Tony and Anne Luna
Tony and Anne Luna have a child at Martin Saints Classical High School in Oreland, Pennsylvania.
How long have you been at your school? What grades are your children in?
Our children are in two different schools. Our girls are in 4th and 7th grade at Regina Academy at St. John the Baptist (we have been there 7 years) and our son is at Martin Saints Classical High School in 10th grade. (He is in his second year there).
How did you learn about your school?
Divine Intervention. We were at a parish we had never set foot in before because Tony ended a men’s retreat weekend there and we met him so we could attend Mass together as a family. During the homily, the pastor announced that their parish school would be reopening in the fall with a new name (The Regina Academy at St. John the Baptist) and a new curriculum, Catholic classical. After Mass we were surprised to meet some people we knew who were handing out brochures explaining what a classical education is. We were intrigued and knew we had to give this new school serious consideration. After a few months of discernment, we decided to transfer our children to RA@SJB. Our experience there was so fruitful we wanted to continue the classical path into high school. So when we heard through the grapevine that a new classical Catholic high school was opening, Martin Saints Classical quickly became our first choice for our children’s secondary education.
Why is it worth paying tuition when public schools are free?
It is worth paying tuition because as parents raising our children with a Catholic worldview, we know that when our children leave our front door and enter the front door of their respective schools, the teaching the are receiving is seamless. In addition, the culture our children are immersed in on a daily basis is absolutely priceless (see answers below).
What made you choose your school over other schools in your area?
It was the 5 C’s of Martin Saints Classical that made us choose them for our son’s education:
Cost - Lowest cost compared to other Catholic schools
Class size - Intimate small school setting; our son gets to know his peers and teachers on level simply not possible in a larger school
Classical Education - our son is being taught how to think. Teenagers naturally want to argue. My son argues well. ;-)
Catholic Education - Catholic worldview in the home and classroom is seamless.
Culture - When you take the above 4 Cs, put them in a bowl, mix them up and bake ’em - you get the best tasting culture you can ever imagine for your child(ren). Indeed, classical education teaches students what is good, true and beautiful. Some may argue this is not the real world - and that in the real world there is much that is untrue, good, and downright ugly. Martin Saints does not avoid the outside world. In fact, Martin Saints purposely builds experiential learning opportunities out in the world that include Corporal Works of Mercy to those who are hurting/in need in the world (senior citizens, moms in crisis with their pregnancy and those who are homeless). One outing allowed the students to prepare meals for the homeless and then go out into the streets of Philadelphia and feed those who were hungry and indeed offer to pray with them on the street. In this way, students face the pain and suffering in the outside world and are inspired to bring their faith through the light of Christ to those who are suffering. This is what Jesus did. And this is what Martin Saints is teaching our son to do.
How would you describe your school to a parent who is considering applying?
We would say if you are looking for a school that teaches your child the fruits of the Holy Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, then Martin Saints Classical School is the school for them.
What are your thoughts on your school’s teachers? Your children’s peer group and other school families? Catholic identity? Culture? Curriculum?
Just before our “Divine Intervention” that caused us to transfer our children to a classical Catholic school we read two Matthew Kelly books. One was entitled The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. In the book, Kelly posits that if just 1% more of Catholics invested more of themselves in serious spiritual development each year….we would transform the world. We suddenly started imagining what that world would look like and asking how we could in our own small way be a part of getting that 1% ball rolling. Classical catholic schools seemed like a great way to help form our whole family into more dynamic Catholics.
The other book we read by Kelly was about the importance of culture in any organization. The one tag-line takeaway we often still quote is, “Culture is King.” We came to recognize clearly based on our own experiences that whether it be work, school, church or home, the culture set by the leadership is the root from which every success or failure stems.
So we have been a part of two classical Catholic school cultures in recent years. Regina Academy at St. John the Baptist transitioned from a parish school to a classical school over several years. Martin Saints Classical High School started new, built from the ground by a few founding families. Transitioning from the old or starting totally new—each had different pros and cons, but to speak specifically about Martin Saints, there is something very special about being part of shaping the culture of a new school. Martin Saints strives to be a “family of families” with the inspiration of the Martin family Saints, Saint Therese of Liseiux and her parents Louis and Zelie Martin as our role models. Each student, each family, shares their gifts and inspirations to help build our school. The result is a sense of respect, joy, hard work, and pursuit of excellence that is apparent when visiting the school and interacting with the students and faculty. This is why we think if culture is king... Martin Saints Classical High School has created quite a culture crown!
The Catholic classical curriculum also helps to ensure that the teachers will reflect a consistent Catholic world view. They have to because Catholicism is woven throughout every subject. I can’t imagine how anyone who wasn’t enthusiastically Catholic could teach in this program. It would probably be painful! On the contrary, we have found that joy-filled, dynamic, interesting people, beaming with the faith, are drawn to this type of teaching. And so many of our children’s teachers have told us that they have found such freedom and joy in the way the classical approach to education allows them to relate different subjects and encourage children to question, wonder, and critically reason. They love the rich classic texts and the tried and true methodologies that allow young children to master basic skills without frustration.
What is the most important reason you stay at your school?
Where else would we go? They have the words of eternal life. :-)