Starting Up the Only All-Boys Catholic School in Oklahoma
By Donna Sue Berry
Photo Credit: Brycie Matthews Loepp
Is a boy capable of mastering himself? Discerning his God-given vocation? Leading his future family?
These days, in the teeth of an ideologically-driven U.S. education culture which has arguably hobbled many young men’s academic and leadership potential, even posing such questions seems impossible.
At the St. John Bosco Institute – the only Catholic boys’ school in the entire state of Oklahoma today– they believe it’s possible. Their mission, as stated, is a simple but a profoundly relevant one: the education of young men changes the world if it is directed toward the “end” of the student’s own existence; that is, his eternal salvation.
Hence the school’s motto reads, “Finis noster principium nostrum (Our end is our beginning).”
St. John Bosco Institute opened its doors in August, 2014, with a mission to educate boys ages 10-17 in a deeply Catholic way. In this interview with REGINA writer Donna Sue Berry, John Zapletal, Headmaster at the Institute, talks about his fledgling school – its hopes, its aspirations and its challenges.
Why Single Sex Education?
“We consider it our duty to educate not only because we have the ability to do so, but also because the good of our society depends upon it,” he explained. “It is indeed evident that our culture today lacks a certain direction in finding its way. Through solid educational practices reinforced with a litany of methods handed down to us by our Catholic faith, we intend to rise to the challenge of aiding humanity, albeit on a small scale, in its pursuit of cohesion and brotherly love.”
ST. JOHN BOSCO INSTITUTE HEADMASTER JOHN ZAPLETAL instructs students at the growing new school in Oklahoma.
ST JOHN BOSCO INSTITUTE IS BUILT ON THE AGE-OLD WISDOM OF SINGLE-SEX EDUCATION IN THE WEST, which has largely been tossed aside in the United States since the 1960s educational ‘revolution’ demanded co-education for all.
“OUR FOCUS IS TO CAPITALIZE ON THE WAYS BOYS LEARN BY INFUSING COMPETITION, WITHOUT DISTRACTIONS OR INHIBITIONS FROM THE CO-EDUCATIONAL SETTING. In so doing, we can ascertain how boys develop and incorporate the educational opportunities distinctly beneficial to boys,” he said. “Boys and girls learn at different levels and rates. Our purpose is to bring young men to understand their roles within the natural construct of order given to us by our Creator. The instruction and programs provide academic training that promote strong religious values, individual responsibility, and good citizenship.”
MORNING MASS WITH INSTITUTE TEACHERS and headmaster sets the tone for the entire day.
“OUR OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE FROM CATHOLIC SCHOOLS IN OKLAHOMA LIES IN THE FACT THAT WE ARE, I BELIEVE, THE ONLY BOYS SCHOOL IN THE STATE. However, our real difference is that our school day begins with daily Mass. Our purpose? First things first. Mass is the focus of our day. In this way, our boys learn that our Faith does not stop when we exit the Church doors. It is carried to the classroom and becomes a part of how our boys relate to their studies, their peers, and their teachers. Only then can they realize the serious nature of what life truly means as projected and expounded by the Divine Command to ‘go out and make disciples of all nations.’”
“ST. JOHN BOSCO KNEW THAT A HEALTHY BOY COULD ONLY BE DEFINED AS ONE WHO POSSESSED A HEALTHY SOUL. The students’ Mass participation serves as the foundation of the day and sets the proper order for a devout Catholic life. Boys can learn how to serve Mass through a separate program offered by the parish.”
A CLASSICAL, DEMANDING CURRICULUM: After Mass, the Institute’s academic day begins. The curriculum utilizes challenging, classic texts such as Saxon Math. Reading skills are developed with selected classic literature, intense writing assignments, and the Voyages in Grammar program. Religion is based on the Baltimore Catechism and supplemented through guided discussions from priests. Science and social studies programs are developed and taught with a Christian worldview.
ALSO, IT SHOULD BE NOTED, ST. JOHN BOSCO INSTITUTE EMPLOYS CATHOLIC TEACHERS EXCLUSIVELY. This allows the Catholic influence to permeate every aspect of their educational environment. The dedicated teachers who form the core of their faculty are joined by priests of the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) to help students deepen their understanding and commitment to the Catholic faith and to develop a solid grasp of all academic disciplines.
STREET HOCKEY IN THE SHADOW OF OKLAHOMA OIL DERRICKS: Authentically Catholic, rooted in Sacred Tradition, with a well-rounded curriculum, the St. John Bosco Institute strives to provide its students with the moral, intellectual, and physical foundations that men must have in a challenging world to become good citizens of both their Church and their country.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY OCCURS DAILY. Activities can range from soccer, to football, to street hockey and generally take place in the afternoon following academics. Students learn basic skills through team sports that translate to everyday life including: teamwork, competitiveness, handling adversity, humility in success, respect for opponents, and developing/maintaining fitness.
JOHN ZAPLETAL HAS THIS TO SAY SPECIFICALLY TO REGINA READERS, “For those who have had their interest piqued, I leave you with a final thought from our patron, St. John Bosco: ‘The Lord turns everything to the advantage of those who love Him.’ And so, together with Our Lady, Help of Christians, we ask Our Lord to bless the Institute for many years to come.”
No government funding
St. John Bosco receives no government funding for its all-important mission. The Institute’s income depends exclusively on tuition payments and donations from friends and benefactors. Donations of any amount go to meet the many needs of the school.
The Institute operates with the approval of Archbishop Paul Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City. Tuition is approximately $850 per semester. There are additional registration and materials fees. For specifics, please contact the Headmaster or visit their website
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