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A New School Year Opens at St. John’s Prep

Born before the invention of penicillin, the crossword puzzle, and motion pictures with sound, the first students to pass through the doors at St. John’s Prep in 1907 encountered vastly different challenges, unknowns, and opportunities than this fall’s student body of 1,481 pupils. And yet, the same values and principles that carried the day 115 years ago were front and center this morning as the Prep community gathered for the first time in 2022, marked by the annual Opening Prayer Service. Photos on SmugMug.

After checking in with their first-period class, students made their way to the Leo and Joan Mahoney Wellness Center beneath clearing skies following two days of drought-busting rain. Following a prayer read by Student Council President Jack Fillion ’23, returning students, faculty, and staff reveled in a beloved Prep tradition—welcoming 347 new students from grades 6 through 11 to the service with a standing ovation and cheers that endured more than eight minutes. In keeping with tradition, the focus of opening day honed in on one of the five Xaverian values. This year, the School will celebrate the collective ideal of trust and zeal.

Head of School Ed Hardiman, Ph.D. P’19 ’21 ’26 met the moment by challenging the assembly to direct their gifts and talents in the service of others. “Our challenge this year is really simple,” he said. “We need to foster a sense of trust by building each other up with the goal of empowering each other to share our gifts, talents, and our authentic selves with our community. In every interaction—in classrooms, art studios, practice fields, competitions, as spectators, no matter where we are—we need to respond to this challenge and live this ethic. This is how we model trust and zeal.”

Dr. Hardiman furnished a further illustration of the Xaverian spiritual value of trust and zeal that will animate the campus community this year.

“Life is more full when we are open to others and engage in community,” he said. “The service opportunities that are offered by our community [are] experiences that challenge us to place our gifts and talents at the service of others. We do need to be kind, to be respectful, and to trust that others in our community will follow that example. Ultimately, the spiritual values of trust and zeal empower us to live the vocation of servant leader—one who influences any situation they encounter for the good of others.”

At the conclusion of the prayer service, members of the Prep’s Spire Society distributed silicon wristbands embossed with the words Trust and Zeal as students headed to class. Many Prep students wear multiple bracelets emblazoned with each of the five Xaverian values—simplicity, compassion, humility, trust and zeal—wristbands which they collect throughout the course of their time at St. John’s.

Though there was much to absorb, especially for those enjoying their first official day as an Eagle, the critical concepts of the service—that students should feel profoundly welcome and discover their individual inspiration to be warriors for the common good—clearly resonated. And as the familiar buzz of classmates and peers connecting and reconnecting made its way across campus this morning, the 116th academic year far above the neighboring hilltops was unmistakably underway.