Cover Stories

Learn & Grow: St. Joseph’s Academy

High school is a time of learning and personal growth in a young person’s life, and St. Joseph’s Academy (SJA) in Frontenac is dedicated to providing students a balanced high school experience—both in and out of the classroom. The all-girl Catholic high school was founded in 1840 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

SJA recently launched a computer science and engineering program that offers four unique courses, including robotics. The curriculum takes advantage of the new Weidert Center for Integrated Science, which was part of a $7.5 million campus renovation and enhancement project that was completed last year. Along with new science facilities, the school has created the Sisters of St. Joseph Humanities Hall, which includes a new student success center and updated visual arts studios. “We’re looking forward to having our girls back on campus in the full community spirit of not I but we,” says Jennifer Sudekum, principal of academic affairs. “Our newly renovated spaces and all of the courses we offer allow students to explore their gifts and talents.”

The school’s curriculum is rigorous by design, offering 49 advanced placement and honors classes. SJA also is dedicated to ensuring each student receives a balanced education. “Each class is designed to enhance another,” Sudekum explains. “Developing the whole person is important as we send off these young women to make a profound impact in the world.” With the major renovations completed last year, the school has plans to update its library next year. “We’re always looking ahead and making sure we are providing the best environment for our girls,” she says. “We’re also mindful of looking for new ways to develop new courses.”

Extracurricular activities play an equally important role in SJA’s approach to education. Each student is required to be involved in one activity, but many choose to be involved in more, according to Karen Davis, principal of student affairs. “We have more than 35 clubs, and if girls don’t find something that piques their interest, they can submit a proposal to create their own,” she notes. “We try to address mind, body and spirit. We’re focused on campus ministry programs, and our athletic teams have won 59 state championships.” The school’s Future Business Leaders of America club operates the Cup of Joe coffee shop, which donates its profits to charity.

This year, the school also is partnering with On the FLY Productions to offer instruction in the more acrobatic elements of performing arts. “It’s a great opportunity to explore something new and build upon interests like theater, dance and our choral program,” Davis says. The collaboration is just one facet of SJA’s fine arts offerings. The school is putting on The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon this fall, and the spring musical will be Beauty and the Beast. “Our students put a lot of work into everything and are very talented,” she notes.

All of SJA’s extracurricular and academic offerings work together to build a comprehensive experience, and all activities play a major role in strengthening the school’s sense of community, according to Davis. “Balance is one of the core values the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet founded the school with, so it’s been part of our mission since the beginning,” Sudekum adds. “Our community is vital to who we are, so we are grateful to be back together on campus. This year already is off to a great start, and we’re looking forward to continuing.”

Founded in 1840 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Joseph’s Academy is an all-girls, Catholic high school in Frontenac. Pictured on the cover: SJA students in the dance, theater and choral programs participate in flying effects with On the FLY Productions. For more information, call 314.394.4321 or visit sja1840.org.

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Tim Parker Photography

Pictured at top: SJA is dedicated to providing young women a balanced education.
Photo courtesy of St. Joseph’s Academy

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