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A community where every child is loved and respected

What Can a Catholic School Offer Your Child?

Saint John’s Prep was founded in 1857 by the Order of Saint Benedict. As a Catholic school, religious art and materials are present on our campus, and Catholic values guide what and how subjects are taught. But it’s important to note that Catholic schools can vary significantly in their educational style, as well as their expectations.

If you have any reservations about sending your child to a Catholic school, we are happy to dispel some common myths. For example, our students don’t go to church every day. They also don’t wear uniforms, and if you were to stop by for a tour, you might be surprised at the amazing creativity and self-expression you’d see in our halls. And last (but not least), our teachers aren’t all monks and nuns.

However, there is one assumption that parents often make about a Catholic education that we are very proud to say is true at our school. We expect a lot from our students in terms of their academic performance and their behavior; in return, we give them more freedom and leadership opportunities than they’d find at a public school. 

Let’s explore parents’ frequently asked questions to help you get a better understanding of what a Saint John’s Prep education looks like.

Do You Have to be Catholic to Attend a Catholic School?

Neither you nor your child must be Catholic to attend a Catholic school. Our school is proud of its Catholic heritage, and our Benedictine values are reflected in our curriculum as well as our approach to teaching. But today, only around 40% of our students identify as Catholic. The next largest group is none or still deciding. With students from 10-15 different countries in any given year, we welcome students from all faiths and religious backgrounds. We encourage our students to participate in a level they feel comfortable, as well as explore and ask the hard questions of themselves as they explore what faith means in their own life.

How Is Catholic School Different Than Private or Public Schools?

In essence, a Catholic school is like any other private school in that they are allowed to set their own curriculum and standards for admission. Public schools are regulated by the United States Department of Education, and therefore, they must cater to all students in the same way. At Saint John’s Prep, we have the freedom to individualize a student’s education to best fit their learning style and needs.

If you’re deciding between a private or public school, there are a few things you should keep in mind. And while every school is different, and some aspects of education are impossible to measure, there’s quite a bit of data available that may simplify your decision-making.

1. Class Size

Class size is important to most parents for good reason. Not every child learns at the same pace or in the same way. If your child would benefit from more individual attention from their teacher, or if they’re shy, a smaller class size may prove helpful. Catholic schools are similar to other private schools in that the average class size is 20 students. Public schools are more likely to have around 30 students per class.

2. Cost

The cost of private school can be significant and may seem financially unattainable for many middle and lower-income families. At Saint John’s Prep, we believe that all students should be able to access an education that fits them best. As a result, we — as well as many faith-based schools — offer financial aid to make schooling more affordable. Through options including variable tuition assistance and scholarships, families can get support to pay for their student’s private education.

3. Staff

Each school is unique, and many public schools have incredibly dedicated teachers and administrative staff. However, private and parochial schools tend to prefer teachers who have more advanced degrees in their area of focus. And independent schools tend to stand out when it comes to school principals, who tend to be far more experienced and have more advanced degrees than their private school counterparts.

4. Spirituality

Public schools are prohibited from including religious teachings in their curriculum. However, it’s very difficult to understand much of human history, philosophy, literature, and art without the context of religious stories and teachings. Independent schools are not only free to discuss matters of faith, but they encourage their students to express their own thoughts and experiences on the subject.

At Saint John’s Prep, we are accepting of all spiritualities and religions. In fact, we are proud to have a diverse student body with different worldviews and perspectives. We encourage every student to explore their own faith and actively engage with their peers to better understand one another.

5. Co-Curricular Activities

Public schools throughout the United States have faced significant budget cuts, and many schools are beginning to cut from their arts and athletics departments. However, child development experts universally extol the benefits of sports as well as the arts on child development. Many private schools, Catholic and secular alike, have fantastic co-curricular programs, as well as the necessary facilities and budgets to accommodate them.

6. College Preparation 

Catholic schools have the opportunity to prepare students for college more extensively than public schools. In fact, students who go to a Catholic high school are more likely to graduate college. One of the factors behind this is  smaller counselor  to student ratios,  such as Saint John’s Prep’s 90:1 ratio. This focus on both a solid educational foundation and adequate preparation for post-secondary education prepare students for whatever they want to do after they graduate.

At Saint John’s Prep, our Benedictine values promote living in balance, and a focus on the common good. Our curriculum is focused on academic achievement, but within a community where every child is loved and respected. While many public and private schools are eager to promote individualism, we believe students ultimately gain more self-worth when they can see how their achievements can benefit others in addition to themselves. We believe this approach contributes significantly to our students’ 100% college admission rate.

We hope this information has helped simplify your decision. But if you still have questions about what it’s like to attend a Catholic school, please don’t hesitate to reach out for more information.  

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