If you are a prospective parent/guardian considering the unique opportunity and tremendous impact St. John’s Military School can have in a young man’s life, please understand there is a vast network of support and encouragement available to you throughout this very important decision making process. If you would like to speak with parents of former or current Cadets, please contact our St. John’s Military School Parents Association. You can also request a current or former parent/guardian contact you by emailing our Director of Admissions, Robert Forde. The letter below was written by Janet Terry, parent of Spencer Terry, class of 2006. Mrs. Terry is also a member of the St. John’s Board of Trustees.
Thoughts from a Parent of a St. John’s Graduate
I write this message to all of those who might be thinking about sending their son to St. John’s Military School. When asked about St. John’s, the first response my husband and I offer is that St. John’s saved our son’s life. Yes, he may well have survived high school in the public system, but we were not certain of that at the time. We knew there had to be a place for him to thrive…and we were blessed to have discovered that at St. John’s Military School. I know this must sound a bit extreme, but the reality is there, staring us in the face. We look today upon a fine young man who is self confident, disciplined, and has the courage to face the many challenges life will have in store for him. We do not worry about him, for we know that he has been given the solid foundation he needs to make his way. Sending our son to St. John’s was no easy decision, as I know it is not an easy decision for parents who might be reading this message. I encourage you to give your son the most powerful gift you could ever give him….an education at St. John’s Military School. Be prepared for a struggle, from your son, as well as within yourself. This struggle may even endure for the first few years your son attends St. John’s. I implore you to be strong and not to waiver from your decision. As I was told by a very wise former Commandant at St. John’s, they need to have the opportunity to work with your son for a minimum of two years in order to truly help him find his way. You, and your son, will always be grateful for the opportunity that awaits him.
Letter to a Son
As a parent/guardian of a Cadet at St. John’s Military School, you will experience a variety of deep emotions throughout your journey. From the nervousness of registration to the incredible pride and elation of Commencement Weekend, St. John’s is as much a poignant journey for a parent/guardian as it is a voyage of discovery and development for a Cadet. Your Cadet’s growth and flourishing abilities will keep you awed and inspired, but a shot of encouragement and vote of confidence is still helpful from time to time. The letter below was recently written by a father to his son, a new St. John’s student, and is an ideal example of the kind of love and devotion to a young man, and deep rooted belief in his potential for success, that St. Johns’ parents have for their sons.
Letter to Mr. Browning and the St. John’s Faculty and Staff
The following letter is from a current family of a St. John’s Military School Cadet. The Cadet, in his 2nd year at St. John’s, has matured and grown so much that the family felt moved to write to the Headmaster of St. John’s Military School, Mr. Dale Browning.
Mr. Dale Browning and ALL the folks at St. John’s Military School The way to begin this letter is to tell you I have started it many times. How do I adequately put into words my gratitude and express how thankful our family is for you and all of the wonderful people that make up the SJMS family? Our complete thankfulness is really the reason for my letter and I will get back to that. First, I want to go back in time and tell you how and why SJMS is a part our family. This is another Cadet’s story, I’m sure not unlike many and yet also unique as they all are in their own way. Unique as each candidate walking under the massive Iron Gate leading a young boy to first humble himself to the “process” and his New Boy rank. Our son’s grades had fallen steadily from his freshman year in high school at 3.1 through the sophomore year to 2.4 and followed by first three weeks of his junior year falling below 2.0 and flunking 3 classes. Not sure how one does that in only 21 days—might even be some kind of record for failure. Our son’s outside of classroom behavior reached the point where we could no longer keep tabs on him. The nine-month path he was on leading up to SJMS was filled with our warnings, punishments and clearly defined consequences. Our son — an outstanding young man with tremendous potential (probably sounds familiar), gets A’s on tests, a voracious reader, liked by everyone (nearly) balanced out with zero homework coupled with lies to back it up. Finally we had to face the unbearable – unbelievable – undesirable – STUFF (mildly put) outside of school. There was also the new first girlfriend, no angel and not the worst of influences but not a good one either or even anything close — we will leave it at that. So, three strikes later and before it was too late we had to do something and fast. We refused to stand by and watch this bright, intelligent, now unmotivated kid go down. We explored the possibilities of him living with relatives that offered help, changing schools, attending other alternative schools, enrolling him in boot camps, putting in place new rules and rewards, including continuing his flight training school. Nothing appeared to yield the radical change we believed would be necessary — until we checked into SJMS. So we pulled the trigger and yanked him out of public high school and enrolled our son in SJMS against his will and prepared him for his last week at home with us before Labor Day 2008. He said he hated us; hated his life and that never believed in God anyway. I could only rest knowing that for now at least our son would not be with too few options left in his young life. It is o.k. to be hated by our children now and then. We found that enrolling our son at SJMS was the easy part; it comes packaged with the anxiety of all the unknowns but there is a glimmer of hope, some promise and a peak into a future. The journey to Salina KS is the hardest thing my wife and I have ever done. I felt my heart ripping up through my chest about every 30 minutes or so and I prayed non-stop. This sustaining faith I am finding is being discovered and challenged to the current day since we first left our son at SJMS over 13 months ago. To say that our son met the challenges that came his way that first year would be an understatement. To say he matured only describes in a small way his remarkable growth as a young man made in one short year at SJMS. To say our son succeeded at many things last year at SJMS would be accurate. He learned to do his best at everything he tried and to try his best at everything asked of him. Discipline is one thing he learned at SJMS; however, what I see that he learned exceedingly more valuable to his future is his ability to discipline himself and his understanding that his integrity depends upon that. This year he gets the opportunity to put it all into practice as a leader. I pray he leads with earned respect and dignity. Around springtime 2009 we gave our son the opportunity to decide to attend the local public school or SJMS for his senior year. If our son came back to SJMS, which we firmly believed was where he needed to be, we wanted him there for his own reasons and to take complete ownership of being there. We trusted God would put our son where he needed to be. Heading into SJMS Commencement 09’ our son decided the place he belonged for his senior year was with the 122nd Corps at SJMS. This Cadet’s story might seem to end here and it does in a lot of respects. Except that SJMS is a marathon not a 100 yard dash and we have a long way to go until commencement at the end of 2010 school year. This past summer during enrollment of our youngest son for his sophomore year at the local public high school, our SJMS Cadet came along with us to see how his old high school was doing and to see if he might run into any of his old buddies. Some interesting encounters took place with a few friends, teachers and VP but nothing really significant. Later at home out back on the deck we were picking at some dead flowers in the flower pots. Out of the blue my son, without looking at me, continuing to prune said: “Dad, as soon I walked into that school today I knew I didn’t belong there. I saw the guys walking around and could see I wasn’t like them anymore. I knew I changed and belonged at SJ and SJ is the right place for me.” My response to my son was to tell him about the time when all of the New Boy parents met in the chapel the day we dropped off our New Boys. That Mr. Browning spoke to us about what our sons were going to be doing and what they were going to go through. That we weren’t going to be able to talk to our sons for five, or six, or whatever weeks it was. It felt then like an eternity and it brings tears to my eyes even today writing and thinking back on how it felt to leave our son there. I told my son that Mr. Browning spoke of the “process” our sons would be going through and that Mr. Browning used the term “process” quite a few times and how tough it would be on them but that we had to trust him and SJMS but that our sons were going to be safe. Mr. Browning kept referring to a necessary “process” to help our sons get out of their past, to learn things like the SJMS system, rules, learn discipline, respect of authority and themselves, and ultimately to discipline themselves, and finally to depend upon each other. I was quiet for a minute or two just waiting to see if my son was listening….picking off dead flowers, and– With that, my son’s response was: “Dad, the ‘process’ works.” And then he proceeded to tell me that it breaks you totally down to who you really are and gets rid of all the junk. Then the friends you make all year are real. I was speechless and am sure he saw the tears welling up. This I believe is why he has chosen to be a part of the 122nd Corps. So, this is the reason for my letter today, our family’s complete thankfulness. There are two kinds of thanks in this world so please don’t mistake this as the first of which makes our world go round day to day. They are offered when doors are opened for each other by strangers. The other thanks I am extending to you today is that such as described in the bible where we are forever thankful for a debt so great paid for us that we can not repay. Our family’s thankful hearts for SJMS is overwhelming! It is so great that our own son now has his future back we can never imagine thanking SJMS enough for what you have done for him and us. To name a few, and risking missing some, we are thankful for SJMS Teachers, our Cadet’s SJ Mom, the youth group & Mr. Leech for taking him each week, Nurse Watkins for taking care of him, anyone and everyone that always answers the phone when we call, the QM, MSG Lambert and your help with so many questions, SFC Jordan – the stories & advice, Mr. Lysell as always it’s the top where it all starts, Mr. Polzella – someone my son can look up to and model without fail, Ms. Wooten for being in there all the time and for everything all the cadets need, Major Stelljes – it is all under your command this takes place. Many more of you are in the stories and chapters making up this part of the book of my son’s life being written each day he wakes up in Salina KS. I feel I know each of you as he shares with me his experiences at SJMS, thank you for being there and being important to him. There is a special thank you here now for those of you that appropriately remain anonymous and are responsible for providing scholarship rewards for our son to attend SJMS– without you our Cadet would not be with you all again this year. Thank you so very much for your generosity and help in times such as these that are so difficult for families and institutions. Finally, thank you Mr. Dale Browning for giving of all of yourself to SJMS. The SJMS website has a video that states that we parents give you our boys and you give us back young men and this is true. I believe we give you our boys and you also give him back his future and restore our family. We are forever grateful and thankful. God bless you and keep you, A St. John’s Family October 2009 PS. Again, thank you Mr. Browning- the process works!
Letter from a Gentleman impressed with St. John’s Cadets
The following is a letter received from a gentleman that happened to be in the same fast food restaurant with several St. John’s Cadets. He was incredibly gracious to take the time to send St. John’s an email to describe his impression of meeting them.
The other night I stopped off at a Mc Donald’s in Russell KS. Your cadets/students were in there also and I chatted with a couple of them. I just wanted to let you know how impressed I was with the way they conducted themselves. They were articulate and had excellent manners. They told me they had just finished playing a soccer game, but didn’t win. I think they are winners anyway! This is a rarity nowadays as I see most youth covered in tattoos with ill fitting clothes hanging off their tails. You are doing something great with these students and you should be commended. Sincerely, Name respectfully withheld by St. John’s