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Saint John’s Prep: Convocation 2021

Saint John’s Prep Begins 165th Year with Convocation ceremony

Saint John’s Prep hosted Convocation 2021 in the Saint John’s Abbey Church on August 25, 2021. This ceremony marks the 165th year of education for Saint John’s Preparatory School. The program included a march of flags, blessings, words of wisdom and inspirational messages as we launched the new school year. Click here to watch a recording of the ceremony.

Saint John’s Abbey Abbot and Saint John’s Prep Chancellor John Klassen, OSB ’67 blessed our school, students, faculty and community. Principal Dr. Christine Glomski introduced new faculty and staff members. Student Council President Anson Mies ’22 spoke to his schoolmates about how to make the most of their school year.

Head of School Jon McGee challenged our students to take full advantage of the opportunities this school year offers. His remarks are below.

Welcome!  Willkommen.  Bienvenidos.  Huan ying. Benvenuto. Yo kosó.  Hwan yeonghadá.

What a privilege and joy it is to welcome you!  It is good to SEE you, to HEAR your voices, to feel JOY and ENERGY as we come together as a whole community, without Zoom, in this magnificent place for the first time since February 2020.  We are live for 2021!

It’s the first day of school and everything is new. For new students, faculty, and staff, welcome to Saint John’s Prep. We are excited that you’ve chosen this remarkable school. I encourage you to take full advantage of the opportunity to experience, learn, and lead in this wonderful community.

For returning students, faculty, and staff, welcome back. There’s always a something old/something new quality to the first day of school: a familiarity with friends, place, and routine, but the knowledge that we have changed at least in some way since we last saw each other. I’m hopeful that one of the enduring lessons of the pandemic is the importance of community – learning together, playing together, laughing together, sometimes crying together. We’ve all learned lessons about the importance of US and our NEED for each other. It’s good to be back.

This is my 40th first day of school – encompassing all the years I was in school or working at the College of Saint Benedict, Saint John’s University and Saint John’s Prep. I have looked forward to and loved the first day of school my whole life. It’s shiny and new and full of possibilities. Everything is possible on the first day.

6th graders, please stand. Seniors, please stand and face the 6th graders.

To our 6th graders: Welcome to your first first day at Saint John’s Prep. I know this is new to you – a new school, new teachers, and new friends. It can be a little scary. I get that. All of us were new once – most of us have been new many times. But that’s OK. Ms. Biechler and Ms. Severson are terrific teachers – and they are both pretty new, too! Look at the seniors. That will be you sooner than you may think. Learn from them.

To Seniors: Welcome to your last first day at Prep. We will bid you adieu later, but for now, enjoy this day and this moment. You surely have figured out what your parents and teachers have long known: time passes very quickly. You have big decisions to make this year. But take advantage of this gift of a new year – make the most of it, don’t write it off, and never wish time away. Look at the 6th graders. That was you just a few years ago. Teach them and lead them. You may all sit down.

I thought a lot about the best image to describe Saint John’s Prep and ultimately landed on tapestry. Tapestry is an ancient form of textile art, traditionally woven by hand. It’s made up of individual threads – wool, cotton, and linen, sometimes gold, silver, or another substance that can be spun into a thread. Thousands and thousands of individual threads of varying lengths and colors are woven together to form beautiful art or to tell a grand story. Each is important as a singular thread, but each also is vital to the whole.

In her classic song, Tapestry, Carole King sang

My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue, an everlasting vision of the ever-changing view, a wond’rous woven magic in bits of blue and gold, a tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold.

I love the lyric and I love the metaphor, because we, too, are a tapestry at Prep. Each of us is a thread that adds wonder, beauty, and life to this community. We hail from Austria, China, Ethiopia, Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Vietnam, Red Lake Nation, Wisconsin, California, and 28 different communities in Minnesota. We come from far and near. We represent different cultures. We have different points of view. We each have a people story and a family story that is unique to us.

But here in this place, now/today, we together will begin to form our own wonderful tapestry, one that over the course of the year will reveal what is interesting, compelling, distinctive, and special about US. That makes us a COMMUNITY. We are both the artist and the subject of our tapestry.

So what kind of community will we be this year at Saint John’s Prep? Joan Chittister is a Benedictine sister and a wonderful writer, theologian, and speaker. She describes community in the most compelling way I can imagine:

Community…calls me beyond the pinched horizons of my own life, my own country, my own race, and gives me the gifts I do not have within me.

What should that mean for us as we begin a new year? Choose kindness. Choose wonder. Choose to listen with ear of your heart. Choose hope. Choose purpose. Choose joy.


It’s the first day of school and everything is possible for the amazing tapestry that is Saint John’s Prep.

Welcome back!