February 28, 2023

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A Note From Fr. Chris


In December, you were provided with the opportunity to participate in a satisfaction survey. I appreciate the time you took to provide authentic responses, as you are a valued and integral part of our school’s continued success. Our school has undergone significant transitions within the past year, and I genuinely appreciate your continued feedback, support, and prayers.

Our school board and administration met in mid-January to view and discuss the survey results. Within the Spring semester you will begin witnessing the implementation of many of your recommendations. Activities that illuminate our Catholic faith will become more prominent; Mr. Matthew Yowell will be revamping of our school’s building committee; and there will be a comprehensive newsletter sent out on a more regular basis.

We will continually strive to make improvements at our school. Thank you for your assistance, as well as your patience as we navigate the roads ahead.

Peace in Christ,

Father Chris Downey

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I would like to thank all of our sponsors, volunteers, and community for coming out and enjoying the Casino night! The event was very fun and also allowed me to highlight my main focuses for the school:

  1. Increasing our Catholic identity. Catholic Identity is my first and foremost concern with our school. We must embody a strong Catholic culture in all that we do, especially the spiritual development of our students. Our staff and faculty must foster this culture as a cohesive team. We will come together as a team regularly for spiritual and professional growth. We will coordinate and participate in team-building exercises together to grow as a team. Also, as part of this effort, we must equip our staff and faculty with continued faith formation and professional development. We will reinvigorate the tradition of classical education at our school throughout the curriculum and with our partnerships. Our students' hearts will be enflamed with wonder and love as they are taught by classically-trained Gospel witnesses, our teachers.
  2. Building the community. We will inspire parents, the primary educators, to partner with us in our efforts to form each student as a child of God. We aim to effectively communicate with parents and assist them in a continued educational experience within and without each child's home or "domestic church." As our school grows, we ask the Holy Spirit to use us as a beacon of light that supports the needs of the community and to execute the school's mission that our community supports!

School Choice

Speaking of support, please consider attending our School Choice event on Monday, March 6th at 6:45-8pm in the PAC (see flyer below). Representatives from TCCB will be here to discuss this important matter. Please spread the word so we can PAC the house!

Season of Lent

Our school community prepared for the Lenten season in traditional fashion with a beautiful Shrove Tuesday rite, burning last year's palms. The ashes of these palms were placed on our heads during Ash Wednesday mass to allow us to contemplate on our end. During Lent, we renew our efforts and build upon the spiritual "pillars" of the Christian life: prayers that we offer, the fasting and taming of the flesh, and the alms (charity) that we give before we return to dust. Our Lord provided the example for this in His own 40 days in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). I challenge each of our students, parents, staff and faculty to make your own walk through the desert a fruitful one as we strive to follow Christ's example.

May God bless our school and may St Joseph intercede for us!

Ite ad Ioseph

Anthony 'Tony' Henely

Incoming Headmaster

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Current families should have been sent a reenrollment link for the upcoming 2023-2023 academic year. A tuition and fee schedule may be found here. For any questions about reenrollment, please contact Christina in the Business Office christina.constant@sjc-academy.org.
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The ACE Scholarship application will open on February 6, 2023, and close April 18, 2023, at 11:59 PM EST. Click here to apply!

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Click here for details. Scholarships are available through March 31.

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IBO Tournament

On Saturday, February 28th, the SJCA Archery Team hosted their 2nd Annual IBO 3D Tournament. We are thankful to Coach RaeAnn Melvin and the Nolanville Elementary archery team for attending and participating. Archers were educated on the differences of 10/15 Bullseye and IBO 3D ranges, procedures and scoring to prepare to for the upcoming state competition on March 23rd and 24th.

We're so grateful for Lindsey Souza-Kelley from Napua Photography LLC for sharing her photography skills with us during our IBO Tournament. Click here to see the full gallery.

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For information pertaining to Athletics, please contact Coach Shook at Will.Shook@sjc-academy.org.
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For any information pertaining to Booster events, please contact Sarah Yowell at boosters@sjc-academy.org.
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Palms to Ashes Rite!

On Shrove Tuesday, families of the SJCA brought in their palm fronds to be used for the Palms to Ashes Service held at 4PM in our school's courtyard. Fr. Chris, Deacon Jesse, and Seminarian Scott led the service. A huge thank you to the Yowell family for providing the fire pit, Mrs. Debby Pedroza for leading us in song, and Mrs. Mary Garcia for assisting with palm collection and documenting our event.

A Prayer for Ash Wednesday

Merciful God,

you called us forth from the dust of the earth; you claimed us for Christ in the waters of baptism. Look upon us as we enter these Forty Days bearing the mark of ashes, and bless the journey through the desert of Lent to the font of rebirth. As we remember our mortality and seek penitence today, we know you to be a God who is rich in forgiveness and abounding in steadfast love, love that culminates in eternal life with you. Guide our steps this Lent, so that we might find greater fulfillment in your promises and better serve others with a heart that’s reflective of you.


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Pictures submitted by Mary Garcia.
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A Special Thank You to Our Academy Family!

Leah McGee, SJCA Board Member and Parent, helped to coordinate the Casino Night in February. In under two months, she was able to build and lead an incredible team to success. Below is a letter from Mrs. McGee:

Thank you to absolutely everyone that assisted in donating your time and talents toward making our Casino Night an absolute success! Every prize donation and volunteer hour worked was crucial, and so gratefully appreciated! I do feel the need to point out a few families that can be classified as event angels:

Janie Freed, Jason Freed, their children and even grandchildren helped organize, solicit, purchase, clean, fix, cook, serve and clean some more! They have so many skills. They gave their family time to us and we’re so grateful!

Adonna, Dennis, Isis, and baby Ford showed up and stayed when a few event staff dropped out. They made the banquet room look beautiful and served with ease and total positivity all night long!

Many thanks to Aurea Ruple Bailey, her family, and Dr. Priscilla Mumphrey for organizing a fun, safe party for kids that we renamed “babysitting.” Aurea and Dr. Mumphrey made it look easy-even thought we know it was not.

Mary Garcia and family lead a team that ensured the entrance and decorations look like a million bucks. We're so grateful to both Mary and Ms. Michelle DeJesus for running the registration for the entire evening!

Edith B., owner of Vera Creations, donated the selfie station and entrance arch. She spent the morning helping us set up.

DJ Cassell (yes, our Mr. Cassell) and his son nailed the music and AV. We are so thankful for the donation of your time and talents.

Lastly, we would like to say a special thank you to a student MVP. Levi Sullivan and his mom, Eleanore, were on the set-up committee. Levi took it upon himself to sweep and mop the gym, as well as make sure the bathrooms were just right. His initiative and extra attention to detail had the gym sparkling and smelling amazing!

Article submitted by Leah McGee. Pictures submitted by Mary Garcia.

A Night to Remember!

The Casino night went off without a hitch! The event provided our incoming headmaster, Mr. Tony Henely, to introduce the school's present Board Members, and address the crowd! Tony is excited to begin his journey at St. Joseph Catholic Academy noting two main focuses (highlighted above in "Headmaster's Desk"):

  1. Increasing our Catholic identity
  2. Building a sense of community within the school, as well as externally.

May God bless our school as we grow in His name!

Photos submitted by Mary Garcia.

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Why is it called 'Classical'?

Remember when Coca-Cola came out with their new formula in an effort to remain competitive with the diet sodas that were being introduced to the market? It failed. Within 3 months of the change, Coca-Cola went back to their original formula and rebranded it 'classic' coke.

Classical education has a similar storyline! As a matter of fact, the word Classical is Latin for calssicus, which means relating to the (highest) classes of the Roman people. In 600 B.C., it was the education imparted upon upper-classmen in order to prepare them for leadership roles. Until the early 1900s, children living in the western world who were privileged enough to receive an education received a classical one.

As the industrial revolution took hold in America, a philosopher by the name of John Dewey proposed that children should learn using a 'hands-on approach' and that education should be relevant to their lives. He believed that studying ancient minds was outdated and irrelevant, and children should learn about the present in order to impact the future. The Dewey Educational approach became rooted in 1910 and was the modern form of education throughout the United States by the 1940s.

Classical education never completely diminished. Yet, it was not until the mid-1990s, when a few Catholic Schools concluded that this concept of a 'modern' education system was failing. Rote memorization of sight words and math facts, with a lack of emphasis on science, history, and geography were graduating students without a solid foundation or the ability to reason for oneself. The ultimate burden for Catholic institutions was that our religion now needed to be infused into a curriculum void of Christ.

Just as Classic Coke made a comeback, so did the classical model of education. This education model that was established during the times of Plato and Aristotle in 600 B.C., matured through the Middle Ages, and continued as the predominant form of education for America's Founders, began reemerging!

Why? It's simple! Classical education is a conscious return to the ancient goal of education: teaching children to think and learn for themselves by imparting to them the tools of learning. It prepares people to live in freedom and independence, engaging them in the highest matters and the deepest questions of truth, justice, virtue, and beauty. Ultimately, it allows students to discover for themselves that which is true and beautiful.

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Tuesday, Feb. 28th, we will be celebrating Read Across America. Elementary students are invited to come to school in their school appropriate pajamas. Middle and High School must wear their full uniform due to their attendance at a presentation. We are excited to cozy up with a good book and celebrate reading and literacy!

Submitted by our librarian, Mrs. Debby Pedroza.

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The 9th graders at the SJCA are providing K-8th graders with the opportunity to participate in the Science Fair on March 9! The deadline to enter is March 3, 2023. Please take a moment to read over the information provided within their flier. You may click HERE or use the QR code on the flier to sign-up your child!

Submitted by Montserrat Hernandez on behalf of the 9th Grade class.

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Celebrating Engineer Week with Charlie Company, 3-393 BEB

Engineer Week began February 17 and concluded on February 24 this year. The Soldiers of Charlie Company, 3-393 BEB came ready to provide an incredible classical experience for all of our students! Elementary students learned about stability and weight distribution during a cup-stacking event. They went on to create their own butterflies using paper, a toothpick, and pennies for balancing.

Middle and High School students were provided with weight distribution and wind resistant challenges. For weight distribution, students had to build a tension bridge between two tables with popsicle sticks, binder clips, and tape. Using water bottles as weights, teams determined how much each could hold before buckling. Next, teams worked together to build wind-resistant structures using paper, tape, and a single 2" washer. A fan was used to determine how well each structure held up against the wind.

We would like to thank CPT Kiernan Lindsay and LTC Joshua Sturgill for coordinating this event. Additionally, we would like to thank the following individuals for assisting with this event: SFC Neigal Cox, SFC Nathan Harned, SFC LeaDrean Jordan, SFC Andrew Moore, SFC Jullian Smith, SFC Jacob Stevens, SFC Aaron Thomson, SFC Colby Zickel, SSG Kossi Amenunya, SSG Juan Cantu, SSG Adrian Carrillo, SSG Aaron Dent, SSG Anthony Fredericks, SSG Terrell Keeble, SSG Jared Miller, SSG Hector Velez

Thank You Freedom Urgent Care!

On Thursday, February 23, Freedom Urgent Care set-up a station inside the PAC from 4-6PM. Basic exams to check student's health and physical conditions were provided to our athletes participating in the Spring 2023 season, all at no cost!

Jay and Annmarie McKenna are owner-operators and Dr. Jay McKenna is an active physician of the clinics located in the Killeen/Harker Heights area. We are grateful for their support!

Pictures submitted by Sarah Yowell.

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Left: Johannes Pedroza receives a physical provided by Freedom Urgent Care.

Right: Dr. Jay McKenna assisted with orchestrating this wonderful event. We thank the McKenna family!

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Welcome Jerry Sanchez!

We warmly welcome our new Bus Driver, Mr. Jerry Sanchez! Mr. Sanchez proudly proclaims his Puerto Rican heritage. He is married to his beautiful wife who you may witness singing with the St. Joseph church choir. Together, they have 4 sons and 4 grandchildren.

Mr. Sanchez served 20 years in the Army's Military Intelligence as an Electronics Engineer. Upon retirement from the Army, he spent the next 11 years working for the Department of Defense as an engineering contractor. Mr. Sanchez has been stationed in both Iraq and Afghanistan and directly supported the Iraqi Freedom Campaign.

We are grateful for his service to our nation, as well as to our school!

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Upcoming Events

Click here to view our school calendar!


  • 3/1: 10AM St. Thomas Aquinas Mass @ St. Louis Catholic Church (2001 N 25th St Waco)
  • 3/2 & 3/3: NO SCHOOL
    Parent Teacher Conferences & Tiger Closet Spring Sale (50% off all items)!
  • 3/6: Parental Choice Night with the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops
  • 3/9: Campus-Wide Science Fair
  • 3/10: Start of Spring Break (Early Out)
  • 3/13-3/20: Spring Break
  • 3/21: 4th Quarter Begins
  • 3/21: 9th/10th Grade College Tour: St. Edwards University (Austin, TX)
  • 3/22-3/23: Archery NASP Tournament
  • 3/29: St. Mary's 8th grade Shadow Day
  • 3/30: High School Information Night
  • 4/4: 7th Grade Field Trip to the Chocolate Factory (Bryan, TX)
  • 4/5: Start of Easter Break (Early Out)
  • 4/6-4/10: Easter Break
  • 4/17-4/28: NWEA Testing
  • 4/21: 9th/10th Grade: Sea World-Biology Day Event (San Antonio, TX)
  • 5/2: NJHS and NHS Induction Ceremony 6:30 PM
  • 5/8-5/12: Teacher Appreciation Week
  • 5/8-5/12: Book Fair Week
  • 5/17: 9th/10th Grade College Tour: SMU (Dallas, TX)
  • 5/25: Last Day of School (Early Out)


We would like to welcome everyone to join us for the St. Thomas Aquinas Mass, a Mass to recognize 4 of our distinguished 8th grade students. This special Mass with Bishop Vasquez will occur at 10AM on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, at St. Louis Catholic Church (2001 N 25th Street, Waco, TX). Four of our students will be recognized for their academic success, leadership in our school, and service in our community.
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March Breakfast & Lunch Menus

Check out this month's breakfast and lunch menu, catered by Chef Josie and her team from Let's Eat Texas!

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Spirit Snacks: March 10

To sign-up as a volunteer, please click here!

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About Us:

St. Joseph Catholic Academy (SJCA), established in 1955, is a classical educational school teaching students about truth, beauty and goodness by critically thinking about the world around them. This approach to education is both ancient and new as we are utilizing time-tested methods from our Catholic Tradition and applying them to the contemporary world. With much of the cultural landscape shifting beneath our feet, we believe it is important that students are taught how to think about both the changing world as well as the timeless and unchangeable truths both discoverable in nature and through God’s revelation.

Ms. L. Monica Alvarez

Interim Headmaster


Dr. Priscilla Mumphrey

Interim Assistant Headmaster

Student/Teacher Relations


Dr. Lora Van Arsdell

School Counselor


Mrs. Mary Garcia

Director of Relations


Newsletter Submissions may be sent to volunteering@sjc-academy.org.

All articles will be reviewed by the Headmaster prior to publication.

Compiled by Stephanie Long