When Jesus said in the Gospels, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10), St. John Paul II and G. K. Chesterton made proclaiming this truth their life mission — a mission which the Chesterton Schools Network shares.
Inspired by the examples of these two greatly learned and deeply faithful men, the Chesterton Schools Network launched in 2008 and opened an Academy in Milwaukee in 2016. This year, Chesterton Academy of Milwaukee becomes the 16th Catholic high school in the archdiocese.
“It is an incredible joy to be recognized by our archbishop as a Catholic school in the archdiocese. This has been many years of prayer and hard work in the making, and we are so incredibly blessed by the warm welcome we have received,” Headmaster Eric DeMeuse said.
“In particular, we are grateful to Dr. Kathleen Cepelka and Bruce Varick for their tireless assistance throughout this process, and to Archbishop (Jerome E.) Listecki for his recognition, support and guidance. We are excited to join the community of Catholic educators in the archdiocese and to both learn from and contribute to this community.”
Emphasizing intellectual, spiritual and character development, the Socratic Method and curriculum integration distinguish Chesterton Academy from other Catholic high schools. “We have found that when students learn this way, they not only retain knowledge better, but — and far more importantly —they love what they learn,” DeMeuse explained.
As a “joyfully Catholic, classical high school,” the academy focuses foremost on enabling students to come to know, love and serve God. The school day is punctuated by daily Mass, a morning offering, the Angelus and a Glory Be at the end.
This year, around 30 students will attend Chesterton, as it welcomes its largest freshman class yet. In addition to academic focuses found at other Catholic high schools, Chesterton Academy includes courses in composition and rhetoric, philosophy and Latin. Students study the likes of Chaucer, Goethe, Rousseau, etc., and have the opportunity to learn specific art forms, such as calligraphy and ancient art history in addition to participating in the House System, which “teaches the students what St. Paul taught the early Christians: ‘If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together,’(1 Cor. 12:26)” DeMeuse said.
Amongst the faculty, he explained, we “embrace a model of discipleship with our students … like the apostles, the first goal is to establish a faculty-community centered on Jesus Christ, and then invite the students to share in the life of this community.”
“As one student recently put it, ‘this school is like a family.’”
Just as St. John Paul II and G. K. Chesterton continued asking questions throughout their life, Chesterton Academy seeks to instill and foster that same sense of wonder in its students. “Wonder breeds creativity,” DeMeuse said. And both are required to fulfill the mission of the two men who inspired the Academy, the mission of the Church and the archdiocese.