Students at the Prep
What's it really like to go to St. John's? Click through the slideshow on this page to see what Prep students have to say.
Naaz - Class of 2015
“I knew the studies would be rigorous at St. John’s, but I’ve learned that it’s not just about your grades. It’s about your life, your community, and how you can become a better person and a better global citizen.”
Learning about world cultures is important to Naaz, whose parents came to the United States from India. His own travels to visit family in India have expanded his worldview, and make him want to know more about how people in different parts of the world live.
When Naaz came to the Prep, he was glad to find that students shared his interest in different cultural perspectives.
“I’m in Spanish class with kids who speak Spanish at home, and they speak with the teacher very easily. At first, I couldn’t understand much, but now I can and it makes me very happy. People in other parts of the world live differently, and St. John’s Prep shows you that.”
Music is a big part of life for Naaz, who started playing the sax in the sixth grade. He plays in the Prep concert band and belongs to the Woodwind Club. Musicians like Dave Brubeck and Duke Ellington inspire him, and he hopes to start a band with friends.
More than anything, it’s the teachers and students who make Naaz glad he decided to come to St. John’s.
“The environment here is great. I want to be someone who can do well and take care of my family some day, and students here share those same dreams. You make friends with people who have their futures in mind, and I like that. The students here are amazing, and the teachers are just as good.”
Matt - Class of 2014
“My two brothers came to St. John’s. They both loved it, and I wanted to have the same kind of high school experience,” says Matt. “It’s been great. The time has flown by.”
Matt is the kind of person who likes to dig right in and get involved with school life. He’s found plenty to do at St. John’s, from Aviation Club and Student Council to Campus Ministry. “St. John’s offers so much. The only problem is that there aren’t enough days in the week to do it all! You definitely find your niche here.”
That niche may be an unexpected one, as Matt discovered. When he didn’t make the basketball team freshman year, he started playing intramural basketball and rarely misses any of the 3-on-3 games now. “Even if you don’t make a team, you can definitely play sports.”
Joining the Aviation Club and taking flight lessons was another unexpected discovery that has added to Matt’s Prep experience. “You’re blown away if you’ve never been up in a plane that small before. It's an incredible experience.”
Doing well academically is a priority for Matt, who follows the news and loves learning about the events of the past and how they influence our lives today. “I love to look globally at how people live, their experiences and challenges, so that we can learn from the past. Reading ‘Mila 18’ in Mr. Smith’s history class really opened my eyes to what happened before World War II.”
To balance his time and take advantage of everything he wants to do at St. John’s, Matt depends on well honed organizational skills. “They teach organizational skills as soon as you get here, and that’s been really important for me.”
Dan - Class of 2014
There’s a lot Dan likes about St. John’s, but it’s the atmosphere of respect he values most.
The academics are demanding, according to Dan, so it’s important to know that people respect one another and care about doing well – in the classroom, sports and after-school activities. “There’s a brotherhood here, and people are really supportive of each other. There are no cliques, and that makes everyone feel comfortable.”
The sense of respect that characterizes Prep life begins with the teachers, Dan says. “The teachers are amazing. They treat you like adults, and if you have questions about your work, they’re always helpful.”
History and English classes are Dan’s favorites. He found AP European history course particularly compelling. “It fascinates me to learn about different people through the ages.”
It doesn’t take long to appreciate the wide range of electives at St. John’s, and Dan has already taken web design and drawing. “Drawing was a really fun class, and we learned so much. It’s a great way to express yourself.”
Sports are a big part of life for Dan, who plays basketball and tennis for the Eagles. And thanks to some well-honed time management skills, he is involved with Campus Ministry programs and activities like the Greek & Latin Club (he was elected Senator for his class) and the Investment Club.
Dan’s older brother came to the Prep before him, so he knew what to expect as a freshman. But even so, there were pleasant surprises. “Everyone here is just so nice. You learn to work hard, meet new kids, and get involved. There is so much to do that you’ll never be bored. It’s an awesome school.”
Adam - Class of 2014
It’s not everyone who thinks of going to school as fun, but that’s exactly how Adam feels about St. John’s. Which is not to say that it’s always easy. “Adjusting to the work in freshman year was a big transition, but after I got into the groove of things, I loved it. The teachers are really down to earth and that made a big difference for me. I also got involved in clubs, and that’s when I knew that this was the right school for me.”
Outside of the classroom, Adam finds it easy to try new things and explore new interests. He counts history as one of his favorite classes, and looks forward to expanding on what he learns in class by participating in one of the service and cultural immersion trips that are offered every year. And after taking drawing and painting courses, he joined the Art & Design Club.
In part because his own experience has been so positive, Adam volunteered to become an Eagle’s Wings orientation leader for incoming freshmen. “I had a great experience when I started at St. John’s. I just wanted to be a part of that again.”
When people ask him what it’s like to go to an all boys school, Adam says it’s not an issue. “That’s not the thing to be worrying about. You’ll still see your friends and you’ll meet kids here. What you learn at St. John’s is how to find what you do best, not what everyone else thinks is important. If you want to stand out and be unique, you’ll find that opportunity at St. John’s.”
Dan - Class of 2013
Ask Dan Milaschewski what he likes about St. John’s and he ticks off four reasons in quick succession: Strong academics, great teachers, tons of activities, and exciting sports.
“There is something for everyone here, but the sense of community is what I like best about the Prep. Everyone is friendly and upbeat,” he says. “The teachers have a reputation for being tough, but I’ve found that they’re very understanding. They really care about you and your well-being. Also, kids participate in class and they’re supportive of one another. That makes a big difference.”
After playing three sports freshman year, Dan decided to focus on volleyball so that he would have time for some of the other activities he wanted to try, like Drama Guild and Future Problem Solvers. “I never imagined being involved with acting or with a club like Future Problem Solvers, but I really like them both. To get your work done, you definitely have to learn to manage your time, but that helps you prepare for college.”
On the volleyball court, Dan typically plays back row, but he can play libero or defensive specialist, too. He likes the speed and agility of the game, and he likes trying to read the other team and anticipate their moves. “It’s a great game. The coach says it’s like chess.”
On stage, he’s been in everything from “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot” and “Alice in Wonderland” to a collection of one-act plays. This year, he snagged a role in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
“It surprised me, but I fell in love with acting. I like being on stage and it gives you confidence when you have to make presentations in class.”
For Dan, the opportunities at the Prep add up to a great experience. So, what advice would he give to freshmen just starting out at the Prep? “Get involved! I’ve gained so many friends from my classes, volleyball and drama.”
Brendan – Class of 2014
St. John’s felt like home before Brendan ever started his freshman year. “I came for a shadow day and loved the atmosphere. Everyone was really nice and the teachers included me in class discussions. It just felt right,” he says.
Students come to the Prep from a lot of different cities and towns, but making new friends came naturally, Brendan says. “Everyone got to know each other during orientation and, as soon as you get to know people, you form bonds and build friendships.”
Although he gravitates toward math and science, Bredan was excited by how much he liked his freshman global studies class. Whatever the class, he likes to be challenged academically and finds the give and take between teachers and students exciting. “All of my teachers go above and beyond in every way. They all have a deep passion for what they teach and they interact well with students. That’s important.”
Upbeat and easy going, Brendan likes to stay on top of things. When classes, sports (he plays soccer and hockey) and after-school activities get busy, he often heads to the library to do homework and study. “Whenever I have free time, that’s where I go. I like the quiet setting and it’s a great place to focus. I love it there.“
For Brendan, the Prep’s wide open campus reflects the sense of freedom that he’s found at St. John’s. “This was a great choice for me. I wanted a school that would challenge me to use all of my abilities and St. John’s does that. It makes you want to do well.“
Tyler – Class of 2012Haverhill
Imagine yourself on the parquet at the TD Garden in Boston in the final moments of a thrilling championship basketball game. That’s exactly where Tyler stood, camera in hand, when the Prep basketball team won the Division I State Semi-Finals before going on to clinch the state title four days later. As a photographer and editor for the Spire yearbook, Tyler covers a lot of school activities, but that was one game he will never forget.
The yearbook is just one of many things that keep life at St. John’s interesting for Tyler. He belongs to the Asian Culture Club (It’s great fun, especially the trips to Chinatown) and he manages the varsity lacrosse team. “I record the statistics, which means that I keep track of who had shots, who had assists, and who had goals. When we’re at home, I keep track of the clock. It’s awesome.”
Though he doesn’t consider himself an actor, he even took to the stage when his school counselor asked him to appear in a light-hearted performance designed to help freshman parents understand the transition to high school is like for their sons. “We had a great time. It was fun to remember what we went through freshman year, and I will definitely do it again next year.”
Being involved at school is important for Tyler, but what he values most at St. John’s are the teachers and the academic challenge. Tyler’s two older brothers graduated from the Prep and then went on to Holy Cross and Bates. He knew from their experiences that St. John’s would prepare him well for college, and that is exactly what he wanted.
“You have to be ready to work hard at the Prep, but the teachers are always there to help,” he says. “I love my classes and I’ve had great teachers.”
Connor – Class of 2012
It was the impressive range of computer science courses that clinched it when Connor was deciding where to go to high school. Computer science is his passion and when he saw how many options the Prep offers, he knew that St. John’s was the right place.
“My parents have always encouraged me to work hard at school and the academics stood out at the Prep. I’m taking AP computer science now and I’ll be talking an independent study next year. The topics will be essentially my choice; there are so many opportunities here,” he says.
“I also liked the campus life and the fact that there are so many options after school. Part of being a St. John’s Prep student means being involved in campus life,” he says.
As much as Connor enjoys programming and computers, he takes advantage of the full range of clubs, intramurals and activities going on every day at the Prep.
“Our carpool never leaves until 5:30, which gives us time to do things after school. We might play basketball, drop by the History Club for one of Mr. Smith’s lectures about the Holocaust, or go to a soccer game. There is always something going on. Being involved in campus life has made me a better person,” says Connor.
What advice will Connor give his younger brother, who will be a freshman in the fall?
“I’ll encourage him to work hard, which I know he will do, and I’ll make sure he gets involved after school. We’ll keep the carpool going to 5:30,” laughs Connor.
“I quickly fell in love with all things St. John’s. As soon as my brother saw the campus, he knew that this is where he wanted to be, too,” Connor says.
Josh – Class of 2012
Josh happily describes himself as the kind of person who likes to get involved, and that’s exactly what he did freshman year at St. John’s.
In his case, that meant running cross-country and track, playing volleyball, singing in the a cappella group, and joining the Jewish Student Union among other activities. “There are so many groups represented, so many things that you can do, and the school supports every one of the clubs on campus. It’s great,” he says.
In the classroom, Josh is a “numbers guy” who gravitates toward math and science, especially chemistry. “I wasn’t really challenged before, but I have been able to excel here. We have incredible math and science departments, and the teachers are some of the brightest people I have come across in my life. With the rigorous courses I’m taking and the things I’m learning, I’m thinking about engineering in college, which I would never have considered before.”
When he looks ahead to college and beyond, Josh sees engineering as a career that would match up nicely with his growing passion for social justice. “I am interested in Engineers Without Borders. They do things like design and build wells in developing countries, and it’s something I am definitely thinking about.”
A strong sense of community forms the backdrop for everything at the Prep, Josh says. “Everything the school stands for brings people closer together, and the kids who are attracted to coming here are looking for that kind of community. One of the things I love about my class is that there are so many different personalities, but we all come together.”
For Josh, St. John’s is a place to grow in a deeper way. “I was uncertain how it would play out to be Jewish at a Catholic school, but learning Catholic social teachings has become a big part of my life,” he says. “I went to Israel last summer and that strengthened my Jewish identity. Now I am applying a lot of what I learn at St. John’s. It’s a work in progress.”
Chris – Class of 2013
“I love the atmosphere at St. John’s,” says Chris. “Everyone here wants to learn and that’s important to me.”
While classes at the Prep are definitely demanding, the teachers are always there to point you in the right direction, Chris finds. “I love the teachers here. They each have their own style, but they all want to work with you. They make sure you get it right.”
Chris naturally gravitates toward science, especially chemistry, but Chinese has become one of his favorite classes. “I expected it to be hard, but our teacher breaks the words and characters down so that you can see how everything connects.” He also has a keen interest in computer engineering and plans to take the Prep’s course in robotics. As for the future, he envisions becoming a doctor or a chemist.
School work isn’t the only thing that keeps Chris busy on campus. In addition to being president of the Break Dance Club, he plays scrumhalf in rugby, a sport he picked up as a sophomore. “I love rugby because the game never stops. You have to be strong and you have to play smart.”
Chris admits to being somewhat skeptical about the retreat his class took part in sophomore year. Thanks to the efforts of the retreat leaders and open-minded classmates, it turned out to be a great experience, one that brought the class together in a new way. “I learned a lot from the people in my group. You think you know kids at first, but after you really talk to them and get to know them as people, you relate to them so much more.”
Friendships also have a way of spilling over from the classroom into sports and extracurricular activities, and that’s one of the things Chris likes about the Prep. “There’s a lot of interaction in class and you bring that interaction outside after class,” he says. “We focus on work during class, and we’re friends outside of class.”
Tucker – Class of 2013
Tucker knew exactly what he was looking for in high school: challenging academics and competitive athletics. He found it all at St. John’s, and he couldn’t be happier.
Take Model UN, for example. “The first Model UN conference I did was in Boston. I represented the Bahamas during negotiations about small arms trade across the world. It was intimidating at first because I had never done Model UN before, but everyone helps you and you make a lot of friends,” he says. “It’s is a great way to learn about other cultures and how people in other countries view the United States. You learn pretty quickly that you don’t always see yourself the way other people see you.”
Model UN matches up nicely with Tucker’s interest in history, one of his favorite classes. “I’m taking AP history junior year. I find it very interesting to learn about people, the mistakes they make, and the solutions they find.”
A defensive end and fullback on the varsity football squad, Tucker plays defense for the Eagles lacrosse team in the spring season. It calls for some hefty organizational skills to balance schoolwork with athletics, but that’s a sacrifice Tucker is happy to make. “One of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had was playing in the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. We had worked so hard all season; making it to Gillette Stadium and seeing all of those lights was mesmerizing. I get goose bumps talking about it.”
A country music fan (Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and Toby Keith are favorites), Tucker thrives on the opportunities he’s found at St. John’s.
“The atmosphere is definitely competitive, but it’s encouraging, too. People encourage each other to do well; everyone wants to learn. You can’t be reluctant or you won’t get everything you can out of this rich environment.”