Investing in Our Junior High
The history of Benilde-St. Margaret’s School is often focused on the creation of two distinct schools – St. Margaret’s Academy and Benilde High School. The story further develops around the movement to save Benilde High School and the eventual closing of both St. Margare'ts Academy and Benilde High School so that a new school, Benilde-St. Margaret's could be formed. The intent of today’s message is to focus on another critical evolution of our school – the creation of our junior high.
In the 1980s, a handful of individuals led by Tom Zellmer from Good Shepherd School approached then Benilde-St. Margaret’s president Jim Hamburge to discuss a gap they saw in Catholic education – a high quality, sustainable junior high education. After a few years of planning and a leap of faith, the BSM Junior High was born. Close to thirty years later, that program, serving students in grades seven and eight, has become one of the finest holistic educational experiences in Minnesota.
Students in our junior high are immersed in an education that focuses on rigorous academics, development of faith, incredible co-curricular programs, and real service opportunities. It is quite common for a junior high student to be studying Latin, exploring northern Minnesota, solving geometric problems, talking with a priest, delivering a speech to 250 peers, designing engineering watershed projects, winning a championship in a sport or activity, singing at Mass, programming robots, performing on stage, mentoring others, serving at a food shelf, or leading part of a retreat. To supplement the common, there is also an incredible range of unique opportunities that speak to the heart and interests of our young students from female leadership mission trips to United Nations presentations in New York.
Amazingly, these exceptional experiences only tell half of the story. Our educators understand the unique developmental path of early teens. They are knowledgeable about the common, everyday dilemmas our young students confront associated with identity, values, faith, and social development. We are quite intentional about making sure each student is known as an individual and is nurtured and challenged to develop his/her highest potential. Furthermore, the entire junior high faculty works together constantly to help our students build success.
Relationships, knowledge, faith, professionalism, competition, challenge, support, character, and an awareness of God create a special combination in the education of our 7th and 8th grade students. Frankly, I am fortunate to see this play out daily and can identify no better investment in the development of our young teens.