Highlanders Claim State Rugby Championship!

Congratulations to the Highlanders of Gregory the Great Academy for their victory on May 19, when they won the Pennsylvania state rugby championship title. It is truly wonderful to see our school of 60 boys achieve so much facing off against enormous schools fielding athletes of talent and depth. There is something so powerful rooted in the brotherhood our school fosters and forms, allowing our students to rely on one another and succeed in a remarkable way. After long training throughout the hard winter months in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the team’s incredible dedication and hard work have reaped great reward.

The playoffs took place over a sunny, hot weekend on the campus of Penn State University Berks where the Highlanders first defeated St. Joseph’s Prep on Saturday by a score of 32-24 and then Cumberland Valley on Sunday by a score of 18-10. This is the third state title the Academy has won, the last being in 2017.

Many to the members of our community whose donations helped see that the practical needs of the team and coaching staff were met, as well as the fans from near and far who united with us at the weekend’s matches or by watching the live stream. Your prayers and enthusiasm were a source of great motivation and encouragement.

 

The complete set of photos can be viewed here.

 

Dr. Joseph Sladky Joins the Faculty

Dear Friends,

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Dr. Joseph Sladky, the newest member of our faculty. If ever there was a man of mirth ready and rearing to join our merry band, Joe Sladky is that man.

A graduate of Thomas Aquinas College, Dr. Sladky studied biology, chemistry, and physics in a pre-med program before deciding to change course and pursue graduate studies in history. He earned his Ph.D. in Modern European Church history at the Catholic University of America. His professional experience includes several years teaching middle school math and science at Northridge Preparatory School as well as working with inner-city youth in Chicago. 

In recent years, Dr. Sladky served on the founding faculty of Chelsea Academy in Front Royal, Virginia, and has also worked as an editor of The Digital Library of the Catholic Reformation. He and his wife, Jenny, have eight children, one of whom, his namesake, is a graduate of Gregory the Great Academy. In fact, at his son’s graduation, I remember Joe saying, with some seriousness, how much he envied his son for his experiences at Gregory the Great and how much he would love to enroll as a freshman. And then he burst into laughter.

Well, Dr. Sladky is officially enrolled, in a manner of speaking.

Dr. Sladky brings a passion for history with him, as well as keen interests in theology and the natural sciences. As we consider his assignments for next year, he is dusting off his Latin and anticipating how he might develop our history curriculum. We plan on keeping him busy, and he will no doubt bring a fresh leaven to our culture as our school continues to grow. (Speaking of culture, did I mention he is a cheesemonger?)

Please keep Dr. Sladky and his family in your prayers as they prepare for the big move from Front Royal to Scranton this summer. We are all looking forward to hearing his learning and his laughter in our classrooms, and we can certainly count on both in abundance, for again, Joe Sladky is that man. Welcome to our community, Dr. Sladky. We are honored to have you join the faculty of friends at Gregory the Great Academy.

In Christ,

 

 

Luke Culley

Graduation 2018 – Valedictorian Address

val_speech2018
by Maximillian George
Valedictorian – Class of 2018

Reverend Fathers, Faculty, Families, and Friends,

Thank you for being here today to witness my classmates and I graduate from Gregory the Great Academy. Now, I’ve been told that it’s a good idea to begin a speech with a joke. I know from experience however that I am not a particularly funny guy. So, looking for humorous inspiration, I turned to some funny people I know: my classmates. When writing this speech, I asked my class for their thoughts on this school, and I unexpectedly found something humorous from Matthew Davidson. Reflecting on life at this school, Matthew told me that life for a student at St. Gregory’s is often weird, impractical, and annoying. That is funny because it’s pretty true. We practice rugby in blizzards. We sing and juggle on street corners. We are used to living without hot water. However, Matthew went on to say this: “But when you leave, if you really attended, your soul is written on these walls and your heart is buried on that field.” That’s true, too. And the funny thing about this place is how important its strangeness turns out to be.

My class was both blessed and challenged to be the first senior class to complete a full year back in this building. Our time here has been hard, but those hardships have instilled in my class a deep love for this place. And though in a few minutes we will cross this stage and become alumni of Gregory the Great Academy, we will never truly leave. The lessons of truth revealed, the good friendships made, and the love of beauty which this school has given us will stay in our hearts and minds forever.

Classmates and friends, you will remember earlier this year that we read “The Song of Roland.” In between distracting Mr. Culley with carefully-calculated off-topic questions, we learned about the companionship of Roland and Oliver. In the old days of chivalry, boys would be brought up together, being educated and sharing hardships, resulting in a bond that is somehow deeper than friendship, a bond that will last a lifetime. I am proud to call all of you my companions. Through our years here, our class has grown from a rabble of unrelated individuals into a tight-knit group of brothers. Together we struggled, together we laughed through all that was weird, impractical, and annoying. You have all proven time and again to be loyal, unwavering friends—to be selfless, hard-working, trustworthy, joyful, spirited, and reverent. I am proud indeed, and humbled, too, to have soldiered with you.

I don’t know where the future will lead us. In just 23 days, we will all part in Rome and begin the next chapter of our lives. Some of us will go to college, others to work, and some to the military. Though I don’t know what the future holds, I am confident that we will all be happy because we have been happy with the responsibilities given to us at St. Gregory’s. We are ready. I thank all of you for the inestimable impact you have made on my life. Through you, I’ve learned to laugh at myself, to think for myself, and to learn how to stand up for myself. You awoke in me a love for good music and conversation, and most importantly, you have taught me the role of friendship in building up a friendship with Christ.

max2018On behalf of my class, I wish to thank and say goodbye to the faculty of Gregory the Great Academy. It has been truly inspiring to learn from all of you. I doubt any other institution can boast such an incredible group of people. With the sparse resources available, it is a legitimate miracle that you are able to keep this school running and provide probably the perfect place for boys to spend their formative years. I did a survey of my class asking them what they most admired about you, the faculty. Almost all of them said that they admired how the faculty seeks to build friendships with the students and genuinely cares for every student. I think that this is really what makes it possible for a somewhat and sometimes wild group of boys to learn to seek goodness, truth, and beauty in life. Your own lives are models of what you have taught us, and because of your friendship with us, we students strive to imitate you. Young guys could not hope to have better mentors.

Before we leave, my class would also like to offer some parting advice and insight to the classes below us—advice that arises out of an understanding we have gained during our time here. Students, no one needs to tell you that life here is often challenging, but the things in life which really matter often are. Remember that. All of you are part of a legacy and a story that began before you were born, and, God willing, will continue long after you are gone. Make your part in this legacy and this story worth remembering. On the rugby team, Coach van Beek is always reminding us to leave the number we borrow for the season in a better place. Think about what that means. Each of you has a duty to maintain and add to the life of Gregory the Great Academy. Don’t spend a single moment passively. Be active. No matter what you are asked to do, no matter how weird, or how impractical, or how annoying, do it in a spirit of humility and joy. You will see what happens if you do when you end up on this stage like we have today.

Something I found really helpful in realizing this for myself was to try and implement the five virtues of the rugby team into my life: high work-rate, discipline, sacrifice, focus, and courage. You will need these in your life, not just on the rugby pitch. The more you deny yourself and give yourself to your brothers and this school, the more you will fall in love with this place and the life it teaches us to lead. Give yourself over. Spend that extra five or ten minutes in the chapel every day. Pray for each other. Give yourself over for the greater glory of God.

Three years ago, I began my adventure at this school at Carpathian Village, crammed into a bunkhouse in the middle of nowhere with 60 guys, and it was weird, impractical, and annoying. That day, as my classmates and I ate undercooked potatoes and bread, I joined my friends in the epic of Gregory the Great Academy’s traveling school; because some things are worth doing for their own sake; and for our sakes as well, as it turns out. Using Mr. Fitzpatrick’s favorite “ship analogy,” the class of 2017 docked the ship, but this class re-established civilization here at our beloved school, where I have spent the most joyful time of my life. This place has not simply educated me, but has fostered in me a love of learning, taught me the value of hard work, given me the opportunity to develop deep friendships with my classmates, and provided me with an environment that supports and nourishes a relationship with Christ.

All too quickly, the adventure has come to an end, and now, my classmates and I must part ways from our school. Though at the end of our own journey, proud as we are to be alumni of St. Gregory’s, the memories and friendships we have made, together with the lessons we have learned, will remain with us always.

We have signed our souls on these walls. We have buried our hearts on that field.

Thank you.