Our Future is Bright
Fifty years ago this spring, I was the brand new Headmaster of an unproven school, struggling to fill seats. My brother monks asked daily, “How’s admissions going?” I always responded, “Like gangbusters!” no matter how bad the situation. Then, I’d find an excuse to slip away to make another round of phone calls or visits to talk up our new school venture. By the time July 2, 1973 rolled around, the date of our first Convocation and Summer Phase, there were 80 kids enrolled in Grades 9-11. A far cry from the 500-plus Gray Bees who attended in Benedict’s heyday, but it was a start.
In 2023, our circumstances have vastly changed. There are nearly 950 kids in our care, from the youngest saints in the Elementary Division, to the co-ed Middle Division and single sex Girls and Boys Prep Divisions. Our facilities are stretched beyond capacity. The lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that kids need even more experiential learning, not less. Given our extraordinary growth and commitment to accompanying kids from in and around Newark, St. Benedict’s has reached another crossroads in its history.
Which brings me to Rooted Forward: The Strategic Plan for St. Benedict’s Prep, approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees earlier in the academic year. The plan outlines a foundational strategy to strengthen St. Benedict’s Prep and encompasses priorities and lines of effort that will inform our decision-making and drive progress over the next few years. I urge you to read the cover story detailing some of the work already underway.
Everyone in our community has a stake in the success of Rooted Forward. If you feel strongly that future Gray Bees get the same opportunities you did, familiarize yourself with strategic plan initiatives that will ensure our traditions and legacy continue. If you’ve wondered why fundraising appeals land so frequently in your inbox, review the section on our financial model to understand how a larger endowment will strengthen finances. If you want St. Benedict’s to be an even better Benedict’s for your kids and grandkids, support the people and programs shaping the future of this institution.
Worthy achievements are never easy. Rooted Forward compels us to tackle enormous challenges and opportunities in the days ahead. Most of you know me as pragmatic, yet I’m incredibly optimistic about our community’s ability to come together and do hard things. We do it every day. That’s how I can say with great certainty, “Our future is bright.”
Fr. Edwin Leahy, O.S.B.