular areas. This leads to wonderful dinner table conversations bridging all age levels at home and at school. The second all-school integrated project culminates in the International Day and Night. Each class studies a different country and culture across the curriculum and finally decorates the classroom to depict that country. Parents are involved from beginning to end, helping teachers to find resources, decorate the classroom, and cooking food from the target country for the evening event open to all.
St. Josaphat School has a strong emphasis on service that permeates all we do. Students learn service as a part of day-to-day life, not as an add-on for a specific goal. Each classroom supports an orphan through “Friends of the Orphans”. They not only raise money for, but also write to and receive letters from the child monthly. In addition, classes regularly prepare and serve food at a homeless shelter. Second and seventh grade students regularly visit and create ongoing relationships with the residents in a local retirement home. Canned goods and clothing are collected and donated to local shelters. Recently, the SJS community sent many pounds of Halloween candy to troops in Iraq.
The SJS graduate has a strong academic foundation coupled with a sense of faith, community, and service.
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