Earlier this year, the Sixth Grade Academy kicked off its Altruism in Action program with a presentation by Sarah Kelley. She told the students about the transformative work of two companion organizations, Water of Life and Set Free Alliance. While spreading God’s message in India and Africa, Water of Life representatives found that it was difficult for people to understand God’s unconditional love when they lacked basic human needs, such as fresh water. By digging water wells, these missionaries realized that if they could provide clean drinking water, the people were more receptive to the message of God’s love.

At the same time, they learned that, sadly, many children in these countries were being taken from their families and forced into slavery, working in slate and brick mines. As a result, the Set Free Alliance was formed and began joining forces with Water of Life to address both issues. Now at the same time these villages begin to enjoy the life-giving benefits of clean water, their children are likewise enjoying a life-changing experience by being rescued from slavery, given medical attention, provided educational opportunities and given a chance to learn a trade as well.

(Click here for more on the Set Free Alliance.)

One of the trades being taught is tailoring; in learning to sew, young girls in the program use donated fabric to hand-sew these adorable stuffed elephants. They may look like simple stuffed animals, but they represent so much more. These elephants represent a new cycle of hope in India. Each elephant is handmade by a girl who has been rescued from slavery. By sewing these elephants, the younger girls are learning the trade of tailoring and the older ones are receiving income to be able to provide for themselves and their future families. What’s even more amazing is every girl who sews these elephants has decided to donate back a portion of their salary to make it possible to rescue their brothers and sisters in Christ who are still held in slavery.

(Click here for a blog post telling the story of
one of the girls who helps make the elephants.)

But that’s not even these elephants’ entire story! The money raised from the sale of the elephants will be used to drill wells to provide life-giving clean water to villages in India. This campaign was actually begun last year with the first Sixth Grade Academy class, which raised a lot of money for the cause. This year’s class is adding to it and will be selling these beautiful elephants until Christmas to raise money to dig a new well in India.

If you would like to help the Sixth-Graders meet their goal, you may purchase one (or more) elephants; the large ones are $15, and the small ones are $10. Just come to the Sixth Grade Academy (down the hall from the Achievement Center) and see one of the sixth-grade teachers.

Because of caring people like you, babies will live, children will be freed from slavery and receive an education, and God’s message of unconditional love will be shared person to person.


Brayden Renfrow scored 20 points to lead the SJCS middle school boys basketball team to a 53-41 victory over visiting Christ Church on Wednesday.

Johnny Jaraczewski added 11 points, Harrison Zinkann 10 and Michael Poinsette nine for the Knights.

Zinkann scored six of his 10 points in the third quarter, when the Knights turned a 24-18 halftime lead into a 40-27 advantage.

MS Girls

Jordan Pearse and Lola Kelly each scored five points, Taylor Scott and Ava Elder each scored four points and the SJCS middle school girls basketball team defeated Christ Church 19-16 on Wednesday.

St. Joe’s led 9-8 after three quarters, and Kelly scored all five of her points in the fourth quarter to help the Knights hold onto the lead.


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The SJCS varsity boys basketball team started slowly Tuesday night but came on strong and pulled away for a 33-18 victory over visiting Shannon Forest.

Ben Saunders scored eight of his 12 points in the second half for St. Joe’s, which outscored the Crusaders 20-9 after halftime.

Gannon Stockton and Daniel Watson each scored nine points for the Knights (3-1), who trailed 3-0 after the first quarter but led 13-9 by halftime.

Varsity Girls

Maddy Duwe scored 16 points and Emily Meade added 11 points, and the Knights rolled to a 61-4 victory.

Brittany Morris contributed eight points and Abby Seidel had six points for the Knights (3-1), who scored the first 20 points of the game.

JV Boys

Alex Gillespie scored 15 points and the Knights held on for a 33-30 victory over Shannon Forest to improve to 2-0.
Jack Murphy hit two free throws with 2.3 seconds left to make it 33-29 and help seal the win for St. Joe’s.

JV Girls

The Knights outscored Shannon Forest 22-2 in the second half and breezed to a 43-10 victory, evening their record at 1-1.

Salome Schmitt and Elaina Mulholland scored 10 points apiece to lead St. Joe’s. Clare McKinley added seven points, and Maria Hanson and Caroline Capelle each scored six points.


SJCS senior Ava Dobson finished second in the Foot Locker South Regional with a personal-best time of 16:54 Saturday morning at McAlpine Park in Charlotte.

As one of the Top 10 finishers, Ava qualified for the Foot Locker National Championships December 14 at Balboa Park in San Diego, Calif.

Ava also received an at-large invitation to compete in the Nike Cross Nationals Dec. 7 in Portland, Ore., but she declined the invitation.


St. Joseph’s Catholic School welcomed 173 sets of grandparents representing 220 students for our 14th annual Grandparents Day on Monday, November 25.

Grandparents were invited to arrive early if they wished to attend Mass. Immediately following Mass, all grandparents were welcomed in the gymnasium with beverages and a light breakfast and greeted by Headmaster Keith Kiser. They also heard from the heads of the Middle and High Schools, Mrs. Wanda Jaraczewski and Dr. Steven Jones, and Mr. Don Reichert spoke about his experience at St. Joe’s and the importance of supporting the school.

The students then arrived and had the opportunity to have photos taken with their grandparents and the opportunity to take them on a tour of the school.

Lunch and dessert were served in the gymnasium, and the group enjoyed a musical presentation by St. Joe’s Fine Arts students.

Thanks so much to the grandparents who joined us, to the many parent volunteers and to all the others who made this special day possible!


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Students in Mrs. Emily Weathers‘ AP Literature classes worked on performance projects by creating videos of selections from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”


Emory University junior Leah Saunders, a 2017 SJCS graduate, has been named to the 2019 Division III All-America First Team as chosen by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA).

The South Region Player of the Year and a four-time University Athletic Association Player of the Week, Saunders led Emory to the NCAA Division III national championship match, where the Eagles came up short in their bid to repeat, losing to Johns Hopkins. She was one of two Emory representatives on the All-Championship Team.

Saunders earned a berth on the NCAA Atlanta Regional all-tournament team and was selected to all-tourney squads this season at the Emory Classic (MVP), Emory Invitational (MVP) and the East-To-West Battle.

Click here for more on Saunders’ All-America honor and here for more on the championship match.


The SJCS Fine Arts Department’s spring musical this year will be Disney’s “High School Musical,” and the cast has been announced as follows:

The Jocks
Troy Bolton – Max Weaver
Chad Danforth – Alex Hoverath
Zeke Baylor – Ishan Lal
Jason – Ethan Montes
Other Jock:
Palmer Saad

The Thespians
Sharpay Evans – Meghan Malone
Ryan Evans – Lyle Jones
James – Palmer Saad
Susan – Colette Trocha
Cathy – Gabby Olewiler
Alan – Ethan Montes
Cyndra – Isabella Quick

Other Performance Arts kids:
Camille Ferguson
Pierce Jones
Olivia Montagano
Max Orbon
Jordan Plumblee
Alexa San

Girls BBall team:
Grace Betit
Katie Byrne
Jasmine Dunning
Tessa Kelly
Meghan Noonan
Domenica Strathern

The Brainiacs
Gabriella Montez – Madison Patrick
Taylor McKessie – Sarah Poteat
Martha Cox – Sarah Paguaga
Kratnoff – Annie Puckett
Other Brainiacs:
Chloe Bradley
Elliott Bradley
Albrecht Cardell
Sarah Morris

The Skater Dudes
Ripper – Emily Gushue
Mongo – Isabel Moran
Other Skater Dudes:
Jonathan Read
Amanda Schmidt

Other Students
Jack Scott – Gabe Lagleva
Kelsi Neilson – Margaret Coburn

Wildcat cheerleaders:
Olivia Montagano, Captain
Eden Breeze
Ellie Combs
Camille Ferguson
Ava Grace Hart
Karina Jimenez
Natalia Montes
Kate Noel

Ms. Darbus – Amber Purney
Coach Bolton – Joey Stansberry
Ms. Tenny – TBD

Performances will be April 2-5.

Congratulations to the cast!


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From November 20-23, 56 SJCS high school students joined 1,600 others from South Carolina in Columbia for the annual Youth in Government Conference.

St. Joseph’s had students participating in every aspect of the conference, including legislators, appeals attorney teams, multiple positions of leadership, lobbyists, a supreme court justice and candidates for office. Sophomores Camille Bradley and Maurena Supra ran for Comptroller General and Speaker of the House, respectively. While they were not successful in their campaign bids, they ran a solid and positive campaign.

Junior Ishan Lal, the current Youth Secretary of Education, ran for Youth Governor, the first SJCS student to do so, and was victorious! SJCS has its first YMCA Youth in Government Youth Governor. He was supported by the entire delegation and a core campaign staff.

Ishan also will also be representing the state of South Carolina YMCA YIG program as one of two S.C. students in Washington, D.C., this spring at National YIG Day, where he will meet with Congresspeople on the importance of YMCA YIG programs.

Other students recognized for their efforts at YIG were junior Lucina Frank, who received an Outstanding Statesman Award; sophomore Maurena Supra, who was appointed to attend the Committee on National Affairs; juniors Eliza Anderson and Emma Curran, who as an appeals team were selected to present the showcase trial, which they won, and they were selected to attend the National Judiciary Competition in Chicago this summer; and Jessica Gerac, who also was selected to attend the National Judiciary Competition this summer.

While many bill partners successfully got their bills passed out of committee and both chambers, only four legislative pairs achieved this and got the Youth Governor to sign their bills: seniors Jenna Maunsell and Elizabeth Tamura’s bill on anti-SLAPP legislation to protect free speech; juniors Abbey Elliott and Skylar Lewis’ bill on replacing plastic bags with biodegradable alternatives; junior Preston Norwood and sophomore Tyler Harvey’s bill on tax incentives for companies to move into low-income areas; and sophomores Abby Shafer and Sofia Cordi’s bill on not separating siblings in foster care.

SJCS graduate Kristen Kauffman (Class of 2016) received an Outstanding Resource Staffer Award.


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On Tuesday, November 19 and Thursday, November 21 in all of Mrs. Marla Palmer’s world history classes, students participated in a Historical “Speed Dating.”

In preparation, the students researched a historical figure from Ancient Greece or Rome and created a fake Facebook profile for those figures on paper. Then, during the class period, the students rotated around the room, telling others about their person and learning about other figures.


Nineteen St. Joseph’s Catholic School seniors out of a class of 102 (19%) currently meet the qualifications for the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship Early Award. The state of South Carolina changed the application process and timeline for the Palmetto Fellows program so that seniors now have until April 2010 to qualify for the Early Award. SJCS will release the names of the Early Award qualifiers in the spring of 2020 and the Late Award qualifiers in June of 2020.

Students met the Early Award requirements by maintaining the required cumulative South Carolina grade-point average and obtaining the required SAT and/or ACT score. Some seniors are still testing and may qualify for the Early Award at a later date, as well as the Late Award in June.

The Palmetto Scholarship recognizes academically talented South Carolina high school seniors and encourages these individuals to attend college in-state. Palmetto Fellows may receive scholarships of up to $6,700 during their first year of college. Sophomores, juniors and seniors may receive up to $7,500 per year.


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On Friday, November 8, SJCS middle school students were encouraged to invite a friend for a half day of classes and lunch.

A total of 47 students visited that day, and there were plenty of smiles on their faces throughout the morning and afternoon. Teachers had a lot going on that day, and both St. Joe’s students and their friends were having a lot of fun.

Thanks to all of those who made it a great day at SJCS!


SJCS sophomore Melina Norton made all-state with her performance in the Class 1A/2A/3A individual state tennis tournament.

Melina defeated Alexis DeLoach (the No. 1 player from Wade Hampton H.S. in Hampton, S.C.), 6-0, 6-1, and then defeated Ansley Cohen of Philip Simmons, 6-3, 6-2, before losing to the No. 1 seed, Bishop England’s Lily Woods.

Melina also made All-Region 1-2A, as did junior Julia Jacques. Julia was named the team’s MVP, and eighth-grader Grace Eilers was named the team’s Most Improved Player.


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This past weekend, the South Carolina Theatre Association Convention was held at Francis Marion University in Florence.

SCTA hosted the sixth annual Tech Olympics. Teams from schools across the state competed in six technical theatre events, in the areas of Lighting, Wardrobe, Stage Crew and Rigging. The events included: hanging and focusing a light, sewing a button, knot-tying, cable roll relay, wiring a cable and folding a drop.

At this year’s event, SJCS was represented by two teams: “Insert Name Here” (Sara Gushue, Emily Gushue, Ethan Montes, Isabel Moran and Helen Norton) and “The World’s Okayest Techies” (Philip Mosley, Carson Crockett, Alex Hoverath and Sarah Paguaga).

  • “The World’s Okayest Techies” placed 3rd in Cable Roll Relay
  • Sara Gushue placed 2nd in Sew a Button
  • Alex Hoverath placed 1st in Wiring a Cable
  • Philip Mosley placed 1st in Hanging and Focusing a Light (for the second year in a row?!)

Overall, for the fastest combined time in all six events, “The World’s Okayest Techies” placed 2nd in the state.

For the first year, the conference held a Broadway Lip-Sync Battle. Meghan Malone, Alice Norton, Sara Gushue, Ethan Montes and Alex Hoverath prepared a lip-sync of “Your Fault” from Into the Woods and placed 3rd.

The SJCS competition one-act, “Wait Wait … I Can Explain,” directed by Philip Mosely and Alice Norton, was acknowledged with All-Star Cast recognition given to Alex Hoverath and Sara Gushue.

St. Joe’s had three students participate in the audition and technical theatre portfolio process for S.C. college and university theatre programs. Among the 13 colleges in attendance, the students auditioning received a collective total of 19 callbacks.


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SJCS senior Ava Dobson set the girls cross country state record with her time of 16:58, leading the Knights to a second-place finish in the Class 1A/2A state meet Tuesday at the Springdale Race Course in Camden.

Ava, who signed last week with the University of North Carolina, won her third consecutive individual state championship and erased the previous record of 17:36 by Spring Valley’s Kate Niehaus in 2003.

St. Joe’s junior Caroline Linen was the state runner-up, finishing in 18:30 — the fourth-fastest time of the day among the girls. Junior Brigid Alvis finished 13th (20:32) and made all-state.

Freshman Karolina Montalvo, seventh-grader Lauren Kelly and juniors Emily Meade and Skylar Lewis also ran for the Knights, who finished second to Greer Middle College.

St. Joe’s had won 11 consecutive state championships, including nine straight in the South Carolina High School League.

Senior Brendan McTigue finished as state runner-up with a time of 16:09 and led the SJCS boys to a third-place finish.

Juniors Dylan (16:53) and Tristan McTigue (17:10) came in seventh and 12th, respectively, and also made the all-state team.

Senior Isaac Hine, junior Mark Hartig and sophomores David Branan and Lyle Jones also ran for the Knights, who had won four straight titles and six in the previous seven years.

Although both teams saw their championship streaks come to an end, it served as a reminder of just how impressive those streaks were. Congrats to both teams on yet another outstanding season!

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