A Mid Summer Note

St John Academy

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The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.

~ Albert Einstein

Mid Summer Greetings

July 16, 2019

Dear Parents and Friends,

I hope this note finds you enjoying summer with your family—finding (or at least planning) ways for meaningful recreation.

There is much life happening at St. John’s and I wanted to take a time out to share a list of varied updates and insights.

Attached at the bottom of the flyer, you’ll find a general calendar for the 2019/20 academic year. There are a few things of special note. You’ll find a few days marked as “home project days”, such as the first days of school: August 26 and 27. These days for grades K – 8 are set aside for doing projects at home—there are no classes on campus those days. The August “project days” are set aside to finish and polish all summer assignments including being prepared to recite the poems noted for memorization. The first school day on campus is on August 28.

You will also find days marked as “House Days”. The four colors that competed (so nobly and fiercely) at the end of the year will transform into four houses, replete with their own colors and coat of arms. Competitions will include poetry recitals, games, short dramatic plays...and all sorts of things. Two major feast days—All Saints and the Annunciation—are set aside for special competitions and celebrations. There is more to unfold with the Houses!

Efforts continue with improving our physical campus—inside and out—as well as with reviewing and improving our curriculum and text books. This summer we are focusing on the history program and weaving more poetry, public speaking and drama into our literature program. We are making final touches with history, and we will be drawing from a few sources for textbooks and readers, including TAN’s series Story of Civilization, the Catholic Textbook Project, and various readers and books by Memoria Press. All of these books and readers have common strengths and threads that weave through them: the use of stories and a narrative style, and the use of primary resources to enhance understanding the context. Other resources will also be added to the history program.

But, far more important than textbooks and physical improvements are people!

Our admissions team continues to handle a steady stream of new candidates—we have numerous great new families and students joining our community. We are about to close admissions for the 2nd and 4th grades, and we are exploring ways to expand our preschool program, as we have reached capacity.

We are very grateful and excited for these new students and families and for the new teachers and staff joining us next year.

Christine White will be helping with the website and communications and serve as registrar. Mary Aquino will bring her many talents, including with art, into the classrooms and will be serving as a full-time aide.

Austin Hatch will be joining us to teach 8th grade literature. He has been helping with curriculum review and schedules at St. John’s these past two summers, served as Assistant Headmaster with me at Western Academy, and leads the prestigious Jackson Scholars program at The Heights School. He is an extremely gifted and effective history and literature teacher. (Kathleen O’Bierne—another excellent teacher—will be teaching 7th grade literature).

Another old friend and remarkable teacher from The Heights will be joining us throughout the year: Eric Heil. He will serve as a consultant and resource for our natural history program. (You can find podcasts featuring Austin and Eric down below.)

Brian O’Neill, a recent graduate from the University of Dallas, is an athlete, outdoorsman and naturalist, and an avid reader of history. (He has the makings of a renaissance man—a theme you will see carries through this note). He will join us primarily as a 6th grade teacher and will help teach natural history in the lower grades. (You may have met Brian at the end of the year, as he was one of the souls designing and building the gardens around the middle school classrooms).

Dan Roche, currently directing the Broadway play Amazing Grace at the Bible Museum in D.C., will join us. He will build up our drama and creative writing programs, and he will teach language arts and history in our middle school. He will also help with some of our larger outreach endeavors, such as a community theatre—stay tuned for more happenings there. Dan studied film, theatre, directing and acting at Syracuse University and has vast talent and experience in the world of film and theatre. Some of his broad artistic endeavors include producing plays featuring works of C.S. Lewis and O’ Henry’s The Gift of the Magi.

David Murray will teach in our music, math, and natural history programs. He is a renowned jazz drummer—perhaps you heard him play at the Spring Dream or at our other jazz events during the year. He currently teaches at Georgetown University and is part of the musical team for theatrical productions at Signature Theatre—such as Blackbeard. Dave will also help with some of our larger outreach events featuring jazz and plays.

John Lamirande—an illustrator and author, outdoorsman and runner, and skilled in a variety of things (including tree climbing)—attended St. Vincent Pallotti High School and studied art and design at Towson State University. He will serve as our primary art teacher and will also teach science and other classes. He recently taught middle and upper school science and art at Front Royal Christian School. You can see some of his art below.

Will Thompson will also join our art and natural history efforts—often joining the two. Another renaissance type—naturalist, outdoorsman and quite an original artist—he burns his drawings into wood! He will join us part time throughout the year, and will help with other craft projects. You can see Will and some of his wild art below.

That’s it for now.

Enjoy your summer!


Jeffrey P. Presberg


Saint John the Beloved Academy

future happenings

Ice Cream Socials

Wednesday, August 21: Pre-Kindergarten - 3rd Grades, 4:30-6:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 22: 4th - 8th Grades, 4:30-6:00 p.m.

First Days of School

August 26, 27: Home Project Days

August 28: First Day on Campus, grades K - 8

Golf Tourney

The Scannell Cup will take place on September 6, 2019. Part of the proceeds benefit scholarships for Saint John Academy. See the link below to support this fun event.

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"Memory"... by John Lamirande

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... a new take on an old tale

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Dan Roche...ready to open Amazing Grace

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A Chicago play: The Gift of the Magi

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Will Thompson amid some of his makings

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A Musings

The Dragonfly


You are made of almost nothing
But of enough
To be great eyes
And diaphanous double vans;
To be ceaseless movement,
Unending hunger
Grappling love.

Link between water and air,
Earth repels you.
Light touches you only to shift into iridescence
Upon your body and wings.

Twice-born, predator,
You split into the heat.
Swift beyond calculation or capture
You dart into the shadow
Which consumes you.

You rocket into the day.
But at last, when the wind flattens the grasses,
For you, the design and purpose stop.

And you fall
With the other husks of summer.

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As Kingfishers Catch Fire


As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;

As tumbled over rim in roundy wells

Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's

Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;

Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:

Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;

Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,

Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;

Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;

Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —

Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,

Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his

To the Father through the features of men's faces.

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Top Painting: A Landscape Study at San Vigilio Lake of Garda by J.S. Sargent

Middle painting: Jesus Walking on the Water by Henry O. Tanner