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Jamestown Sun - September 11, 2018

Expanding St. John's

Marlys Gallagher, Alumna and Parishioner 

Dear Friends of St. John's Academy,

I cannot imagine my life without a foundation in Catholic education. As a student at St. John’s Academy, I remember feeling a closeness to my classmates because of our shared relationship with God. I always felt cared for and safe at the school. I learned the value of helping others through penny drives and community service events and developed life-long friendships. As a grandparent of current students, St. John’s Academy continues these traditions and values. To this day, the small class sizes and shared faith foster close friendships. Similarly, the Sisters from my time at the school are gone, but a group of devoted teachers have inherited their dedication, enthusiasm, and love of learning. 

Right now, we have an opportunity to ensure that a Catholic education continues to be available in Jamestown for future generations. Renovating the existing building will allow us to build amenities that are designed for students at this age-level and to enhance classrooms for modern education. The plans also include positive new features. Personally, I think the new chapel will be a great addition. I have many fond memories of masses and retreats at the chapel in the demolished convent. With the new chapel, children will be able to experience weekly mass and priest visits in the same kind of spiritual setting that I enjoyed as a student. Additionally, a bright, open cafeteria for children to eat and socialize is badly needed. Overall, I believe this project will create a more inviting school for students, families, and the entire community.

St. John’s Academy has been a significant landmark in Jamestown for more than 125 years.  I believe the school should continue to serve the children of our community for the next century. Please join me in investing in this important institution.

Marlys Gallagher
Campaign Honorary Chair

Ben and Brenda Kirkeby Family, School Parents and Parishioners

Dear Fellow Parishioners,

As parents, we chose to enroll our students at St. John’s Academy because we wanted them to have a good education in a Catholic-Christian atmosphere. St. John’s Academy has provided a nurturing environment since our kids began childcare. They are now in the 6th and the 8th grades. Time flies! 

While we believe that teaching great values starts at home, we also wanted our beliefs to be built upon and reinforced during the 7+ hours per day our kids spend in school. Faith education at St. John’s opens doors and prompts conversation within our family about faith and God.  We love that at the Academy there is a consistent message from people our kids know, love, and trust, such as parents, teachers, priests, and administrators.

Today, we are really excited about the renovation and expansion of the school. In particular, we believe that the new chapel at the heart of the school will be a great way to keep God literally present, front, and center in the children’s daily lives.

We feel as though God called us to provide for future generations by participating in A Campaign for St. John’s Academy.  Although our kids will not see this come to fruition while attending the school, we are passionate about helping provide a state-of-the-art facility for others.  As parishioners or school families, each of us is benefiting from what others sacrificed and provided years ago.  We believe it is our turn to contribute to something beyond our own immediate needs and desires and build something great for the next generation.

Ben and Brenda Kirkeby
Campaign Volunteers

Thomas Rulon and M. Joyce Rulon

Dear Parishioners,

I was born in Jamestown, ND in 1930, the third child of Arthur and Therese Rulon. My father served as Treasurer of St. James for over 40 years, the chairman of the Catholic cemetery, and was an active member of the Knights of Columbus until his death. My mother was the chairwoman of the Altar Society, which maintained the sanctuary of the church. Our home was located only a half block south of St. James Catholic Church, and I attended St. John’s Academy from 1936 to 1944, after which I transferred to Jamestown High School.

The combination of being raised in a devout, sincere Catholic home and attending St. John’s Academy in my formative educational years has had a profound influence on my life. This early experience greatly assisted me in my personal career achievements to the present. Recently, my wife, Joyce, and I gave funding to acquire and upgrade the computers for the students at SJA and plan to assist in future digital needs.

Although I have not lived in Jamestown since 1951, I continue to remain in touch with my home city in many ways, including through St. James Basilica and the Academy. I am very excited that this campaign will assure the future of both institutions for many more years, not only for the Catholic families, but for the entire Jamestown community.

I made the very easy choice to support A Campaign for St. John’s Academy, PAST. PRESENT. FUTURE. because of my sincere belief in Catholic education, my close relationship with my hometown, and in memory of my dear parents. I trust that the parish and the community as a whole will participate in this most worthy endeavor.

Thomas Rulon, MD, CM and M. Joyce Rulon

Marie Boyle

Dear Parishioners of St. James Basilica,

My late husband, Donald, and I did not have any kids. So, when I look around the Church, I see the children in the pews and the students of St. John’s Academy as my children – they are God’s children. Which is why, over the last decade, the school has become an important part of our philanthropic wishes.

St. John’s Academy is a place where young people can connect with God and with one another. They create a sense of Christian community and can go out into our world to be a witness to faith.

I believe that being generous and giving back are an important part of my spiritual life. We are all called to evangelize and to pass our faith on to the next generation. As parishioners, there is no greater investment we can make in the future of our church than in the education of our children through both our Catholic schools and Faith Formation programs.

I am happy to be a part of this historic project for the future of St. John’s Academy and I hope others will be inspired to join this effort to preserve the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph to inspire and educate the children of Jamestown. 

Marie Boyle

Mark and Melanie Anderson Family

“A triangle is the strongest shape because any added force is evenly spread through all three sides."  We see it every day in our three branches of government.  We feel it everyday in our Faith through the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The foundation of the Anderson Family triangle is built from our Domestic Church, the St. James Parish Community, and St. John's Academy.   Without the never-failing support from SJA - staff, kids, families; well, frankly, we can't imagine the last twelve years without it!

We have tried to describe all of the benefits and blessings we have received being a part of SJA - and failed.  Words cannot describe all of them - actions can.  That is why we have committed a gift to A Campaign for St. John’s Academy. PAST. PRESENT. FUTURE. on behalf of our kids, hopefully someday our grandchildren, and the future of our whole Christian Family!

God Bless!

Mark & Melanie Anderson
Parents and Parishioners

Brady Althoff, SJA Student

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Brady collected $160.34 in birthday money that was donated to the St. John’s Academy building fund.

Thank you for this selfless gift and putting the school needs before your own pleasures.

Keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, who himself said,
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Act 20:35

Pam and Jerome Szarkowski 

We are strong supporters of St. John’s Academy and we currently have four granddaughters attending the Academy. The proposed building upgrades are sorely needed and, if implemented, would position SJA to serve our grandchildren and all of kids in our community for the next 125 years. We are glad to be supporting A Campaign for St. John’s Academy. PAST. PRESENT. FUTURE. and believe in this project for many reasons.

Firstly, the merits of private, Catholic schooling are well-documented. At the Academy, students receive individual attention and are instilled with work ethic and respect. The result is that these become life-long virtues for our children.

Secondly, we all have a duty to spread the “Good News.” Jesus says in John 16:9 – “The world’s sin is unbelief in me,” and he calls on all of us to be disciples. A world employing Christ’s teachings is a world without conflict.

Lastly, perhaps our biggest reason for supporting this historic effort, is that the Szarkowski family pioneered in the Fried area, which in the late 1800’s was a strong Polish migrant region. In fact, they built a Catholic school in Fried, which shortly after it opened was destroyed by a fire. Rather than rebuild, the brick was salvaged and transported to Jamestown to be repurposed for the construction of St. John’s Academy. It can be said that my forefathers supported the school even before it was built. We want to continue to be part of that legacy and ensure that we do not “drop the ball” for future generations.

Pam and Jerry Szarkowski
School Grandparents

Jim Engels, Business Manager

Raising money is never easy.  No one enjoys asking others for money. Coupled with that, sharing and giving are things that are difficult for most of us human beings.   As you may have noticed, we are in the middle of a capital campaign to raise funds to remodel our existing building and add additional needed space at St. John’s Academy.  We need $7.5 million dollars for this project.   We have raised just over $4.5 million so far.  We need $3 million more.

As we approached former campaigns during my work here at St. James, I must admit I was just a bit pessimistic about our chances for each project. For the Zebedee Center addition ($1.5 Million) which included the new gym, faith formation offices, and youth ministry room at SJA, I asked  “How will we ever be able to pay for it?”  More recently, the funds necessary to build the Community Room addition and new Priest’s residence ($1.67 million) looked difficult to reach.

In every instance, I’m happy to admit that I was dead wrong.  I was proven wrong by your faith filled response to God’s call to stewardship.  He does great things through us, the faithful.  He helps us create spaces that work to build the Kingdom of God.  Educational spaces for our children.  Comfortable spaces to worship.   Educational spaces for adults to learn more about our faith and to share our faith with others.  Faith sharing spaces for all of us.

If the past is any predictor of the future, I will be wrong again.   In the end we will have beautiful new and remodeled classrooms for our faith formation and St. John’s Academy students.  We will have a new chapel and a new kitchen and commons area. We will have a top-notch facility for now and well into the future.   Your faithful stewardship, with God’s help, will make it happen.

Tammy & Steve Gapinski

If someone would have told us that we would be living in North Dakota and starting our family here – we wouldn’t have believed them. Yet, here we are, raising our family and grateful for the opportunities that God has presented us.

Through St. John’s Academy we’ve been led to many meaningful relationships that we are beyond grateful for… This includes growing in our faith and love for our Lord. Our first years in Jamestown, it wasn’t uncommon to have Steve in my classroom helping, and through the years, my boys have come to ‘help’ in their own way as well. Knowing our own children will be able to experience their education at St. John’s Academy brings us peace and gratitude. How exciting is it to imagine an updated, beautiful space to match what St. John’s has already captured in the hearts of many?

St. John’s Academy is hope. St. John’s Academy is a place where lives are changed. St. John’s Academy gives us an opportunity to invest in young lives that will go out in our world and hopefully create a better today, tomorrow, and future for others. Our communities are only as strong as our schools and what we invest in them. Saint Pope John Paul II addressed the youth with this quote, and it could fit all of our lives: “The future is in your hearts and in your hands. God is entrusting to you the task, at once difficult and uplifting, of working with Him in the building of the civilization of love.” What are we doing to build a civilization of love in our community? What can we offer for the future generations at St. John’s Academy? We will never truly know the impact we will have, however, we come after others that put their faith in St. John’s Academy, and it still stands today. Our prayers are that through our sacrifices, this school will continue to positively impact lives and be standing for the foreseeable future.

The Gapinski Family
Tammy teaches 3rd grade @ SJA

Yvette Yatskis

I am the 6th grade teacher at St. John’s Academy.  I am a first hand witness of the power of a school that ties itself in everything it does to God.  If you have never experienced the incredible link of this school to the message of God, you just have to be in the building on a day when the kids are singing, it will bring you to your knees.  The presence of God is palpable.  A perfect example is when we celebrate Christmas.  In a day and time where people are seeing Christmas as a secular holiday, St. John’s is proud to celebrate the real reason.   On the last day before Christmas vacation, we have 6th grade students portray Mary and Joseph. They knock on each classroom door. The classes then follow them.  Soon the entire school is following Mary and Joseph to the gymnasium where we sing Christmas Carols.  As the students make this journey, they sing.  The sound of children’s voices singing to God to celebrate the coming of His Son is one of the most powerful moments I have ever experienced.  That doesn’t happen in a public school.  This is the missing link in our society. And it is kept alive at St. John’s Academy. 

St. John’s Academy provides children the ability to not only learn about God, but also to develop a relationship with Him. And most importantly, to learn how to live for Him.  In 6th grade we learn to be doers.  We learn that we are blessed to be able to know God. Not everyone in the world does.  I tell my students so many times I can’t count, “To him whom much is given, much is expected.”  My hope for my students is that they take the blessing of being a student at SJA and become the light for others.  In this way, SJA touches more lives than just those that are within those walls. 

Please prayerfully consider being a part of the incredible support system that allows St. John’s Academy to touch the lives of hundreds of kids each year.  This reaches out to their families, extended families, friends…and everyone they meet.  There is power in that.  Our world needs that!  So please join me in supporting our school.  In this world that is so troubled, we simply cannot afford not to.  

 ‘Twas the Time Before Renovation

‘Twas the time before renovation and all through the school
Every teacher was stirring and acting so cool
The boards were all hung on the walls with great care
Hoping the plaster wouldn’t peel off and cause a great scare
The children were nestled all snug in their desks
Because learning is something that they do best
More storage was needed and potential to tap
Let’s see what we can do and have a recap
When something is breaking we must fix the clatter
We sprang to see if we could mend what was the matter
The time has now come and it flew like a flash
We must save and fix our school so it does not crash
The rooms are not conducive to modern day learning
We give our best though our minds are turning
And thinking of how we can best serve our class
With a Smartboard, whiteboard, the task is vast
With a principal and staff, so lively and quick,
We knew it was the moment, YOU are the trick!

More help is needed, please help be the flame
We ask and we shout and we pray for you by name
Now Church, Now student, Now staff, and Now teacher
On Farmer, On Mother, On Father, and preacher
To the top of the nation! To the top of the town!
Now please help, please pray, all of those are profound
More space, more storage, a chapel and why?
So we can grow, expand, and learn about Christ, what a guy!
So generous of thoughtful donors to help us through
With sacrifice from all and my family too
And then we heard tinkling, high up on the roof
Is that a leak from the rain? There is the proof…
As the architects drew plans things started turning around
Down the hallway Monsignor and staff came with a bound
We were dressed in our Eagles gear from head to foot
We were clothed in Christ’s love, not ashes and soot;
A bundle of joy it was hard to contain
What would we do with all the space we would gain?
Our eyes – how they twinkled – our hearts were so merry
Our minds were racing – an updated school – how legendary!
More rooms, a chapel, an updated cafeteria space
More room to roam for childcare and a new entrance to showcase

From the top of the roof to the basement below
The reno will bring us up to date and offer better flow
We have a rich history and made many memories
It’s time to move forward and sustain for centuries
From the sisters that used to walk all these halls
From the people that have answered all your phone calls
This school is much more than a building you see
It’s a part of a much larger spiritual community
We are here to learn, to work, and to pray
Our love for Christ grows stronger each day

The lives impacted by this school are endless, you see
For me, I love all it has turned out to be
You all sprung to the challenge and for the sake of our history
Let us give of ourselves and not let it be a mystery
But I heard Monsignor exclaim, ere he preached with insight
Happy Capital Campaign to all and thanks for being the light

 By Tammy Gapinski, SJA 3rd Grade Teacher

LaRissa and Paul Wiley

Sending our children to St. John’s Academy has been one of the most important and rewarding decisions that we have made. We do not live in the Jamestown School District. When it was time for our oldest child to go to school, we made the choice to travel 25 miles into town each day; so he could attend Catholic School. We have been blessed with five children, and have kept on making those trips daily for the last 12 years. Our youngest child will start Kids Kingdom preschool next year. It has been a sacrifice for us to send our children to St. John’s Academy, but we have been blessed in countless ways because of it. Our children have been able to flourish both spiritually and academically. Not only are they receiving an excellent education, but because of St. John’s Academy our entire family has formed, and continues to form lasting, meaningful relationships.

At St. John’s Academy every day is offered to God. The students, staff, and families pray for, and with, each other. Recently, our first grader came home from school and informed us that every day when we wake, we should say this simple prayer- "Jesus, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day. Amen." He said, “If you say that every morning, then your whole day is a prayer!” To us, that is a perfect witness to the significance of Saint John’s Academy.

Please join us by investing in the future generations of this community by supporting the Capital Campaign- Past. Present. Future. We want to ensure that the witness of St. John’s Academy is kept alive for generations to come.

Students at St. John's Academy

Students at St. John’s continue to give from their piggy banks towards the building campaign.
They see the importance of making improvements to the school for the present and future students.

Henry is a Kindergarten student at St. John’s Academy. He told Mr. Trumbauer that he just LOVES kindergarten.
So he wanted to donate the money he has saved in his piggy bank. He donated $89.22 for the building fund.

Msgr. Wald & Andrew Trumbauer



Connor Anderson & Principal, Jeff Trumbauer



Claire & Adley Iverson