Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Both/And at STM of Going "In-Depth" in Prayer and the Classroom

"From the Eucharist comes strength to live the Christian life and zeal to share that life with others." -St. Pope John Paul II
Last week we had our monthly all school Adoration worship liturgy. This is a time for all of our students, faculty, and staff to gather as one in adoring our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and for prayer. We are truly blessed at STM to have this opportunity to gather as one to be with our Lord for quiet and for prayer. Many of our students can feel overwhelmed by the “noise” they experience throughout the day.  The opportunity to be “in-depth” with our Lord free from distraction is a time for our students to draw the strength, peace, and direction needed in their lives. It is not easy for them to live in a world that does not embrace our Catholic Faith and so as St. Pope John Paul II said, it is from the Eucharist, from Christ who gives the strength to pursue and lead lives of virtue and holiness and be a light for others.

This time to be “in-depth” with the Lord in Adoration is an example of the how we enter into the classroom of prayer to be taught by Him who knows us best. In the same way, our students engage in the classroom of their various subjects to be taught by our teachers who are masters of their content area and share their wealth of knowledge and wisdom with the students. With moving to the Trimester schedule next year, our students and teachers will be able to go more in-depth with their learning and content with the longer class periods. Instead of feeling rushed throughout the class period and school day, teachers and students can go deeper with their learning and content by engaging in good meaningful discussion, contemplating truth in their class, and seeing the beauty of learning. This is another example of how the “both and” of our Catholic Faith shines through in our mission of Catholic Education at STM. This will only strengthen our faith and academics at STM in the future.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Homecoming & The Family System at STM

This week as we celebrate Homecoming, it is an opportunity for us to gather as a family at STM in celebrating what we are about at the High School of Saint Thomas More. As a family, we gather as a community of believers united in our Catholic Christian Faith. Our Sabers have gathered in their families for Hallway decorating, competition at Lunch, fellowship & food for our House Lunch Fridays, and finally with building Saber Spirit at our Homecoming Pep Rally on Friday by recognizing the various STM clubs, groups, and athletic teams. Our Saber Spirit Rally will also include some friendly competition as well between the families to get us ready for the big homecoming football game. 

With the implementation of the Family System, this allows our Sabers to gather for more than just the intellectual formation, but for building relationships with one another to help one another navigate through the journey of life. We are excited about being able to fully implement the Family System along with the Trimester Schedule for the 2019-20 School Year. Here are some reasons for the Family System and the benefit that this will have on building our Catholic Identity at STM.

By incorporating the Family System into the daily life at STM, we are living out the mission of the Church in creating and building community life among our students, staff, and teachers. Daily House time will allow our students to build and form relationships with other students they may not have otherwise and to build a culture centered on the other instead of the “me” culture that our society often creates. Bishop Thomas Olmstead stated in his exhortation “Evangelizing through Catholic Schools” that “Jesus Himself taught His disciples in the context of fraternity and friendship. In a world that is often trying to replace authentic friendship with superficial and technological connections, a Catholic school is a Spirit-filled community of young people that affirms their dignity in being made in God’s image and likeness.” We want to imitate this same community of believers that Jesus formed during His time on Earth, which has become the Church today.

Not only will this build community among our students, staff, and teachers, but also will help to build leadership skills in a very real and intentional way. Just as we imitate Jesus as the Master Teacher in the classroom, so we imitate Him in building our students as leaders as He did with the Apostles. The Family system will allow multiple opportunities each year for students to hold leadership positions and also with
guidance and mentoring from the Family Director, Family Deans, and House Mentors, the ability to grow in their leadership skills. This ability to identify and form students as leaders will help them in their lives after college in whatever vocation they have to be leaders in our community and world that is in need of true servant leadership modeled after Christ.

Daily House Time will also allow for an increase in student, teacher, and staff participation in the Sacraments and Prayer. Houses will have the opportunity to attend Mass and Reconciliation throughout the school day in addition to our monthly All School Mass and Adoration Liturgies. By making the Sacraments more accessible to our Sabers it helps them to develop a Sacramental Life connected to a living relationship and encounter with Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict XIV stated the importance of this in speaking with Catholic Educators when he said  First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals His transforming love and truth.

St. Thomas More...Pray for Us!

Friday, September 21, 2018

The High School of Saint Thomas More Announces New Class Schedule

The High School of Saint Thomas More would like to share some exciting news about the future of the school. In the 2019-2020 school year, STM will implement a trimester class schedule in order to better incorporate a Family System into the daily life of the school.

With the Family System, STM lives out the mission of the Catholic Church in creating and building community life among our students, staff, and teachers. Daily Family time will allow the students, teachers, and staff to build relationships with one another. These daily meetings will foster communal experiences focused on fellowship and faith formation.

Not only will the Family System build community among our students, staff, and teachers, but also will help to build leadership skills in a very real and intentional way. The Family System offers multiple opportunities each year for students to hold leadership positions, and with mentoring from the Family Director, Family Deans, and House Mentors, the ability to grow in their leadership skills. This ability to identify and form students as leaders will help them in their lives after college in their vocation as leaders in a world that is in need of true servant leadership modeled after Christ.

A trimester class schedule will make daily Family time possible and also sustains STM’s strong academic tradition. With fewer and longer classes throughout the day, teachers and students are able to devote more time to the learning process and allow more in-depth analysis and immersion into the subject matter. This allows students to focus on fewer classes at one time, preparing them for a typical college schedule. Students and teachers will be able to focus on the learning process to build confidence. This confidence combined with a deeper understanding of the topic will lead to higher student achievement.

With a trimester schedule, STM will be able to offer more class electives. More and varied class offerings enhance STM’s holistic approach to Catholic Education, leading to well-rounded and balanced young men and women.

As STM looks toward the future, it is an exciting time and opportunity to be a light to the world through these new improvements. This school year, our teachers and staff will be working together to prepare for the changes with the class schedule and continued implementation of our Family System.  As a Catholic School, STM believes in the “both/and” of our Catholic Faith. We believe that both our Family System and our strong Academic Excellence is what makes us different from any other schools in the area.

St. Thomas More...Pray For Us!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A New School Year

The “Confessions” of St. Augustine is one of the many great Catholic literary works and could also be considered one of the great classics in literature of all time. St. Augustine writes  “Late have I loved thee, O beauty ever ancient, ever new.” This quote can summarize the “strength” of our Catholic Faith - ever ancient and ever new; always rested on the foundation of Faith of the Church, yet relevant and alive today.

This beauty of our Catholic Faith can also be applied to the High School of Saint Thomas More. As we approach the beginning of the 2018-19 school year - our 19th year - we have a sense of the ever ancient ever
newness of the school year. There are many traditions, classes, activities, sports, fine arts events, etc. that continue on every school year. However, even in these there is a sense of newness with every new school year as new students, leaders, plays, teams, etc. come together to work towards our common goal of forming our students intellectually, physically, morally, and spiritually. What is some of that newness that we look forward to at STM this year?

We welcome our newest Saber students and families from across the Champaign Vicariate who look to build upon the foundation of their Catholic Education they received in grade school in that K-12 Journey of Catholic Education. They look forward to meeting new classmates and teachers, being part of new teams and clubs, open to learning and meeting the various challenges that high school will present them with, and to continue their walk with Christ as His disciples.

We also welcome new Saber teachers and staff! Our teachers and staff are dedicated to our mission of Catholic Education at STM in assisting our Saber Families in the formation of their students to become the saints God made them to be. They truly go above and beyond in their service to our students in and out of the classroom. We welcome new teachers, coaches, and staff members including our new Chaplain Fr. Erik Bolek, School Counselor Mrs. Samantha Pope and Advancement Director Mr. Matthew Vander Vennet; our newest teachers Mrs. Megan Gosda (Social Studies), Ms. Audrey Vandercar (Science), Mr. Mason Manint (Music), Ms. Kate Collins (Academic Success), Ms. Katie Goryl (Theology), and Sr. Mary Francis (Math). We hope you can meet all of our newest STM Team Members at an STM event this year.

As we welcome those Freshman and New Sabers on August 16th to officially begin the new school year, we look forward to where the Holy Spirit is leading and guiding us to continue to live out our mission of Catholic Education. We can continue to pray and encourage one another to live out this mission and our faith - both of which are “ever ancient and ever new.”

St. Thomas More...Pray for us!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Reflecting on our Patron Saint @ STM for the 2018-19 School Year

In the month of June the Church celebrated the memorials of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, Martyrs for the Faith during the time of King Henry III in England as they gave up their lives as a testimony to the unity of the Church and sacredness of the Sacrament of Marriage. As we celebrate the life of our patron Saint at the High School of Saint Thomas More, it is a reminder to us all that we can become great saints by following our own conscience and living a life of faith even when it can be most difficult.

Thomas More was born in 1478 to a well to do family in London where he grew up receiving a quality education. More eventually went on to study at Oxford in 1492 where he would go on to become a lawyer, politician, author, and eventually Lord Chancellor of England in 1529. Thomas also was married with four children and later remarried after his first wife passed away. Throughout his life however, More was a man of God even discerning the religious life as a young man and living a life of prayer and penance. As a man of God however, it is his steadfast faith to follow his conscience that is an example for us.

After Thomas More was Chancellor of England, King Henry VIII divorced his wife, remarried, and eventually declared himself the Head of the Church of England. Thomas however, remained faithful to the Church and his conscience knowing the marriage to be unlawful and that the Pope was the true successor of Peter and leader of the Catholic Church. While many politicians, businessmen, bishops, and other prominent Englishman signed the “Act of Succession,” Thomas refused to, which led to him being locked in the Tower of London, charged with treason, and on July 6th, 1535 was beheaded.

There are many times in our days, lives, and world that we can easily “give in” to doing what is easy, taking a shortcut, giving into temptation, or doing something that is seen as “popular.” At school it can be easy to copy a classmates’ homework, write notes to use on an assessment, join the crowd in immoral actions, or back down from doing the right thing in following our conscience. As adults it can be easy to give in, to hide our faith in the workplace, to bypass our values and morals, or fall in our example of integrity and faith for our students and children. In our world they are those faced with persecution for their faith, pushed to the side in business and politics for following a moral law, and even losing their lives for following their conscience. So, when the situation we are faced with or the tough decision must be made how do we do it?

We can look to St. Thomas More for is his example of perseverance and prudence in following his conscience at a time when not many were in England. There are many Christians in our world today who live as an example of light amongst the darkness in giving up material goods and positions of powers, follow a moral law, etc. all because of their perseverance and keeping their eyes fixed on Christ who is our source of moral strength to
follow our conscience. Jesus promised his disciples that they would face persecution, but perseverance and prudence in the face of persecution will lead to true happiness.

In one of his general audiences, Pope Francis spoke about how “we now look to the saints, to “those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.” Although at times we may feel that we can’t be saints or that it is too difficult to be a saint in our world today, the saints remind us that a life of holiness is attainable. It is God who gives us the grace needed to live a life of faith and we can ask for the saints’ intercessions daily as they have paved that road of faith for us.

Let us ask for St. Thomas More’s intercession for our students and for ourselves to have the courage and perseverance in following our conscience to be prudent in making the right decision - especially decisions that may go against the crowd, may not be popular, or may be persecuted for, but to make that decision that helps us on our walk of Faith in life. May we always have the strength to say with St. Thomas More - “I am the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

St. Thomas More...Pray for us!

August Save the Dates!

  • 2nd STM Registration
  • 16th First Day of School for Freshman & New Students - Welcome to STM for new families
  • 17th 1st Full Day of Class and Fall Sports Kickoff

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Class of 2018 Graduation

The High School of Saint Thomas More held its Baccalaureate and Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 20th, at 2 pm for 70 students.  STM was honored to have the Knights of Columbus leading the procession.  Father Matthew Hoelscher served as celebrant and homilist with the area vicariate pastors concelebrating. Jake Sellet, Michael Lee and Abbey Horn received the St. Thomas More Awards, the highest award presented by the school.   In her Valedictorian/House Leader speech, Maddie Evangelisti advised her fellow classmates:  “Don’t hold back. Don’t be afraid. Put yourself out there. Use your strengths and abilities God’s given all of you.  Nothing can stop us because of the strong faith base and support system we have built up in our tiny Catholic school. As we exit the doors of STM, more doors will open. Our horizons will spread to Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Iowa, and so many other places, but we will always have each other and God to call our true home.”

Students were recognized at the annual Senior Honors Luncheon on Friday, May 18th. Salutatorian Michael Lee spoke about the importance of the Catholic Education he received because of the dedicated teachers and staff and also the support of his classmates. Faculty members presented departmental awards recognizing excellence in the various academic subjects, and seniors received recognition for numerous awards and scholarships related to academics and service.    

The 70 graduates completed over 12,100 service hours; 84% of them will attend a 4 year university with 16% attending a 2 year college.  The graduating seniors received over $5.7 million in merit and/or athletic scholarships.   Among the 70 graduates, one received a National Merit Scholar Commendation, Michael Lee, and 19 were named Illinois State Scholars.

Not only did we recognize our Class of 2018 graduates, but we also those Faculty and Staff who will be taking a new step in life after their years of service to STM. In a particular way we have been blessed by the presence of Mrs. Eleni Sofronis who has been the Latin teacher at STM since the school opened in 2000. Mrs. Sofronis has touched the lives of many students helping them to grow in their understanding and love of the Latin language, but most importantly by her witness of faith to inspire students to see how their faith impacts their whole lives. We also say goodbye to Mrs. Maria Tucker our long time Food Services Director. Mrs. Tucker poured all of her time and energy into the meals that she serves for our students at lunch, but also provided the many treats at various STM extra-curricular activities. We will definitely miss her tasty meals as she truly did all she had with great love for STM. Finally, we say wish the best of luck to our Chaplain Fr. Matthew Hoelscher. Fr. Hoelscher has served STM in his first four years of his priesthood as the STM Chaplain. He has been an encouraging presence for all of our students, staff, and teachers to know that God loves them and to invite them into the deep and intimate relationship with Christ that we are all called to. We wish Fr. Hoelscher the best of luck in his new assignment at Rock Island Alleman High School and welcome Fr. Eric Bolek to STM as our new Chaplain!

As with life, STM as a Catholic School continues to welcome and say goodbye to members of our STM Family. It is important for us to remember however that no matter what they are still members of our STM Family - whether they are students, families, teachers, staff, alumni, alumni donors, benefactors, etc. We pray and hope that all of our STM Family has a blessed and restful summer as we look toward the future and the continual new beginnings the Lord has in store for us. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

STM Family System and Strengthening our Catholic School

The High School of Saint Thomas More was been nominated for “the Catholic Teacher: Innovations in Catholic Education” for their Family House System. STM was nominated in the category of Catholic Identity (among Curriculum, Technology, and Fundraising). Principal Jason M. Schreder attended the award presentation reception on Wednesday April 4th, 2018 in Newport, Kentucky for all nominated schools. STM was recognized for the hard work and commitment by all the staff, teachers, and students who have been a part of the implementation process of the Family System. In part of that recognition, STM received a banner recognizing this effort of strengthening our Catholic Identity, which is now proudly displayed alongside our Blue Ribbon Academic Award Banner in the CafeChurchAtorium. It is very appropriate that these banners are side by side marking our excellence in academics, but also our continued growth in faith as a Catholic school in building our sense of family at STM.

At the High School of Saint Thomas More we have sought to strengthen our Catholic Identity through our Family System to bring that communal life of the Church into the school day at STM. Within the Family System, Students and Staff will have the opportunity to form relationships and friendships with those they may not have otherwise. All students -- freshman through seniors -- along with teacher mentors are part of a House that meets weekly for a time of faith, fellowship, fun, and food. Each students is part of a House led by student House Leaders along with a teacher House Mentor. A collection of four families make up one STM family - St. Peter, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and St. Michael the Archangel. Within the Family System, students and staff will have the opportunity to form relationships with those they may not have otherwise.  In our Family System, our House Mentors and Student Leaders will be the ones imitating true friendship and love to their fellow Sabers in the model of Christ.

As we build our Family System, this spirit of fellowship and community will continue to grow. We hope to be able to meet on a daily basis in the future and are planning and discussing ways to incorporate that into the school day. Our House Mentors will then be able to strengthen those relationships with their House students as well as the House Leaders to help their fellow housemates grow in faith, virtue, character, and academics, etc.

We strongly believe and hope that the Family System at STM will be a great benefit for our students in building those strong Christian relationships with one another that will strengthen their own relationship with Christ as we keep our Catholic Faith the center and focus of all we do at The High School of Saint Thomas More.