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Image of a middle school student entering Saint Thomas Academy
David Jacobson

With all the renown Saint Thomas Academy has achieved for its academic rigor, you might think being admitted requires a spotless elementary school record. Think again.

Think about Abe Walther, a sixth-grader, whose marks -- and, more importantly, whose motivation -- have skyrocketed this year. His parents, Ryan and Jenny Walther, took a chance on investing in the Academy as a way of investing in Abe, and it is paying off.

As Abe was finishing elementary school, “he was overwhelmed,” Jenny said. “I can’t say enough about the change I’ve seen in this kid. He wants to do well. He enjoys school now, and he sees a pathway to success.”

The Walthers believe Saint Thomas Academy offers an environment well-suited to Abe’s learning style. “The extra attention Abe gets has helped,” Ryan said. “Boys, especially, get bored. But we have some dear friends whose sons attend the Academy, and seeing how they teach boys there, and seeing the smaller class sizes, we took a leap of faith, and we’ve seen a transformation.

“Abe loves school. He’s up at 6:15, putting his tie on. He’s learning. He’s doing his homework, and we’re not fighting him about it. He’s more positive, and he’s more confident. I had a buddy who went there, and he was right when he said that Saint Thomas Academy has a culture of positive peer pressure.”

Added Jenny: “My child is happy, motivated, earnest, and wants to do well. He’s learning. This is the best thing we’ve ever done for him.”

Both parents attended Cretin-Derham Hall, so it was not automatic that Abe attend the Academy. However, Jenny said, “Abe went to visit Saint Thomas on a whim, and he absolutely loved it. He begged me to go there. I hemmed and hawed and eventually decided we’d regret it if we didn’t give it a try.”

Abe is thrilled with that decision. “Middle school seems more important,” he said, “and I wanted to get off to a good start. I like it. I like how it’s all boys, and my teachers explain things well.” 

An image of Saint Thomas Academy Middle School students at their Formation time

Abe plans to play baseball and football. He most enjoys his classes in history and English – having just finished City of Ember and earlier Where the Red Fern Grows. “My science class is hard,” he said. “I work harder in that class and focus on it more, and I went in for help. Mrs. Clausen explained it very well.”

The school’s academic structure has been key to Abe’s adjustment, Jenny said. “We’ve liked the class size, the block scheduling – fewer, longer classes per day, which helps stuff really sink in. He works with an academic specialist, Katie Schultz, in his study hall, and he loves it because he pounds out his work.”

Abe said he averages about 45 minutes of homework per night because he gets so much done in flex.

“Abe also likes the all-boys aspect,” Jenny said. “The removal of the social angst that goes with kids who are developing in a co-ed environment opens up a whole new category of life for them.”

The transformation the Walthers are experiencing is embodied in a single remark from Abe that Jenny appreciated. “I was so struck by him saying about a project that ‘It was really hard, but it was really fun.’ He’s meeting challenges. He used to be such an ‘I can’t’ kid. But he’s learning that you can work through things. That gives kids a pathway to success.”