Class of 2019 students Geonna and Endiah ready to demonstrate their science lab "Cocoa Craters" for guests at the Scholarship Benefit.
Our Starry, Starry Night!
The atmosphere was celestial — dark paneled draping with strings of bulbs, glittered bowls with twinkling lights, cocktails pun-named "gin-terstellar & tonic" and "mars-garita," star stickers earned for visiting students' exhibits. It was a truly "An Interstellar Celebration" of the 5th Annual Dr. Audrey Evans Scholarship Benefit at The Union League of Philadelphia on June 4th. 

More than 300 guests — our largest gathering yet! — celebrated St. James School, learned about our integrated curriculum infused with science and technology, and recognized three honorees: Jay and Jo Ann Townsend, Derrick H. Pitts, Chief Astronomer, The Franklin Institute, and The People of St. Christopher's Church, Gladwyne, including The Rev. Dr. Hillary Raining.

Many guests interacted with student scientists who gave hands-on demonstrations about the scientific method and modeled meteorite collisions. Many also heard from members of our engineering club about their projects, such as robotics and coding.

Graduates of St. James School who are now in high school or embarking on post-secondary education mingled with guests and sold items made by hand in the Alumni Woodshop.

The evening's program started with seven diverse voices, each saying why "I am St. James School." We heard from event namesake and St. James co-founder Dr. Audrey Evans, who celebrated her 94th birthday this year and continues to be an advocate for our school.

Other "stars" included Tynae Drain, Class of 2016, who again served as MC. She shared how her whole family has benefited from St. James. Her younger brothers, Tyjiere and Tineef, are graduating from the 8th grade and a member of the first-ever 4th grade, respectively.

Last but not least, co-founder Father Sean Mullen led the live auction; over 70 donors pledged gifts towards scholarships, anywhere from $100 to $30,000. In total, the event raised $272,567 (to be exact) for scholarships — providing a holistic education to 9 students!

Thanks to all who made this possible; we couldn't have done this without you! It was a stellar evening and an out-of-this-world success!
Award presented to Derrick H. Pitts, Chief Astronomer, The Franklin Institute (center).
Award presented to Jay and Jo Ann Townsend (2nd & 3rd from right).
Award presented to St. Christopher's Church, Gladwyne, including The Rev. Dr. Hillary Raining (center).
Tynae Drain (Class of 2016) acted as our MC for the evening.
Our student scientists with teacher Nick Gurol and honoree Derrick Pitts.
Board member, Shenia Reddy and her daughter, Sydnee (Class of 2015), in the photo booth. 
Next Stop: High School
For our graduating 8th graders, the transition to high school is a huge milestone — both exciting, and a little scary. To help prepare students for the next part of their journeys, we started a new tradition this year, with the graduating boys and girls taking part in separate retreats. The retreats gave the class a chance to step away from their everyday settings to reflect on their time at St. James, and share both their excitement and worries about the future.
The 8th grade girls gathered at the home of St. James volunteer Kathryn Miani for a day of intentional activities, led by The Rev. Canon Arlette Benoit Joseph, Associate Director of Graduate Support Mandisa John, and volunteer Allyson Ross. The agenda included prayer, meditation, creating vision boards, building stone sculptures and bee houses, and preparing a meal together. After lunch, the day ended with making positive affirmation jars so the students will be ready if they need a "pick me up.”
The 8th grade boys took a road trip to Norwich, VT with our chaplain, Father Andrew Kellner, Board member Steve Ross, and math teacher Annie Lerew. The class hiked on the famous Appalachian Trail and stayed overnight at St. Barnabas Church. The boys enjoyed lots of time in nature, visited an old-fashioned general store, played basketball, and gathered for prayer and reflection in the church.
A Word with Justin Best (Class of 2016)
Justin, 17, attends The City School. He has studied in Greece and is pictured in front of the Acropolis in Athens.

Fondest memory of St. James School: This is hard, I have so many. The top memory took place during the first marking period of 8th grade. I received President Obama’s Leadership Award for Academic Excellence. It was such an honor and a memory I will cherish. I often think to myself, how many kids in my neighborhood have such an opportunity? The other was to serve as co-host at St. James School’s annual Scholarship Benefit. A fancy event, so many different people, and I was the host. It was a really big opportunity for me.

Why is St. James School needed in your neighborhood? St. James is different. The school provides a lot of mentoring, many meals per day, a stable and safe environment. It is away from negative influences and students get to meet a lot of different people. I need this and kids in our neighborhood need this type of education.

You said that St. James expanded your view of the world. How? In a world where black and white people stay with their own, St. James is a mix of both. We all learn from each other. St. James also expanded my experiences. For years I looked at the Schuylkill River or drove over it. Never did I imagine that I would canoe on the river! From building relationships with kids who are different from me, to robotics club, to field trips every week, my view expanded beyond my street.

What was at the heart of the St. James difference? Definitely relationships! The teachers pushed me hard. I didn’t like it at all. I pushed back, sometimes unfairly. Thank God they pushed me. Mr. Joyce, Ms. Hopkins, Ms. Dimery, Ms. Lerew, Mr. Kasievich, Mr. Austin, Mr. Thompson, Father Kellner, and many more pushed me! They warned me that high school was the real deal. They were right! The relationships with teachers at St. James made me who I am today.

What was Greece like? The City School is providing me the opportunity to expand my horizons even more! Greece changed me. There is an entire world out there to explore beyond my street. Everything was different…flying above the clouds, swimming with fish, crystal clear water, the texture of their sand, language differences, windows down on trains, the architecture, the food, etc. I am inspired to see the world.

What is your message to current St. James students? Stop pushing back with the teachers. What they are pushing you to do will make a difference. You don’t see it now but trust me! Do all of your work, ask questions, stop fooling around and start thinking about your future instead of after school. Reflect on what the teachers are saying. Hit the books hard and take full advantage of Mr. Todd, Ms. John, and Mr. Austin.

What’s next for you? One more year at The City School, then I want to study biology in college and then go to medical school. In between, I will become an EMT and volunteer in helping others as much as I can. I want to do good as a citizen, I want to be a good friend, I want to be a good person, I want to grow emotionally, mentally, academically…..balance though!
In Our Own Words: House Benevolentia
At its last House Meeting of the year, House Benevolentia gathered for a beloved tradition: the 8th Grade Send Off. Beforehand, the 5th, 6th and 7th graders wrote letters to the graduating 8th graders, showing appreciation for their leadership and friendship, and wishing them success in high school. The 8th graders then shared words of wisdom and fun memories with their lower school peers.

Kayla, graduating 8th grader, shared her advice to, “Always look forward, work hard and play later, and enjoy every house meeting!” Neiman, 6th grader, read a letter to Samir, graduating 8th grader, sharing how much he appreciated Samir’s friendship both in school and on the basketball court, and thanking Samir for making his transition to St. James School easier.

Congratulations to our 8th grade Benevolentia graduates Geonna, Kayla, Samir and Eyoni — we wish you the best!
One Way You Can Help This Week!
Summer Camp costs $750 per student and we need your help to send all 85 students! For St. James students, learning and FUN don’t stop after school ends. We provide an extended academic program and offer camps, including 3 weeks of STEAM academy, sports and field trips, and 1 week of overnight camp at NorthBay Adventure Camp on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.
Will you meet the challenge so we can reach our goal?
St. James School is a faith-based Philadelphia middle school in the Episcopal tradition, committed to educating traditionally underresourced students in a nurturing environment. The school is a community that provides a challenging academic program and encourages the development of the moral, spiritual, intellectual, physical and creative gifts in its students.
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