The SJI student is a passionate young man or woman with the courage to be challenged, the humility to be coached, and the charity to be a good friend. The SJI student enjoys play and competition, feasting and working in the garden. The SJI student has a hunger to seek the truth in every subject. Our students are living proof that today’s young men and women are capable of truly knowing and loving what is good, true, and beautiful.
Enriching students with a vibrant practice of the Catholic Faith is the most essential component of student life at St. Jerome Institute, and such liturgical and sacramental enrichment permeates the school. Formal liturgical activity, including weekly Mass and morning Lauds, is accompanied by the periodic celebration of feasts and solemnities. Classroom study of the faith and our Catholic history is enlivened by charitable work and service to the wider community. The school’s communal life of virtue is complemented by individual reflection and personal mentoring. Our faith life is not just another class, but an integral part of everything we do.
Learning to work with one’s hands is an essential aspect of a young person’s education, as it enables the person to be of greater service to others. Gardening, woodwork, plumbing, basic engine maintenance, cooking, and electrical work are just a few examples of the sort of topics that are studied in Practicum. This work is frequently transformed into a labor of love for various local charitable causes that abound in the DC area. Students participate in inter-generational work outside of the family and school community, allowing them to gain wisdom from their elders and teach younger children who look up to them. Discovering themselves more fully through virtuous action in everyday work fosters a sense of wonder at the gratuitous nature of reality itself.
At St. Jerome Institute, the place of liturgical life extends beyond weekly Mass and acknowledging Holy Days of Obligation, as throughout the school year we enjoy a number of school feasts. On the days of Michaelmas, All Hallowsmass, Immaculate Conception, Epiphany, Annunciation, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and many others, the school comes together and enjoys an enormous celebratory meal. Each feast day includes food, music, poetry, and unique school traditions associated with that day. Games, competitions, and live music conclude these joy-filled days.
Modern technology presents us with great opportunities and dangerous distractions. The ability to project photographs and videos, give presentations, and access online educational applications can be of great benefit to students when utilized by a skilled teacher. In the lab, technology presents students with the opportunity to extend our senses and take measurements with great accuracy. Some students may greatly benefit from the use of assistive devices that help them in overcoming learning challenges.
At the same time, we recognize the great temptations and distractions that accompany modern technology. There can be an alienating depersonalization when modern technology is used as a substitute for real learning. With this in mind, we aim to be prudent in our proper usage of technology in the classroom. In general, we give a certain pride of place to the tried-and-true practices of taking notes, annotating by hand, and reading from paper copies of books.
What is a feast without a game of Viking Chess? What makes a challenge worth the effort unless a Gold Feather is at stake?
Humans frequently put forth their greatest effort while striving with others in competition. As the writer of the Book of Proverbs states, “Iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” At the St. Jerome Institute, we provide arenas of competition that strengthen the student body, foster friendship and help our students attain excellence.
Such opportunities include school-wide competitions, in which students attempt to complete Institute Challenges as set forth by the headmaster. Other forms of competition include the Feast Day games, Athletic Field Day competitions, and the numerous sports played in Gymnasium class.
Our Gymnasium class offers the opportunity to follow through on our mission to educate the whole person. In so many of today’s schools, physical education programs tend to be phased out or viewed as extracurricular. At the St. Jerome Institute, we understand that the formation of the human body is integrated with the education of heart and mind. In our Gymnasium classes, students are lovingly challenged to be the best expressions of themselves in every aspect, including the body.
What is the structure and purpose of the human body? At SJI we believe physical excellence must be a response to this question. Our students will run, crawl, roll, and jump, and grow in heroic, magnanimous spirit as they are challenged in classic exercises. This physical culture is most emphasized in Gymnasium class, but is integrated throughout the school days. For example, students might work at standing desks, and are invited to stretch, play outside, and engage in playful competition during extracurricular periods. In competitive sports, love, honor and virtue – rather than mere victory – are understood to be the goals of any match. In festive or non-competitive exercises, the joy of the activity itself leads students to pursue excellence. Preference is always given to sports and activities that quicken or quiet the mind, promote graceful movement, delight the students and their community, and foster bonds of fellowship among the students.
The pursuit of academic excellence is not the entirety of human life in community. By partaking in our extra-curricular activities and clubs, students at St. Jerome Institute are able to engage in activities of leisure for which they share like-minded interest. These activities give the mind, soul, and body an opportunity to rest in something that enhances their innate dignity as human beings.
Whether in playing tennis or ultimate frisbee, engaging in chess matches, mastering the art of physical motion in Combative Movement Club, pursuing the craft of fly-tying, partaking in the intense but friendly competition at Ping-Pong Club, or in joyfully singing folk songs in our Troubadour Tradition group, our students are able to joyfully experience the wonder of what it means to be alive.
Each year gives SJI students and faculty a chance to review and offer the clubs and extracurriculars that best fit with their mutual interests.