Best of the Decade: St. John’s Historic Moments

The 2010s has been a decade of great change and innovation, and St. John’s has not been immune to that change. We’ve also made some great moments of our own along the way. Here are some of the best St. John’s moments from the past 10 years.

The Cadet Corps Celebrates Its Centennial

In November 2015, St. John’s celebrated 100 years of its Cadet Corps program with a fundraiser gala at the JW Marriott downtown, where money was collected to support ongoing scholarships, as well as creating a Hall of Honor that tells the history of the Cadet Corps.

“It was the largest event in the history of the school – we had over 1,000 people,” said St. John’s President Jeffrey Mancabelli in a recent interview with The Sabre. “It spoke to us about how much that program is valued.”

Founded in 1915, St. John’s ran the program themselves before adopting the government-run JROTC program in 1980.

Kevin Plank Gives St. John’s The Largest Gift In School History

At the Cadet Corps Centennial gala, Kevin Plank, founder and then-CEO of Under Armour, announced that he would be donating $16 million to St. John’s, which remains the largest gift in the school’s 168-year history.

Plank graduated from St. John’s in 1990 after transferring from Georgetown Prep, and his gift helped establish the Entrepreneurial Center for Innovation and Social Impact, the Academic Support Center, and the now-under-construction Center for Performance and Leadership, among other services like tuition assistance and increased employment.

“I am committed to investing in education, entrepreneurship and promoting physical fitness in Baltimore and Washington, DC,” Plank said in a statement. “Providing great facilities, academics and programming to current and future students at St. John’s is just one very important part of that commitment.”

Mancabelli said that “it was a transformational gift, because when you look at all the different places that touched, his gift actually impacted the experience of every single student at the school.”

JROTC Program Becomes Cadet Corp Leadership Program

Another eventual effect of the centennial gala was the change from the government-run JROTC program to the Cadet Corp Leadership Program. Mancabelli said that after directly seeing the impact the program had, the SJC Board of Trustees began reviewing how the Cadet Corps students were taught and found that government restrictions were hindering the growth of enrollment, as well as the lessons St. John’s wanted to teach their students.

“Look at all these people that are so proud of this Cadet Corps program. Are we doing the best to secure its future for the next hundred years?” Mancabelli recalls considering. “And the answer was no.”

Mancabelli says that now, the Cadet Corps Leadership Program is more suited to the four pillars of the military program – character, leadership, health and wellness, and cadet culture – and has provided students with more experiential learning earlier on in their courses.

iPads Are Introduced To The Curriculum

In 2013, St. John’s underwent another ground-breaking change with the introduction of iPads into the school for no additional cost to families. Since then, Mancabelli and the faculty have found that “students are better connected to their teachers and have access to information through the learning management system,” which made the process more efficient and consistent. He has also seen “students…taking ownership of their own learning, and actually proactively helping others learn.”

“I think there are some distinct advantages that we were thinking about, and then there were byproducts or spin offs that we never thought about,” said Mancabelli.

The Donatelli Center Is Constructed

In 2015, St. John’s continued its campus expansion with the construction of the Donatelli Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, which includes two art studios, three classrooms, and three performance-based classrooms. Along with indoor renovations, Gletner Courtyard and the Donatelli Center’s green roof were constructed! The new performing arts classrooms have made a big difference in the lives of students and teachers alike. Mrs. Fernandez, director of vocal music at St. John’s, said: “The space is a delight! The natural light that floods in, combined with the ceiling height and balanced acoustics, makes it a wonderful place in which to sing.”

Brother Martin Retires

After 23 years of service to St. John’s, Bro. Martin Zewe retired in 2017. Between his arrival in 1994 and his retirement, the amount of students on campus more than doubled, and as English Department Chair and an Honors English teacher, he embraced iPad technology early into their introduction.

Mancabelli said that he was able to learn from Bro. Martin’s ability “to establish one of the most highly efficient and functioning classroom experiences, and doing it in a way where the students always knew that the goal of everything he did was to make them better.”

Bro. Mark Brown said that “he was a model teacher, you know, as every teacher should be. And in that way, he led by example. So he was someone who was very well respected by both the students and the faculty.”

As the first teacher to run the Testing Center, Bro. Martin saw almost all of the students every year, which made him well known on campus. “So when he did retire, it was something that was felt both by the faculty and the students, that this is a significant moment after his years at St. John’s,” Bro. Mark said.

Last month, Bro. Martin was presented with the President’s Medal, the highest award a student or teacher can receive from St. John’s. “He’s truly one of a kind,” Mancabelli said.

Football Wins First WCAC Championship In 28 Years

The 2017 football season was a magical year for St. John’s. For the first time in 23 years, they defeated DeMatha, 38-22, en route to an undefeated WCAC schedule. With the top seed in the playoffs, they won the rematch against the Stags 17-14 and advanced to the WCAC championship at the University of Maryland. Strong performances by Kevin Doyle ’18, now at the University of Arizona, and Keilan Robinson ’19, now at the University of Alabama, led St. John’s to a 30-7 victory, including a 20-point second half. The championship was the first since 1989 and defined the trend of the decade toward establishing St. John’s as a national program. They finished ranked 17th in USA Today’s national rankings and second in The Washington Post’s regional rankings.

Girls’ Basketball Reaches National Championship Appearance

The 2018-19 girls’ basketball team brought a different kind of national spotlight to Military Road, as soon-to-be Gatorade Player of the Year Azzi Fudd ’21, Malu Tshitenge-Mutombo ’19, and Carly Rivera ’19 led the Cadets to a 36-2 record, including three wins over nationally-ranked Bishop McNamara, a third-straight WCAC championship, a fourth-straight DCSAA championship, and a trip to the GEICO Nationals tournament in Brooklyn. They defeated Centennial (NV) 63-61, but fell to New Hope Academy (MD) 45-34 in the championship, finishing ranked third in USA Today. Overall, this decade featured five WCAC and five DCSAA titles for the girls’ basketball team.

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