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  Sunday, November 2, 2008 

Pride / Cadets days are very structured from page B1 Wooten said many students come to St. John’s, having attended larger schools where they a hard time focusing or get lost in the shuffle of classrooms crowded with 30 or more students. The average student to teacher ratio at St. John’s is closer to 10 to 1, and sometimes is as low as 3 to 1. Though the school toughened its policies on hazing, she said, there is still a lot of interest by parents in the discipline that goes along with the structure of a military school. “Will boys get in fights once in a while? Absolutely,” she said. “Everything is investigated, and if it is determined it did happen, chances are the boy will no longer be here. I think our new barracks lends itself a lot better for closer supervision.” Somewhere in the 20 years Lysell was absent from the school, St. John’s lost its commitment to having recruiters travel extensively in search of new recruits, he said.

Here’s how we recruit Today the school has two full-time and two part-time admissions counselors. It’s focusing more heavily on alumni receptions that also help it generate referrals for new students. Wooten said this past summer there were receptions in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; Omaha, Neb.; Atlanta; and Denver, Grand Junction, Colo., and Colorado Springs, Colo. The school also has associates who work part-time recruiting in Arizona and California and some other western states, as well as someone else who works

Journal file photo

St. John’s Military School seniors proceed to the Freedom Tree during graduation ceremonies on the school’s campus.

“We ask some pretty specific questions about why they’re looking for a military school. We look at transcripts, we look at test scores, before we make a decision as to whether this would be the appropriate place for their boy to be educated.” Ginger Wooten, St. John’s Military School admissions and marketing director Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. “We actually draw, in any given year, between 30 and 40 percent of our cadets from Colorado,” Wooten said. This year among the cadets are 25 states and four foreign countries represented. “I’ve heard 140 to 170 kids for our break-even point,” Lysell said. “I use the mental figure of about 150, that’s when we can start putting some money back into (the endowment).”

One look at the whip

The specter of military school isn’t an easy prospect for all new recruits at the school to swallow. The first thing Ian Sitarik, 17, a senior from Longmont,

Colo. remembers about campus is seeing the bronze statue of the school’s mascot, a calvary mule skinner cracking his whip. “I saw the man with the whip, and I thought ‘I’m screwed.’ ” Sitarik said. He feared that his getting picked on as a seventhgrader at his old school was only going to get worse at St. John’s. “Then I started feeling better, started fitting in,” he said. “Because at this school, everybody dresses the same, everybody’s the same. There’s no division between the way you dress and the way you act.” Parents want to know about the school’s structure, what the rules are and what the consequences will

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be, Wooten said. They also want to be reassured about the school’s academic reputation and the well-being of their sons. “We ask some pretty specific questions about why they’re looking for a military school,” she said. “We look at transcripts, we look at test scores, before we make a decision as to whether this would be the appropriate place for their boy to be educated.” Of a group of eight St. John’s students interviewed for this story, most relayed stories about failing academically at their old schools and starting to fall in with the wrong crowd of friends. But by a show of hands, more than half replied they’re interested in applying for college to one of the nation’s military academies.

n Reporter David Clouston can be reached at 822-1403 or by e-mail at dclouston@

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Little idle time There’s little idle time at St. John’s for cadets to possibly get into trouble, but that same packed schedule also makes the school year go faster, Frank said. “Even the privates. They’ve always got something to do,” he said. Frank also agreed that having set studying times and fewer distractions — which comes with going to school away from home — have been good for his academic progress. “I was exactly the same way. I’d totally space out on my homework,” he said. “Everyone here is so family oriented. We take care of ourselves, no matter what.” That goes as well for outsiders who think all St. John’s students likely must be rejects from juvenile detention. “It’s really odd when you see a cadet getting picked on, off campus,” Frank said. “Then you see three or

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