The Heart & Soul of St. John's Regional Catholic School

A Quality Education Rooted in Academic Success and Character Development

Article by Lara Schumacher

Photography by Marie Rose Photography

Originally published in Frederick Lifestyle

For over 194 years, Catholic education has been provided in Frederick County under the name St. John. Originally founded in 1829, the school was given a regional designation by the
Archdiocese of Baltimore in 1991, renamed St. John Regional Catholic School (SJRCS) and serves eight local and growing parishes. In 2005, SJRCS opened a new 27-acre campus near Fort
Detrick to provide modern classrooms and technology for students in grades Pre-K 3 through eighth grade.

A two-time recipient of the National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence award by the United States Department of Education, SJRCS works to “Inspire One Child at A Time” by fostering future leaders through academic excellence, Christian virtues and hearts seeking to serve.

“There is a deep beauty in our school community; we often see former students enroll their children and grandchildren. However, just like our beloved county, we’ve seen tremendous growth with new families becoming valued members of our community,” stated new Principal, Mrs. Kim Hanner.

“As a school community, we’re focused on each student, ensuring they receive a quality education rooted in both academic success and character development," shared Dr. Annette Jones, out-going principal. Under the leadership of Dr. Jones and Mr. Randy Lapcevich, SJRCS launched a new leadership program entitled “The Heart of Leadership’ which builds on Sean Covey’s 7 Habits of Happy Kids and 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens with Virtues in
, developed by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in a program studied at every grade level for three rolling years. Melding virtues and leadership remains a focus for SJRCS, and the
program is infused into the religious curriculum.  

Classes are purposely kept small. “We seek to keep our classrooms to twenty-three students, with occasional exceptions,” said Dr. Annette Jones. “Studies have shown that smaller classroom sizes provide students with more individualized attention, an emphasis on academic excellence, better classroom management and increased student participation.”

SJRCS continues to celebrate ethnic diversity within its student family community, reaching 40% during the 2022-2023 school year.  Students also represent diverse religious affiliations
including Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Islamic faiths from Frederick County, West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

“As a school community, we are welcoming and inclusive while still maintaining our Catholic identity,” stated Principal Hanner.

Students, also known as Wildcats, become confident critical thinkers through their involvement in problem-solving STEM projects. Every student has access to technology throughout the
school day, and each classroom is equipped with an interactive BEN-Q touchscreen, which allow teachers to build internet-enabled lessons.  “Our students are encouraged to work collaboratively and our technology allows them to do so in every subject throughout their school day,” stated Mrs. Hanner.

Dr. Jones explained, “While we prepare our students for the future, what sets our school apart is the beautiful community."

Mrs. Hanner echoed the same, stating “our parents are critical to the school’s success; they’re active participants in their children’s education, our service projects and fun social events.”

The Home and School Association (HSA) provides opportunities for community-building events throughout the year. “It has been a joy to work with the HSA this past year. As the school continues to grow, the HSA has done an exceptional job providing opportunities
for families to feel like members of a close knit community," emphasized Assistant Principal Christina Dabulskis. "The HSA has worked long hours to put on events such as Breakfast with
Santa, which served over 400 members, the Father-Daughter Dance and the Mother-Son Bowling Night. They put together the best events!”

Wildcat parents also creatively support student service projects. “Our Catholic School Week Committee organized a cereal box donation drive that provided the Frederick Food Bank with
over 2,000 boxes!  Parents organized an epic cereal box dominoes game throughout the entire school building so that all of our community could celebrate in the joy of their service to others,” shared Assistant Principal Kelly Weeks.

Together, Dr. Jones, and then Assistant-Principal Mrs. Hanner, worked to open the largest private school in Frederick County during the pandemic. “We had already been using Google Classroom when Covid precautions mandated school closings,” Mrs. Hanner explained. “Since technology was already integrated within the classrooms, we just had to initiate Zoom. The students were ready because they were experienced with a technology-integrated curriculum.”

Dr. Jones and Mrs. Hanner’s management of face-to-face learning within Covid mandates, word of mouth and a reputation of excellence has brought growth to SJRCS. From 2020 to 2023, end
of year enrollment grew from 420 to 633. “Our school grew to a three-track school, meaning that each grade from Pre-K 4 through 8th grade has three homerooms,” stated Dr. Jones.
recently ranked St. John’s Regional Catholic School as one of best private schools in the United States.

“We greatly appreciate the leadership and insight of our teachers, staff, school board and parish priests, as well,” said Jones. “With their guidance and leadership, SJRCS is strong and looks
confidently to the future.”  While Dr. Jones is leaving the role of principal in the capable hands of her former Assistant Principal, Kim Hanner, she will still be part of the larger school community as she serves as the new Associate Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

In June, the community celebrated the commencement of its 184th graduating class.  “As I watched my daughter receive her diploma, I could not be more grateful to SJRCS for their role in the formation of her faith, character development and academic achievement,” stated Andrew Schumacher.

The graduates of the class of 2023 and the entire St. John Regional Catholic School community are prepared and look with joy to the future.

“There is a deep beauty in our school community; we often see former students enroll their children and grandchildren. However, just like our beloved county, we’ve seen tremendous growth with new families becoming valued members of our community.”

- Principal, Mrs. Kim Hanner.

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