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Community Update September 2023: We begin Anew


Every day is a day meant for living life to the full. We aren’t here to waste life, we’re here to shape it. To make something out of it that makes life better for the rest of the world, as well as for ourselves.

Joan Chittister, OSB

New Schedule, New Curriculum, New School Year

Two bouts of sauna-like heat notwithstanding, the nearly three-week-old school year is off to a marvelous start. Our students have settled into the routines of a new schedule and a new curriculum and the school is buzzing with activity. At our opening Convocation, we encouraged students to take the gift of this year to expand their minds, expand their experience, and expand their hearts – leaning-in to the promise of dreams and aspirations. Each year we begin anew. Every year, every day, everything is possible.

Fall Enrollment is Up (again)!

Our enrollment continues to grow. We enrolled 296 students at Prep this fall in grades 6 to 12, our highest total since 2012. Total school enrollment has grown by 16% in the last five years. We enrolled 66 new diploma-seeking students in fall 2023. Together with our 9 Austrian students and 6 Japanese students, we enrolled a total of 81 new students. New Prep students represented more than one-quarter of all Middle School and Upper School students this fall.

Our students this year hail from 14 different nations, four states, and 29 different communities in Minnesota – bringing an extraordinary diversity of culture and experience to the school. With 72 residents, Saint Michael Hall will house the largest number of students since fall 2015, bringing tremendous life and energy to campus. Boarding students – international and domestic – represent fully one-third of Upper School enrollment this fall. Looking forward, we plan to continue to grow over the coming years, with a goal of reaching 310 students, a target that will allow us to broaden curricular choices and expand co-curricular activities.

Advanced Placement (AP) courses, introduced this fall for the first time in more than a decade, have proven popular with Upper School students. Three-quarters of all 11th graders, and more than 90% of all seniors, are enrolled in at least one AP course this semester, with most enrolled in at least two. In addition, 20 Prep students – representing nearly 20% of all juniors and seniors – enrolled in collegiate courses at Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict this fall. Our students’ commitment to their education and aspiration is a daily source of wonder and joy.

Outdoor Classroom Construction to Begin this Fall

In October, construction will begin on an outdoor classroom to be located near the garden above our playing fields. Phase I (scheduled for completion in October) includes pouring the concrete slab on which the classroom will sit. Next summer, we will work with the Avon Folk Hills School to complete construction of the pine-timber structure (which will look like the bridge just south of the school along the path to the Stella Maris Chapel). Prep students and families will have an opportunity to participate in the assembly and construction of the classroom next June. We will provide more information later this year about how to get involved with building construction.

Funded by a generous donor and a grant, when completed next summer, the open-design classroom will be used for outdoor learning courses, including Environmental Studies, Nature and Naturalist, Outdoor Skills, Biology, and AP Biology. These classes provide an impressive outdoor curriculum and will expand opportunities for our students to study the local ecosystem. We are very excited to add the new outdoor classroom!

Moving Prep Forward

Last spring, we completed a feasibility study designed to evaluate support for a campaign to raise resources for a host of school needs and priorities. The results of the feasibility study were overwhelmingly strong and positive. Later this month, we will ask the Board of Regents to authorize planning for a comprehensive capital campaign, the school’s first comprehensive campaign in more than a generation. The planning phase, which we expect will play out from October 2023 through February 2024, will include focus group meetings of alumni, parents, friends, faculty and staff, and students, as well as a school-wide web survey, to shape and determine campaign priorities. Thus far, we have organized prospective campaign priorities around three broad themes: supporting affordability, improving the learning experience, and creating community. This is an exciting moment for Saint John’s Prep, one that reflects our deep commitment to providing our students an exceptional and distinctive learning experience. You can expect to hear much more campaign planning unfolds in the coming months!

Promise. Possibility. Potential. Those words describe not just the optimism of a new year but also Prep students and the Prep experience. We are deeply grateful for your continued support of Saint John’s Prep and we look forward to an amazing year!

Jon McGee                                     Christine Glomski

Head of School                                  Principal/Assistant Head of School