This Friday, December 13, Borromeo Academy will host our third annual Prayer Luncheon. Our goals are three: one is to raise awareness of Catholic, classical, liberal arts model education; the second is to raise funds for student-scholars from low-income families living in poverty; and the third is to pray for children and the faith of future generations.
Here is a brief synopsis of our recent history. In May of 2016, it was broadcast that Saint Charles School would close because of a 70% drop in enrollment over a decade and financial drain it caused this community. Parishioners and friends petitioned, worked, and sacrificed to change the trajectory. A leadership sustainability team was formed that recommended we shift from being a neighborhood parish school to a classical model academy rooted in Catholicism. We increased enrollment from 117 students (K-8) to 162. Our pre-school enrolls another forty-one children. I believe that, if we continue to grow, we will become self-sustaining within a couple more years.
The classical model teaches children to love learning. Rather than presenting education in ways that judge, test, and rank students, it helps children discover their immense capacity to wonder, explore, and learn. Based on a triviuum model with grammar at the base, kids are exposed to the world of language and its roots, e.g., because about 65% of English words (90% of polysyllabic words) come from Latin, our youngest children are introduced to it in poetry, songs, jingles, and study exercises. We emphasize memorization, recitation, and repetition. The second layer of learning is logic; scholars learn to think critically and solve problems creatively, discovering their own unique style of synthesizing information while climbing to higher levels of learning. The final layer is rhetoric, in which students demonstrate their learning in numerous ways that get incorporated into daily living. Teachers promote linked-learning in which subject matter is consistent from science to religion and from music and art to history and literature; similarly, linear-learning from elementary to intermediate to middle school levels are unified so scholars are better prepared for high school in academics, behavior, and social development. Our compass always points to beauty, goodness, and truth because we want scholars to not only gain knowledge but also wisdom, and not only to be wise but also holy.
Because many of our scholars come from low-income families that need support to provide basic needs and because our commitment is to provide a religious education to those who cannot afford it, we rely on student sponsors. The cost to educate one child for one year is approximately $6,300. We are immensely grateful for generous donors who sponsor individual scholars at $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000 levels. This year, parishioners are excited to match a $50,000 challenge grant to us; to date, we have collected about $30,000 toward that match. Thank you for whatever assistance you can give to support the children.
Finally, we focus our annual gathering on prayer because, as The Epistle of Saint James reminds us, faith without action is not really faith and prayer without works is not actually prayer. Our relationship to God is intimately connected to our relationship with those we serve and those who need us most. We need the poor as much as the poor need us. We are blessed to advance the message, and carry out the mission, of Christ in our city and in our school. We make small sacrifices to help Borromeo Academy reach solid ground just as we do our part to serve the less fortunate; in that, our Christian nature is strengthened and our souls are better prepared for union with God. Three years ago our prayer was for survival; now it is in celebration—for we have come a long way and we are inching toward standing on our own.