photo of Max and Mason reading on bench

Brothers Max (8th grade) and Mason (5th grade) came to our Welcome Table to choose from the new books donated by KPMG and First Books. They found a bench on the campus where they could safely distance from others and read outdoors on a nice May day.

Dear Friends of the St. James School Community,

Ten weeks into a time that is testing us all, I see persistent pressures trying to push people down. I also see tremendous strength in people pushing back against the pressures, lifting together when the burdens are heavy, and pulling up others when they are down.

In that dynamic is the value of community, writ large.

You — our friends and donors — have enabled us to support our community by providing sustenance in the form of food on the table and spiritual nourishment. The need remains high. So we will continue our neighborhood outreach and food program, filling about 140 grocery bags daily, six days a week while Philadelphia is in the red phase; three days a week in the yellow phase.

But on June 4th at 6 pm, we will pause to celebrate our community during the Dr. Audrey Evans Scholarship Benefit, our 6th annual and 1st virtual edition of this event. “Imagine” is the theme, chosen last fall when none of us could have imagined what was to come. But “Imagine” still resonates, especially when paired with our tagline: “Strong Community Strong Future.”

It is so clear to me that the strength of our community bodes well for our future. In a strange way, our collective response to the coronavirus pandemic has made me even more optimistic about that.

When we gather virtually on June 4th, I will share with you the future our board of directors and leadership team began to imagine in 2017. I will tell you about the plans we have made and the momentum that has been building. I will invite you and all members of our community to participate in making this vision a reality for St. James School.

Until then, enjoy this good news:

  • We will continue accepting online orders of Di Bruno Bros. packages through the weekend until May 25thOrder online here. And while you’re at it, why not order a package for a friend or two and invite them to join us online June 4th!
  • We received a $25,000 grant from the PHL-COVID Fund, a partnership between the Philadelphia Foundation and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey that was launched to aid nonprofits.
  • Our Class of 2016 graduate Justin Best has received a full four-year scholarship to Ursinus University. Enjoy the interview with the irrepressible Justin below.

God bless you,

David Kasievich
Head of School

P.S. Would you like us to email you a reminder to tune in May 31st at 5 pm to join a Zoom event with Scholarship Benefit honoree Lorene Cary and two actors from her play My General TubmanClick here to request a reminder.


A Conversation with St. James School Graduate Justin Best

photo of Justin BestWe hear you won a full scholarship! Tell us about that.
I will be graduating from The City High School this spring. Then, I will be attending Ursinus University in the fall as an Abele Foundation Scholar. It’s an honor to know that award goes to high-achieving students who live the values of integrity, persistence and empowerment, and understand the importance of paying it forward to others.

How has the quarantine affected you?
My high school graduation – a moment I have looked forward to since freshman year – is pretty up in the air. They are trying to arrange something in July. I was supposed to go to Guatemala for the month of June on a Study Service Theology Trip, but of course that has been cancelled.

That’s a lot of disappointment. How are you coping?
I keep going by the thought that students all across the world are going through this with me. I am also a future thinker; I am not a worrier. I am focused on all that awaits me at college. I also feel an obligation to stay strong to inspire my classmates. I check in on them all the time to encourage them.

What are your ambitions for the future?
I plan to attend medical school. I want to be a doctor and work for FEMA so that I can travel all over the world to help people.

So a life of services is important to you?
It definitely is. That’s why I am a Junior Volunteer Firefighter at Yeadon Fire Company Station 16 and Barren Hill Fire Company Station 29.

Did St. James School prepare you for high school? 
ABSOLUTELY! I transferred in as an 8th grader when my mom could no longer afford the school I was at. I was incredibly sad and angry at first, but then I got so much attention and love that I loved St. James. I took advantage of being able to stay after school to get help with anything that I was having trouble with. I attended the Saturday Academic Clinics and I became very close with my teachers. All these things prepared me for high school.

Is there one thing you will never forget about 8th grade?
Until I went to St. James, I had never left North Philadelphia. I loved the field trips. My favorite was a trip to NYC, where my teachers made a huge detour to take me to visit Rescue 1, a legendary NYC fire house. I will never forget meeting the firemen and getting a tour.

Has our Graduate Support Team been helpful to you?
YES! They don’t let you go when you graduate. If they call to check on you and you don’t pick up, they keep calling you until you do. I am the first St. James student to go to Ursinus. I am hoping to be a connector between Ursinus and other St. James graduates.

Is St. James School still a part of your life?
St. James School has been such a blessing in my life. My sister, Skylar, is a 4th grader there now. She loves it, too! I know that the Graduate Support Team will be there for me while I am at Ursinus and I plan to use them to help me find the right medical school. I can’t wait to be able to give back by donating to St. James School and mentoring students!

How You Can Help Right Now

Pray for us, our students, families, staff and neighbors.

Purchase needed items from our Amazon Wish List, which Amazon will deliver to the school.

Make an online donation to our COVID-19 food program: examples of what your contribution can buy are:

$30 (box of oranges)     $75 (case of chicken)     $190 (case of cereal)
$300 (case of yogurt)     $575 (1 day of food)     $4,000 (1 week of food)

Deliver food directly to St. James School or drop items off at:

  • St. Christopher’s Church (226 Righters Mill Rd, Gladwyne, PA 19035). Large plastic bins marked “St. James School” are under the cloister walk between the school building and the church.
  • St. Alban’s Episcopal Church (3625 Chapel Road, Newtown Square, PA 19073). The church sanctuary is open from 11am to sundown each day, and the back pew is designated for St. James School. Donating items that need refrigeration? Call ahead to 571.429.1427.

Church leader? Invite Dave Kasievich to join your Sunday Mass via Zoom and/or to share information about St. James School needs for publication in your church bulletin. Reply to this email or call Dave at 215.226.1276 x108.

photo of bee hive and caution sign

The food-producing flora and fauna on our campus are flourishing this spring. Since only the resident staff is able to enjoy firsthand the chickens, bees and vegetable gardens, we asked our photographer to capture the scene so that we could share it with you.
Photo credit: Sarah Miller Photography
photo of raised garden beds and chicken coopphoto of Adirondack chairs
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