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On the Horizon

ON the HORIZON: Value-Added Emerging Opportunities for Our Saints
 
This section provides cutting edge, emerging opportunities that build community, raise expectations, and invite our students to transcend into their fullest potential. Some are conceptual. Others are proven to be catalyzers. Few are funded, currently. We are always seeking a company, university, hospital, or kind-hearted benefactor to underwrite our students’ potential.
 
Project-based Learning - with Alum Mentors as Definers and Modelers of Entrepreneurial Success
Students dive into a real project under the facilitation of Mr. Dave Shriver – St. Joseph’s 73’ (Director of Technology and Economics teacher) and Mrs. Amber Schreiber 98‘ (Director of Alumni Relations). For example, we are receiving amazing ideas from Dimensional Innovations President (alum Tom Collins 95’, President) with regard to digital trophy cases, the conversion of the trophy hallway into the Saint Thomas Aquinas Hall of Honor with interactive kiosks, and revamping the main entry hallway to draw visitors into focal points – map their way throughout the school building. To assist in the process methodology, we have involved a corporate coach – Dr. Eileen Murphy, Ph.D. – out of Alexandria, VA. Dr. Murphy will work with students to empower them.
 
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Leadership Seminars (college graduate Level) Facilitated by the President, Dr. Fallon
Beginning in the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year, two levels of Leadership Seminars will be facilitated by Dr. Fallon. Leadership 100 (L100) addresses dynamic complexity, ambiguity, and indecisiveness when earning leadership from the led, attempting to lead, or when engaged in the act of leading. An intentional mix of 9th through 12th graders who apply for acceptance into the seminars have a “mid-term exam" of a high ropes challenge course and a final event of flying to Washington, DC, where they meet with a Kansas Senator or Representative to discuss leading at the Federal level. That evening, we dine with a Marine Corps General officer who speaks about leading in high-tempo situations. The advanced seminar, Leadership 200 has a prerequisite of completing L100. It is for students who have embraced the phenomenon of earning leadership from the led. L200 uses actual consulting materials from Dr. Fallon’s New York based consulting LLC. Students attend Chamber of Commerce events and symposia. A requirement for L200 participants is attending several Board meetings throughout the community. During every two-week meeting, we process the dynamics our participants witnessed and how leading did or failed to materialize. The final event for L200 is literally piloting a Cessna 172 aircraft! Participants quickly comprehend the analogies of acceleration, lift, drag, yaw, deciphering control tower “noise” and safely landing to efforts at leading. Both seminars are “pass/fail” but have the potential to earn 1 to three credits depending on the outcomes of using the Harvard Case Study method to tackle a real Saint Thomas Aquinas issue and present/defend solutions. According to leadership consult, author, and former Air Force General Dr. David Hall, “no one in the country is doing this level of student leader development.”

Composing Contemporary Christian Music
Among several efforts to seek and find Christ in each other, Saint Thomas Aquinas will sponsor student composing, producing, writing, playing, and performing contemporary Christian music. To make the effort enticing, the President is donating an American made acoustic guitar to the band or person to compose and perform an original contemporary Christian song that exalts our risen Christ in self and others. The hope is that students will develop a relationship with Christ through this process. The President’s donation is in loving memory of his sister, Ann, who lived in Hawaii, took care of local families by providing free legal defense and counseling (she was a lawyer), adopting feral dogs, taking them to the vet., and adopting them out to safe families. After years of battling cancer, Ann met Jesus face-to-face. The guitar strap has the yin-yang symbol on it. One of the President’s former students taught him the meaning of the symbol – always a little bad in the good and a little good in the bad. Sadly, that student died in 1997. Therefore, the guitar strap memorializes the student’s life. He was a gifted guitar player.
 
Hosting Funerals for Homeless Veterans
Faith without action is dead. Our students have taken the initiative to plan and conduct funeral Masses for veterans who are homeless and have no family. This dignified and patriotic effort allows Saint Thomas Aquinas students to hand this warrior back to Christ. Following burial in a Kansas National Cemetery, the flag that draped the veteran’s casket is returned to the students – the only family this brave warrior has. Students will ceremonially place the folded American flag upon a shelf in the Chapel – as a permanent reminder that our freedom was guaranteed, in part, by the sacrifices the veteran made on our behalf. The shelf was built by Mr. Eric Akin, our Director of Facilities. It is made of koa wood from Hawaii. Koa, in Hawaiian, means warrior. A plaque denotes the veteran’s information. This portion of the veteran recognition has been thoughtfully donated in recognition of Medal of Honor recipient, Colonel Merlyn Dethlefsen, U. S. Air Force, and is provided by the Allen Family Foundation.