Since its beginnings in 1999, St. Bonaventure’s College in St. John’s, Newfoundland has developed into an award-winning school that prides itself on its spiritual formation and Christian service, and prides itself on its close-knit school community.
From kindergarten to Grade 12, St. Bonaventure’s College is a co-ed school whose Catholic identity is formed and shaped by the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Society of Jesus
College President Nina Beresford says they work to form students who are open to growth, intellectually competent, religious, loving and committed to doing justice.
The school gives its student many opportunities to develop these qualities. These opportunities range from its retreat program to its social justice program.
Whether in a primary grade or at the end of high school, students go an annual retreat, allowing them to reflect on their relationship with God, their family and their community.
She adds that their school has a strong Christian Service and Social Justice Program.
“The commitment to justice and service for others is a hallmark of Jesuit education,” she explains. “Our graduates will have begun to acquire the understanding, skills, and motivation necessary to live as ‘men and women for others’.”
From volunteering at an outreach community centre to organizing ecological projects, St. Bonaventure students get ample opportunities to fulfill their Christian service to the community.
Students in Grades 11 and 12 are required to complete 32 to 40 hours of Christian service as a graduation requirement and students in other grades are also given opportunities to participate in service projects.
As well, the school’s student-led Social Justice Committee spearheads events that raise funds for those in the local and global community who are less fortunate. For four years they have raised funds to build three homes in Haiti and to provide much needed medical supplies. Each Christmas they participate in Operation Christmas Child by filling hundreds of shoe boxes for children in third-world countries. This year, Grade 12 student Emily Felix will travel to Tanzania, Africa and work at the Forever Angels Orphanage in support of Free the Children program. The school community will help her raise funds to buy much needed milk and diapers for the infant children she will work with while there.
Nina says it is for these reasons that parents choose to send their children to St. Bonaventure’s College.
“Parents and staff realize the importance of our children being grounded with strong moral values and principals,” explains Nina. “They also realize the value of children in today’s society having an opportunity to develop their own personal spirituality, learn to care for and respect others, learn how to develop their gifts and talents to help and support others who are marginalized and in need, and develop the leadership confidence to make sound choices which will help create a more just world. This is how Gospel values can be manifest in the world today and make a real difference.”
She adds that what the students live and learn at St. Bonaventure’s College will go with them wherever the world takes them.
“Our hope is that they, as tomorrow’s leaders, they will always leave a very positive mark on those they encounter and make wise and just decisions that will bring about valuable changes in our world,” explains Nina.
Because St. Bonaventure’s is an independent school and receives no support or funding from the provincial government, the school community has to support all of its needs through its annual tuition fees and fundraising events.
Nine explains that tuition covers the school’s operation costs, which means any capital improvement costs requires additional fundraising. This year they executed a creative idea, the Apple-A-Day Lottery. This lottery had them draw winners of Apple iPads – 1 for day 1, 2 on day 2, 3 on day 3, 4 on day 4 and a full Apple package on Day 5.
“It was a successful fundraiser and all funds will be directed to the outlined projects for this year,” says Nina.
As part of its mission and mandate as a Jesuit school, the school community also raises a significant amount of funds each year to support families who need assistance in paying their children’s tuition fees. Included in these are funds received through CCSTA’s Tuition for Tuition Fund.
“These funds are raised and distributed confidentially to those families who express a need,” explains Nina. “To support this program, we hold an annual dinner and auction, accept donations from groups, individuals and through the SBC 150 Club.”
From its service program to its fundraising efforts, it’s no wonder St. Bonaventure’s College has developed into the close-knit community it is today.
Learn more about St. Bonaventure’s at stbons.com or follow them on Twitter at @STBONAVENTURES