A New Space: St. Joseph’s Academy
This year, there was no doubt that the start of term for schools would look very different. While the pandemic certainly had its impact, the students and faculty of St. Joseph’s Academy (SJA) had a much more exciting change to look forward to. The all-girls’ Catholic high school in Frontenac recently completed a $7.5 million campus renovation. The project featured more than 23,000 square feet of enhancements, including new campus security measures, the Weidert Center for Integrated Science and the Sisters of St. Joseph Humanities Hall.
The new facilities were funded as part of the school’s Expect More Capital Campaign for Every Girl. Construction began in 2019 thanks to the support of donors, including the estate of alumna Barbara Weidert (’47), which gifted the school $3.5 million. “Our supporters’ generosity allowed us to get a jump start on this project,” says Karen Davis, principal of student affairs. “Having, new larger spaces and more advanced technology has helped immensely when dealing with COVID-19.” Students have been able to return to campus while socially distancing and wearing masks at all times.
While collaboration looks a little different right now, the Weidert Center for Integrated Science already has hosted its first classes and lab experiments. It features renovated and upgraded science, engineering and technology spaces for both lectures and hands-on projects. “Our students have everything they need to spark their interest in STEM,” says Regina Mooney, Ph.D., SJA president. “Oftentimes, girls aren’t mentored toward pursuing the sciences. We want to make sure they have the opportunity to explore these subjects.” The school’s approach has proven to be effective: 98% of students pursue science electives beyond their core requirements.
Along with new science facilities, the school has updated its visual arts center and studios as part of the newly renamed Sisters of St. Joseph Humanities Hall. The renovation also includes a new student success center, which is known as the “Spence Shine Shack” since it was made possible through a donation from alumna Suzie Spence (’82) and her husband, Dave. “We wanted to create a resource that could be used by all students, not just those struggling academically,” Mooney explains. The center has two spaces: one for collaborative work and another for individual study.
The renovations are a reflection of the school’s unique approach to education, which dates back to its establishment in 1840 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. “One of the sisters’ charisms is to always be moving toward the more,” Davis notes. “With these new facilities, we can keep that philosophy in action at the academy.”
With the campus enhancement project wrapping up, the Expect More Capital Campaign will continue to support another important area of growth for the school: scholarships. “We want to continue to make a St. Joe education available to all qualified young women,” Mooney says. “We are excited to have these new facilities in which we can work and learn together as a community. The sisters of St. Joseph of Caraondelet were real trailblazers, and we’re continuing that legacy by offering the cutting-edge resources and technology our students need.”
Founded in 1840 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Joseph’s Academy is an all-girls’ Catholic high school in Frontenac. It recently completed a $7.5 million campus enhancement initiative. Pictured on the cover: St. Joseph’s students work on an experiment in the new Weidert Center for Integrated Science. For more information, call 314.394.4300 or visit sja1840.org.
Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography
Pictured at top: St. Joseph’s Academy students
Photo: Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography
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