For many students, starting at a new school is not easy. For students just starting at Saint Thomas Academy – one of the most prestigious, rigorous, challenging schools – it may be downright daunting.
Along with unfamiliar surroundings and social standards that are part of entering any new school, many new Cadets also may find themselves adjusting to the all-male student body, the school’s tenets of military leadership and Catholicism, and higher academic expectations.
But all of the dozens of staff and faculty at Saint Thomas Academy are committed to students’ success and fulfillment. Following are some of their suggestions for, touching on several key topics.
There are only so many ways to say the same thing, but this one piece of advice is so central that we’ll let a few teachers say it every way possible.
“If you need assistance, always ask!” said Anne McQuillan, Facilities Manager, “There was a student who didn't know for the first week where the restroom was and was afraid to ask. Please ask!”
Added Bill McCarthy, Health and Physical Education Department Chair: “If you don’t know something or are unsure, ask a question. Ask a classmate, upperclassmen or teacher. Everyone has been in your shoes. We are all willing to help. We are all on the same team.”
And, as Katie Doran, Middle School Assistant, explains: “Never be afraid to ask questions! Faculty and staff love helping new students!”
Take advantage of the awesome extracurricular activities offered at Saint Thomas Academy.
“Get involved in sports and other activities right away,” suggested Doug Hoverson, who chairs the social studies departments, teaches history and government, and coaches several teams. “Don't ‘wait until the academic piece is under control.’ Co-curricular activities make it easier to adjust to the classwork, not harder. You meet more adults in the building who can help you navigate the school and find potential friends that have interests in common.”
Added Luke Marks, English Teacher and Varsity Football Assistant Coach: “Throw yourself into the Academy! Get involved in as much as you can early in the school year. School ends at 3:05 p.m., but relationships with teachers, coaches, and your classmates are often formed at after-school activities.”
Be a Brother
The brotherhood of Cadets may be your single greatest takeaway from the Academy. Make sure you are a part of the brotherhood, and that the brotherhood is part of you.
“Be yourself,” said Rick Stevson, Director of Inclusion and Outreach and Associate Director of Admissions. “Don't try to impress. Be true to yourself, your friends, and everyone around you. That will make this wonderful experience that much greater!”
Added Justin Matelski, Theology Teacher: “Keep off your phone. Before or after school it helps to pass time, but when you are around other people it prevents you from meeting new friends!”
How a Lot of Little Things Add Up to Big Things
Detail orientation and organization are key to success, McCarthy said. “Be on time. It is OK to be a bit early, as well. Write things down. Using a central planner/notebook may help you stay organized. Using an electronic organizer can work, as well. Be responsible. Take care of your belongings. Lock your locker. Clean up after yourself in the cafeteria. Write your name on your personal items, and know where, when and how to store things.”
Those few little clues – common-sense tips that are easily executable – form the foundation for big-time success. Here are our last several big-picture thoughts to help new students thrive.
“Remember Saint Thomas Academy is ready for you succeed!”—Jodie Whaley, director of events and stewardship.
“Stay positive and patient with yourself. God has a plan of joy and hope for your future. Trust Him”—Katie Doran.
“Nobody's perfect. Own your mistakes. Learn from them! Strive to be your best every single day. Do not lie, cheat, or steal!”—Col. Neil Hetherington, Commandant.
“There is no substitute for hard work.”—Jamie Jurkovich.
- cadet clips