Monday, September 30, 2013

Coming Home


Come graduation day, Prep students are very familiar with the Greek theme of nostos (νόστος)It means a return home and is most famously depicted in Homer’s OdysseyWhen I graduated from the Prep in 2002, the President at the time, Fr. David Sauter, S.J., sent the graduating class a letter. It closed with the line, “come back often, for the Prep is your home.” I think those few words perfectly summarize the Prep experience. Whether from Jersey, Northeast Philly, or Montgomery County, the Prep is and forever will be our home away from home. This school prepares us to go out and set the world on fire, but every year it welcomes alumni back home.
Welcome home.

Reunion Weekend

This past Saturday, the Prep hosted the classes of 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, and 2008 for their reunion. Fittingly, the theme of the evening was A Taste of Philly complete with Campo’s cheesesteaks and hoagies, soft pretzels, Tastykakes, and Wawa iced tea. Over 350 Prep alumni came back to 17th & Girard to reconnect with old classmates, show off their beloved alma mater to wives and girlfriends, and mingle with their favorite teachers and administrators.

A Taste of Philly
In the shadow of the Gesu church - the only building familiar to every graduate since 1888 - it was a truly amazing sight to see so many people from different walks of life all together and united by one common thread: the Prep. At my own 10 year reunion last year, I ran into classmates I hadn't seen since graduation and it was as if nothing had changed. It was the kind of experience you have when spending time with family members after a long absence. I couldn't help but think about those sage words heard 10 years earlier:

Come back often, for the Prep is your home…   

This blog past was written by Mr. Kevin Gilbert '02, Associate Director of Annual Giving.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What is Ignite?

Freshman Retreat

Last weekend, the class of 2017 gathered on the roof of the Prep and began what is affectionately known as “IgNite” our overnight, mission-focused, Freshman Retreat. 248 freshmen, led by 60 upperclassmen, and supported by 20 peers gathered to explore and better understand the Prep way of life, in light of our Catholic, Jesuit identity. 

Rooftop Mass

To reflect on the importance of this retreat, is really to reflect on the hard work and dedication of our student leaders, as well as the reaction from the freshmen who participated.

For months leading up to these 27 hours, the student leaders (juniors and seniors) gathered to coordinate, plan, and pray for the freshman. In our first reflection as a group, we had our leaders write what they thought the mission of the retreat was. Here is an excerpt from their writing:

“The mission of the Freshman Retreat is to indoctrinate the Class of 2017 to the culture of the Prep.  We aim to build a sense of community, instill confidence, convey lessons of the Catholic-Ignatian way of life, create an environment where freshmen feel comfortable and where they belong. We want to develop a sense of brotherhood, make the Prep a home for them, help them grow in their faith, and give them the tools to be successful today and always.”

Our leaders gave up part of their summer and spent every day after school ordering and designing t-shirts, making a 30 piece puzzle, coordinating service sites, and inviting local priests to hear confessions (among other tasks) because they value and appreciate the role that the freshman retreat has (and had) in the life of the freshman class. This is one of the greatest testaments to the success and mission of “IgNite:” Prep brothers being there for each other.

In part, this retreat also showcases some of the Prep’s best assets: community, education, service and prayer. By setting aside time to welcome and encourage our freshmen, we show how willing we are to invest and advocate for these qualities as a way of life. Our small group discussions, presentations by students and professionals alike, service at 15 Catholic elementary schools, and 3.5 hours of Reconciliation are among some of the clearest examples of how this retreat takes these ideals and turns them into reality. 

To articulate this point, here are two excerpts written in thank you notes from members of the class of 2017:

“Thank you for creating a great retreat, and showing me that we are all brothers at this school. My favorite moment was seeing the kids smile as we helped them during our service trip.  Overall it was a great trip and was a lot of fun!” - CM ‘17 

“Thank you for a great retreat! It will be an experience I will never forget. I thought the prayer service with all the candles was a special experience. Thank you again! - RL ‘17 

At the end of the day, we hope that “IgNite” is a night learning about Ignatius and our Prep ideals, but even more than that, we aim to do as St. Ignatius of Loyola encouraged, “to set the world on fire!” By kindling a love of community and a love God in the hearts of our freshmen, we begin to reach them where they are and lead them into 4 years of reason, faith, and service.

This blog post was written by Mr. Jonathan Jerome, Director of Campus Ministry

Monday, September 23, 2013

What to expect on your visit to St. Joe's Prep

Shadow Days

Spending a day at St. Joe’s Prep is an experience like no other. The hum and energy of the school will surround you the minute you enter the lobby. Students are eating breakfast, printing a paper, studying Latin vocabulary, checking Facebook, meeting a study group, discussing the upcoming fall drama, The Laramie Project, meeting a teacher, or catching up with a friend. We have earned the reputation of AM/PM Prep – whether you arrive at 7:00 a.m. or 7:00 p.m. you will find students, teachers, coaches and administrators working together on academics or extracurricular activities - all for the greater glory of God.   

Does this sound like the school for you? Then sign up to spend a day at the Prep. When you fill out the online form be sure to give us as much information as possible. Do you know a current freshman you would like to visit with? Let us know his name. Would you love to see a Biology lab or visit with a freshman football player? Put that information into the “Special Interests” section. We take all the information you provide and pair you with a current freshman who matches the profile you requested. Once you fill out the online form you will receive a confirmation email and all you have left to do is count down the days until you are here.

Your day will begin at 8:00 a.m. in the Admission Office, when Mrs. McKenna will match you up with your student host and give you your free lunch ticket – a hallmark of a shadow visit is enjoying a complimentary lunch in our cafeteria. Your schedule will vary, based upon your interests and your host’s schedule – but you can expect something similar to this:

4th period lunch!

Throughout the day you will see what it is like to be a student at St. Joe’s Prep –class discussions, vocabulary drills, a quiz or two, lunchtime conversation, and changing classes from one side of the building to the next (in under 5 minutes!). At the end of your day you will return to the Admission Office. There, you will have the opportunity to talk with your fellow 8th grade visitors and the Admission Office team. 
At 2:45 your day will end. Whether you are picked up by a parent, taking the Regional Rail home, or carpooling with other students you will come to know that transportation is just another part of the Prep experience. 

We welcomed our first 8th grade visitors today – and look forward to welcoming prospective students until December 13. See you soon!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mass of the Holy Spirit

Veni Sancte Spiritus

As the Jesuit high school of Philadelphia, St. Joe's Prep is unique. Unless a family is willing to commute to Scranton, Jersey City, or D.C., St. Joe's offers the only Jesuit secondary education in the area. But we are connected to the many Jesuit high schools in the States, and throughout the world. Like all Jesuit schools, we mark the beginning of each academic year with the celebration of the Mass of the Holy Spirit, an opportunity, as one Jesuit college puts it, "to welcome the grace of a greater being into our hearts".

Mass of the Holy Spirit 2013

Global Citizens

St. Joe's Prep students are connected to this national and international network of Jesuit schools and as graduates will forever be branded as persons of quality. Although we ask much of our students and pride ourselves on teaching self-reliance, our students recognize - and today's mass affirms - that they are not alone. Through the Holy Spirit, our students receive the comfort and confidence to face not only the challenges of today, but also of tomorrow. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Back @ the Prep

Mr. Scannapieco '09

The Brothers Scannapieco: Mike '09, Matt '03, Pat '09

Hey everyone, I’m Mr. Mike Scannapieco '09 and I’m back at the Prep this year in the Alumni Service Corps working in the Admissions Office. My first memories of wanting to go to the Prep were the football games I went to when my older brother (Matt '03) was at the Prep. I watched guys like Kyle Ambrogi and Pat Kaiser win championships and break city records. They were like superheroes to me. I remember going to my brother’s crew regattas and watching the 2000 Varsity 8 roar down the river. My mom told me that summer that they went on to win at Henley. “What does that mean?” I asked. “It means they’re the best high school boat in the world.” I was hooked.

I wanted to come back for ASC because after my four years here, the Prep meant a lot more to me than just sports and championships. I made lifelong friends. I was inspired by teachers, some of them even Alumni Service Corps guys. I genuinely felt like I was a part of something- call it a family, or a brotherhood, whatever you want -but it’s here and it’s palpable. I can see it in the upperclassmen in the halls and I can see it forming in the freshman when I’m at football practice or in the cafeteria. I came back because I wanted to be in that atmosphere again.

My most memorable class at the Prep was Film & Lit my senior year with Mr. Patragnoni. I had always enjoyed movies and it sounded better than taking a class on Shakespeare. I figured we would read a few books, watch some well-known movies, and write papers on them. But Mr. Patragnoni encouraged us to go to the Philadelphia Film Festival and see a whole new range of films there, he had us read and watch The Diving Bell & the Butterfly, a French memoir and film that I never would've read or seen otherwise (I highly recommend it), and he had us produce our own short film. The next four years I studied Film at TempleUniversity, all because I found what I loved at St. Joe’s Prep.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Why Test?


Why do we ask our applicants to take an entrance exam? The simple answer is consistency. The Prep's student body represents over 200 different grammar schools - parochial, public, charter, independent, and home schools - from the Delaware Valley. The entrance exam allows us to take an identical snapshot of each applicant, and then compare. 

Bathroom break?

As much as this exam helps the Prep's admission office, it helps the applicants too. The experience of sitting for an entrance exam - although grueling - gives students an idea of the type of grit and endurance they'll need to succeed at a school like the Prep.

Test Prep

For students looking for some extra help in preparing for the Prep's (or other schools') entrance exam, there is still space left in our test-prep program. Find out about Pre-Prep today. Click here to register. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Welcome Back!

Day 1

Yesterday at the Prep, we welcomed back our returning students, and embraced our first year guys. Day 1 of a new school year can seem overwhelming for anyone - especially first-year folks, but our upperclassmen take pride in making new students feel welcome.

To catch a glimpse of what yesterday was all about, take a look:

Can you see yourself here? Do you want to be a part of the brotherhood? 

I think we're gonna be friends

Apply now by clicking here - and then schedule a visit by clicking here so that you can experience what makes St. Joe's Prep so special.