by Amy Steppig

I believe it was 2008, not long after the Confirmation of my oldest child and right after the Baptism of the child who would prove to be my last, when I sat down to map out the “Sacramental Calendar” of my seven children.  I wondered how I would manage to keep on track of all the First Communions and Confirmations yet to come, especially since we were homeschooling. Last summer I stumbled upon this old list posted in a corner of the kitchen as we embarked upon our “lock down” home renovation project.  I was reminded that, God willing, 2021 would bring that list and the “Sacramental Initiation” of my children to a close.  Miraculously, my youngest child was confirmed in April 2021 in a cathedral (half) filled with people.  Thus, one of the greatest responsibilities of my motherly mission has been fulfilled.

A few short months after my original list was made, a small group of people initiated the idea of a Catholic, hybrid model school in St. Louis.  The main campus, now located in St. Charles, boasts an ever-increasing enrollment.  Who could have predicted that the model would have us so well prepared to endure a global pandemic! And last year, facing obvious obstacles, we were still inspired to begin an additional location to serve the families of South County and the surrounding area. Almost everyone has now experienced a taste of homeschooling or hybrid learning.  We have been at it for over a decade and have found a way to provide excellence in education while forming our children in the faith and keeping them connected to the heart of our homes.  Despite facing restrictions and the possibility of some form of lock down, the idea of continuing our South County plan seemed beyond reach, much like my long list of sacramental dates.  Yet we have persevered in our initial year – successful and eager to expand and grow.

The first step is often the hardest.  I think of my ONE Catholic grandparent and her Catholic line that traces back to my first Catholic ancestor to set foot on the shores of North America.  She was determined that her children would be raised in the faith despite tremendous odds.  Their initiation has led to where I am today – with my grown Catholic family ready for the next generation.

Are you being called to initiate your family into hybrid education?

-Mrs. Steppig

Celebration Post: End of Our First Year!

Dear Friends and Families of St. John Paul II South Campus,
We did it! Our first year of hybrid, classical, Catholic education in South County. This email is long – so here are its sections! 1.Accomplishments 2. Looking Ahead 3. Thank Yous

1.Accomplishments There should be more hybrid education in the world! Our model promotes personal responsibility and family involvement as well as community support and Faith. Our students have grown in time management skills at home and friendship at school, our families have grown by maintaining time together, our teachers have grown by adapting to help each student become the best they can be.

One of the big accomplishments of the year was the establishment of the South Campus House System and the victory of St. Martin of Tours House. Congratulations to them! We had academic competitions for As, mathletics, logic games, a Great Easter Bake Off, and two minute skits.

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Public Speaking students ended the year braving the stage with the immortal words of Henry Clay, MLK, and Alexander the Great, among others.
Not only did the high school read, but they even memorized powerful portions of Beowulf, The Divine Comedy, The Canterbury Tales, Macbeth for Medieval Literature. Even though they believe Mr. Colston is a mysterious spiritual being, they don’t doubt his out-of-this-world knowledge of humanistic learning.

Are you tired of your students arguing with you? Well, at JPII we up the ante with courses in Logic and Rhetoric, even Church History featured the students taking sides in Thomistic arguments on questions like, whether God is the first thing known by the mind or whether faith and religion are different. The quality of student arguments have gone up, so all of us must be on our game!

The junior high composed beautiful analyses of Thomas Cole’s Course of Empire and far surpassed the compositional standards of most seniors in high school with their moving prose.

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The Arcadian State

In Latin, students produced their own novellas on the Mandelorian, fantasy sheep, Spartacus, and Queen Victoria.

Of course, this is just a small sample of a great year, building foundational skills in physics, physical science, reading, math, writing and analyzing.
On the standardized Classic Learning Test South Campus scored in 68th percentile among classical schools, which is quite good!

2. Looking Ahead
Report cards will be sent out this week.
We aim to continue growing the student body rapidly this summer to get to 20 students.
There will be an open house tomorrow June 1st @ 7pm and every first Tuesday of the month.July 6th and August 3rd. Please help us get the word out!

We will start a PreKindergarten next year, but there will be limited slots. So register as soon as possible.

We want to host several, big, summer activities for families, especially softball and volleyball picnics on our fields. Please contact me if you want to be the point person on organizing an event.

Here is the required summer reading list for each grade level. These will be the first works to be discussed in class for these grade levels.Every junior high and high school student is to read two books, the mandated one below and one of their choice from a list in a separate email.

7th/8th – Alice in Wonderland
9th/10th – A Man for All Seasons
11th/12th – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

We have hired Nicholas Rao, a Master’s candidate in philosophy at SLU, a French and Latin teacher, traditional Catholic humanist, choralist, and musician to teach a few classes in Junior High and High School for next year. His experience and kindness will be a great addition to our team.

We still have several courses open for next year so feel free to put us in contact with anyone whom you think may make a great hybrid teacher.

3. Thank Yous There are many, many people to thank. But the most important are the following, they are the sine qua non of JPII South Campus.

  • Father Noah Waldman and Dash for opening up the school building to us in the first place.
  • JPII Apostolate Board for moral support and practical advice on extending the mission to South St. Louis.
  • Tyler Cowen and Emergent Ventures for the grant which allowed us to cover costs our first year.
  • Principal Lyn Schmitz for her support and counsel.
  • All our teachers for their tireless dedication to the academic and moral formation of our students.
  • And, of course, the Families of South Campus for believing in the mission and being a joy to serve.

Our second year will bring new faces and new joys. Thank you for all your support and prayers.

God bless our endeavors,