High school should be a transformative experience in every possible sense; academically, physically and emotionally, with the goal to develop quality human beings. St. Augustine Preparatory School in Richland understands this responsibility and invites students to “enter as boys to learn” and “exit as men to serve.”
The sign at the entrance of the school caught the attention of Peter Panageas and his wife, Marianne. The couple, along with their son, Brenden (class of 2019), were on the last of many tours through various top-tier institutions in South Jersey and Philadelphia. St. Augustine, however, felt different from the moment they stepped onto the 118-acre campus. The message of entering as boys to learn but leaving as men to serve resonated with the family, as they were interested in finding the best fit for Brenden to have a strong foundation—not only for college— but for the rest of his life.
“The whole experience at St. Augustine Prep is about developing young men who are not only prepared for higher education but for life in general,” says Panageas, whose son is now a freshman computer science major at Loyola University in Maryland. “It’s not only about academics but also how they can give back to the community, how the spirit of God can influence their lives for the better and how these young men can ultimately be- come leaders. Every step of the way, those missions were upheld as I witnessed Brenden’s development during his four years at St. Augustine.”
Father Robert J. Murray, O.S.A, Ph.D., head of school at St. Augustine Prep, says the four-year Roman Catholic college preparatory school, founded upon the principles of the fourth century saint, St. Augustine of Hippo, continues the tradition of teaching that individuals are best built through servant leadership. The students refer to it as the “Hermit Brotherhood,” and that tight bond is one of the ways in which the school is unique. This theme of brotherhood carries through to the classroom where the educational experience is highly personalized and the faculty demonstrate how much they care about their students. Father Murray also indicates the school’s mission is about the community beyond the confines of the Richland-based campus. The primary goal is to produce men who will ultimately leave the campus to become servant leaders in the “real world.”
“The core values of the school are Veritas, Unitas and Caritas, which is Latin for Truth, Unity and Love,” explains Father Murray. “What these values support is the importance of serving others. Our ‘Caritas Program’ is a 100-hour service project that students typically complete in the summer prior to their senior year. The projects involve service to the community and have ranged from choral performances at local nursing homes, events with the Special Olympics, to providing assistance at area soup kitchens, just to name a few.”
In addition, Father Murray says the students also participate in Third Semester, a special academic offering which fosters empathy and global engagement. The unique program is an immersive experiential learning endeavor which allows students the opportunity to extend the classroom to every corner of the planet. Father Murray proudly states this as another vehicle the school utilizes in order to emphasize learning and character development are both ongoing, lifelong experiences.
“We firmly believe education does not solely occur in the classroom,” says Father Murray. “It happens in the dining hall, on the sports field, on the stage and in the chapel.”
At St. Augustine Prep, students have ample opportunities to excel outside of the classroom. The school offers 22 varsity-level sports and over 40 clubs and co-curricular activities—in fact, 96 percent of the student body participates on an annual basis. Throughout, the themes of brotherhood and servant leadership are prevalent in all of the school’s co-curricular offerings.
“The lifetime of brotherhood is a rare and unique thing,” says Panageas. “When I remember graduation and the students locked arm in arm singing the alma mater, I still get chills. The school does a fantastic job of teaching these young men what it means to be there for one another—and what community is all about.”
St. Augustine Preparatory School
611 Cedar Ave. | Richland
(856) 697-2600 | Hermits.com
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 7 (September 2019).
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