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Sioux Falls Catholic Schools

IGN TE Our Catholic experience,

from start to finish,

is a journey of faith.

IGN TE Our Catholic experience,

from start to finish,

is a journey of faith.

Dear SFCS Benefactors and Families, As parents, we want the best for our children, especially when it comes to education. Parents who choose Catholic schools do so because of the opportunity for their children to have faith infused into their education. As President of SFCS, I am incredibly proud of the great successes we are seeing, from our academics to our extra-curricular activities to service outreach. This publication is a celebration of our wonderful schools. Each has its own unique environment. We wanted to share with you a snapshot of some of the incredible things going on throughout our entire system. We are always challenging ourselves to look to the future and to continuously improve the educational opportunities that we are offering families. When you look to the page on the right — and throughout this publication — you will see that our long tradition of academic excellence remains while the expectations for our students continue to grow. The scores from our standardized tests allow us to compare ourselves on a local, state and national level… and the results are amazing! You are a part of this success. Thank you for all that you do. We appreciate the trust you have placed in us and want you to know that your support makes it possible to grow Catholic education opportunities and build a strong foundation for our students now, and for generations to come. May God continue to bless you and your family as you have blessed us.

President, SFCS



Ignite is published by the Sioux Falls Catholic Schools. Copyright © 2018

Charting SFCS Success Reading


Sioux Falls Catholic Schools have a longstanding reputation for traditional, academic excellence. The strength of our academic programs is in our ability to meet the needs of all learners. SFCS students consistently perform well above the local, state and national average on standardized tests.

National Percentile of NCE




83 77


80 80







Science 90





60 National Average




Sioux Falls Catholic School Grade 3-6 Proficiency

Grade 3

Grade 4

Grade 5

Grade 6

Terra Nova Multiple Assessments, April 2017


Eighty-nine (89) percent of SFCS 3rd – 6th grade students score proficient or advanced in reading and eighty-four (84) percent of SFCS students are proficient or advanced in math.

Reading Math



Level 1

In need of support


Percentage of students in each category 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%

Level 2

Nearing Proficient

Level 3




Level 4



At O’Gorman High School, 99% of the students took the ACT in 2017, receiving an average score of 25 on this national exam. In addition, 97% of O’Gorman students attend postsecondary education. Our students have an opportunity to take 57 college credits while still in high school, thus getting a jump start on their college education!

It is this strong foundation in our elementary schools that ensures our students will continue to succeed in junior high and high school!

ACT Scores

Percent of Studens Scoring 24 or Above Class of 2017 (99% Tested)

7th Grade ACT Aspire Spring 2017










South Dakota










60 50


40 30

38 31 31





37 30






English Reading Writing



National Average








St. Lambert School An Imprint of Faith

Fr. Young

There is a unique partnership in the Catholic Schools between families, staff and parishes, all working together to bring up children who are well educated in academics and their faith. Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than St. Lambert School. At St. Lambert, we are fortunate to have four priests from the parishes of St. Lambert, St. Therese and Our Lady of Guadalupe. We see them almost daily in our hallways, in the classrooms, on the playground, in the lunchroom and of course at Masses. Their involvement extends throughout many parts of the school beyond the weekly school Masses and weekly priest classroom visits. Of course, students enjoy seeing the various priests in their school and truly look forward to their visits. Said one, “I feel glad that Father comes because when the priest comes to our classroom, it’s like God can be in our room.” However, the visits extend beyond the requirements and that is what the students have really grown to appreciate and look forward to during the day. The 6th grade students love having Fr. Young join them every Friday for their spelling tests. They have found out he is a very good speller and this inspires them to try to beat his score. Fr. Young also goes into the 2nd grade classroom for Rocket Math, then stays to listen to Author Share where the students share their writing workshop stories. At report card time, you will find Fr. Young in every classroom handing out report cards and kind words. Students recognize the time commitment the priests make in visiting them. We don’t have to ask students if they enjoy the priest visits because it is already visible in their eyes and smiles, but when asked one 2nd grader said, “People have the choice to visit and listen to our stories and spend time with us and I’m glad they choose to spend time with us.”


“I feel glad that Father comes because when the priest comes to our classroom, it's like God can be in our room.” At times, the priests have become even more actively engaged, joining PE classes for the Pacer Test during the Fitness Testing Unit. The students love cheering them on and the priests have even made the “Wall of Fame” that hangs proudly in the gym. The priests are often called upon to do special things such as having Fr. Cowles read the Bilingual book Flutter & Hum. The children were amazed to learn one of their priests could speak Spanish. The students from Our Lady of Guadalupe were proud to have their priest visit and happy to hear him read in both English and Spanish. Fr. Scholten often eats lunch with the students and spends time on the playground as well. Even at a young age, students recognize the sense of community saying, “I feel like the priests really care about this school because they do activities with us.”

lten Fr. Scho

Fr. Cowles

Fr. Young

“The example our priests set helps the students understand priests can teach us a lot about our faith through talks and their example,” says Principal Colleen Davis. “Getting to know the priests also shows us they are people too with families, likes and dislikes. The children (and staff!) look forward to our priest visits and participation in the school.” One of the classroom teachers summed it up saying, “Seeing the priests means a lot to the children. They share their faith and ask Father questions without hesitation or judgment. They want to learn more about God and their faith. The priests bring happiness, life and faith to our classroom. I feel like we have the best priests — they truly care about kids and want to be with them. It’s wonderful to have and see.”

“What better person than a priest to help build bridges for our children than to have someone who has given their entire life to God?” If you ask the priests about the things they most enjoy about being a priest, they say it is spending time with the students. Fr. Young said, “On the days when things in the office just get too overwhelming, I go and visit the school. The love of the children will always bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart.” Fr. Scholten says he appreciates the feeling of being a rock star around the kids! The priests do agree that whatever they are able to share and bring to the students of St. Lambert School it never outweighs the many blessings and graces they receive in return. As one parent who chose a Catholic education for her children said, “What better person than a priest to help build bridges for our children than to have someone who has given their entire life to God?”


Holy Spirit School A Welcoming Community Bill and Tracee Beck grew up in small South Dakota communities and attended public schools that included students from kindergarten through high school. In these close knit communities they knew not only their classmates, but their classmates’ parents, siblings and their extended families. “Just as important, our teachers knew all the students, parents and family members and attended the same churches,” says Bill. The Becks started their children’s educations in the public schools in Sioux Falls. By the time their son reached 6th grade—the first year of middle school in the public system—they realized that the seamless community between church and school that they had enjoyed in small town South Dakota was missing, and if they did not make a change it wouldn’t be a part of their children’s experience. They began researching their options, hoping to find one that would give their kids an opportunity to grow up like they did, and found that opportunity in the Sioux Falls Catholic Schools. As in their hometowns, the Becks watched their kids get to know other students and teachers not only in the school setting but also in church on Sundays. As the Becks reflect upon their decision, their only regret is that they wished they would have made the move sooner. Although Holy Spirit School is a medium sized school with an enrollment of 360 students, you still get that small school feel. At the beginning of each school year, Principal Manning sets up small group luncheons with all of the new students. “These luncheons provide me with a wealth of information about all of my new students. I am able to learn so much about their interests, families and backgrounds which in turn helps me build a rapport with them,” Manning remarked. The luncheons also serve as a way for the new students to connect with each other and help ease the new student fears that sometimes accompany a move to a new school. Manning also works very hard to learn not only all of his students’ names, but also their parents’ and even their younger siblings’ names. “I feel it is very important that students are addressed on a first name basis. Each morning when students get dropped off at school, I greet them individually on a first name basis. At the beginning of each year I always get a chuckle when our new students’ parents seem surprised that I know their child’s name. Their first thought is that their child must have been in trouble and been in my office because the principal already knows their name.” Manning says he also tries to check in with the parents of his new students a few weeks into their transition just to see how the students and families are adjusting. The bonus for families with children in Holy Spirit School is that they not only see and visit with other school families at drop-off, pick-up and school functions, but get to see and visit with those same families on the weekends at Mass and at parish functions. The beautiful sense of a welcoming community is thriving at Holy Spirit School!


There was never a doubt the transition to Catholic school was th e right choice. Tiffany and I have be en actually converted an parishioners at Holy Spirit dating back pr d took RCIA classes at ior to getting marrie d. Tiffany Holy Spirit. Raegan and Bergen started their elemen tary education at Ro Falls Public School sy bert Fr ste public school system m is fantastic and we are fortunate to liv ost Elementary. The Sioux . The girls received th e in a city with such eir a strong called it “Wednesday School” at Holy Spiri religious education through Sunday scho t). As Raegen approa discussing as a family ol (they ch our kids’ options for middle school and hig ed middle school we began h school. Our family has alway s been into sports, so events to gauge each we began attending more Sioux Falls area sc sporting liked the size of O’Go hool’s ‘community ’. Tiffany and I both we rman as compared to nt to smaller high sc hools and the public high scho that O’G wasn’t just ols. We noticed mor a school, it was a faith e an -b school options, it wa s one of those rare tim ased community. As we continued to discu d more es that all four of us ag ss reed — O’G was our fir middle We made the switch st choice. to Holy Spirit when Ra egen was entering 6t 4th. It was a natural h grade and Bergen wa tim s entering and then move to O’ e to move Raegen. Rather than go to pu blic middle school fo G Junior High, (mov ing her) allowed her r one year school by finishing ele to ge m and they didn’t want entary at Holy Spirit. We did not want ou t familiar with the Catholic to be separated eithe r r, so Bergen moved at kids in two separate schools, th e same time. Initially, we were su rprised to find that they were a bit behin in the gifted progra d in their education m at Robert Frost, bu . Both were t sti Fortunately, they are good students and ca ll found the transition a challenge acad emically. ught on quickly. The The administration, te social transition was ac a breeze. attracted us to Catholi hers and students at Holy Spirit reinforce d th c school. There was ne right choice. ver a doubt the trans e sense of ‘community ’ that ition to Catholic scho ol was the Fast forward to toda y. Raegen is a freshm an at O’Gorman HS an All levels of Catholic d Berg scho continue to be impres ol education have been a blessing. We lov en is in 7th grade at OGJH. sed with the great th ed our time at Holy Sp ings achieved at OGJH experience with the irit. We high school. All along . And we are enjoyin g our first , we remain confident faith-based experienc with the level of educ e our kids are receivi ng. ation and While we continue to believe the Sioux Falls Public Schools are fa has proven to be a gr ntastic, the transition eat move for our fam to SFCS ily. Brendan and Tiffany Reilly


l HS


St. Mary


School 19

St. Mary

School to

The Legacy of St. Mary School: Families St. Mary School has a rich history of tradition dating back to 1949. The school opened with 69 students all taught by Presentation Sisters. Only a year later, all grades 1-8 were full, and at its peak during the baby boom, there were more than 600 students enrolled. With a current enrollment of 390 students, the school includes both young and established families. Many of the school’s parents are former students themselves; some of the students are 3rd generation St. Mary students, including the Schneider/Murphy clan, Hexamer/Hanson/Wilkens/Roose, Kappenman/Schuler/Felderman, Bohms and Hajek/Smith families. The Murphys are a 5th generation family if you include Cathedral High School, which was the Catholic high school before O’Gorman. Jean (Schneider) Murphy ‘71, the granddaughter of Catherine Ziegler Schneider ‘25, and grandmother of current students Grace and Joe, volunteered when her kids were in school by helping with class field trips and events. Now you’ll find “Grandma Jean” volunteering in the lunchroom. “I am grateful to have been a part of the Sioux Falls Catholic School Community as a student, mother, former school board member and today as a grandma. Attending St. Mary School allowed me to make faith a part of my daily life. That’s why Dan and I decided to send our four kids to Catholic School and why I continue to be involved today.”

1st generation Catherine (Ziegler) Schneider Cathedral HS ‘25

2nd generation James Schneider Cathedral HS ‘47


3rd generation Jean (Schneider) Murphy & Dan Murphy O’Gorman HS ‘70 O’Gorman HS ‘71


“I have always believed that one of the most important aspects of St Mary is that families within the parish become patrons of the school.” - Mike Murphy

Jean and Dan Murphy’s son, Mike, says his parents were adamant that he and his siblings all attend Catholic school. He says that, at the time, he didn’t fully realize what a gift his parents were giving them. He always knew that the staff and other St. Mary’s family cared about him and were watching out for him. 5th genera Grace & “When my siblings and I would walk to and from school, other parents from tion Joe Murp hy with “G the school were always watching to make sure we made it to our destination randma J ean” in one piece. Whether I struggled or succeeded, my teachers and coaches went above and beyond to help me. They were always some of my greatest champions. One of the most important reasons why we send our children to the Catholic school system is because we know they will be surrounded by people that will care for them as deeply as we do.” When Mike and his wife, Alecia, moved back to Sioux Falls, the decision of where to send their children was easy. “It never crossed my mind to enroll our children anywhere but in the Catholic school system. What I found throughout the Catholic school system was a sense of community, structure and a value/belief system that has shaped who I am today. Some of my closest friends as an adult are my junior high and high school classmates. What has been even more surprising has been that their children and our own children have become close friends as well. I have always believed that one of the most important aspects of St Mary is that families within the parish become patrons of the school.” The generational impact on his family is not lost on Mike. “I have seen first-hand the benefits it has delivered to my parents, siblings and now my own children. The Sioux Falls Catholic school system will give a child a foundational education that will enable them to compete in any field they wish. The values that are instilled while acquiring this quality education are equally if not more beneficial throughout their life. Combining these aspects with the sense of community created by families within the school/parish and children are placed in an environment where they can thrive.”

tion 4th genera hy ‘97 rp u M Frank

Eric Bail

ey ‘02

tion 4th genera iley ‘02 ) Ba y h rp u Ellie (M 4th generation Mike Murphy ‘00

4th generat Maggie M ion urphy ‘05


Christ the King School Transforming the Classroom


Christ the King teachers and staff believe every child deserves a personal education, tailored to their own strengths and weaknesses. To make that belief a reality, the school has adopted a “Blended Learning” model for students in 2nd - 6th grade. Blended Learning combines technology, one-on-one teacher/student interaction, and individual work time to help students learn at their own pace. During Blended learning lessons in reading and math, a class is split up into three groups. The first group sits in a small group of students with the teacher to work on reading sections or math problems in a one-on-one atmosphere. The second group works on the I-Ready program on a Chromebook covering the same topic. The third group works in independent work stations on an assignment given to the class and learns independently.





Our students and teachers would say the most important piece to the blended learning model is “The Teacher Table.” This is where students are grouped based on their individual needs. It allows for personal instruction based on each student’s individual skill set. “I like having smaller groups, because it is easier to learn. I also like working with the teacher one-on-one,” says Elianna Dengler, 3rd grader. Teachers like the new method, too. Many say the one-on-one setting allows them to focus on one student at a time, and get more familiar with their students on an individual basis. “Blended Learning has made it so that I have a better understanding of student progress. With the small group sizes, it has allowed for collaboration amongst students because they feel more comfortable sharing,” says Jenny Quissell, 3rd grade teacher. The technology involved in the Blended Learning format not only gets students excited about lessons, it also helps teachers assess how their class is keeping up with certain lessons. The I-Ready program gives students an adaptive assessment in reading and math, automatically adjusting the difficulty of the questions according to each student’s performance, until the assessment finds exactly the level at which the student is performing. Once the child completes the test, the student will be assigned online instruction to help them learn each skill. This helps students move ahead if they are more advanced in one area or keep working until they learn how to apply the skills to their school work correctly. The independent work stations allow students to become independent learners. By giving the students the opportunity to work on the assignments based on their needs, we are allowing them the opportunity to succeed. It also gives them more time to work on their homework in class, where they can ask questions during their turn with the teacher. “I have been very pleased with the transformation by both the students and staff with the incorporation of Blended Learning. Seeing the amazing data results and the academic growth in our students has motivated the entire school,” says Julie Kolbeck, principal.


St. Michael School


St. Michael School has many terrific things happening year round, and they believe it’s due in large part to their amazing families who graciously devote a lot of their time and talents to help out. From coming in weekly to volunteer with classroom projects to raising money for special projects to providing classroom or office supplies, they can always count on them to lend a helping hand! Joe Carlson, St. Michael School parent and SFO officer, says the parents at their school are very committed. “The parents do a wonderful job helping out by volunteering and it is due to the culture that was created and is maintained. None of them feel the ‘need’ to help out, but they just want to help out when they can.” Carlson says parents enjoy seeing the activities at their school and realize that volunteering is another great way to be active in their children’s lives. He also believes it sets a great example for the kids to see adults so actively involved. “I want my children to see volunteering is a very positive experience and hopefully encourage them to partake in activities like this as they get older.” Carlson believes that an added benefit is that everyone really gets to know each other, which only makes their school community stronger. With this type of incredible commitment, St. Michael School SFO (School/Family Organization) has one of the highest meeting participation rates in the state. With an estimated 75-80% parent attendance at the meetings, word has gotten around. “We receive many calls from other principals throughout the state who have heard that we have a large parent turnout, asking how we do it,” says Principal Lisa Huemoeller.” Dress down days for kids of attendees and having child care available during the meetings help, admits Huemoeller, but she believes the real answer is that they’ve built a culture at the school where parents want to be involved and know they can accomplish great things when they are. “At every SFO activity I have chaired,” says Carlson, “I have always had more parent volunteers than needed so it makes the jobs quick and easy.”


The parents do a wonderful job helping out by volunteering and it is due to the culture that was created and is maintained.

One of the best examples of a school community coming together to do big things at St. Michael’s would be the recent fundraising effort to provide a soft surface playground and artificial turf on the football, soccer, and volleyball fields. The result of their hard work was immediate. “Since the installation, student injuries have decreased immensely, students do not get as dirty/muddy, and we have seen student activity increase during recess since they are able to utilize the entire playground and benefit from it all year round.” Huemoeller believes that St. Michael School is the only elementary school in the state that has artificial turf on their playground field. “This couldn’t have been done without the faith, vision, support of our wonderful St. Michael School families.” Many studies over the years have shown that parent involvement in school activities that are effectively planned and well implemented result in substantial benefits to children, parents, educators and the entire school. That is something that St. Michael families already knew.

This couldn’t have been done without the faith, vision, support of our wonderful St. Michael School families.


St. Katharine Drexel School

! s U h it w w o r G Come Growth in Student Opportunities

Chess Club • Lego League Praise Singers • Life Runners Safety Patrol • Digital Yearbook Team

Growth in Academic Opportunities Mobile Carts • Promethean Boards Coding • Blended Learning Dibels/DRA • Math Olympiads Band • Orchestra • Book Club

Growth in School Spirit 100% of our Outgoing Sixth Graders have Enrolled at OGJH Knightwear Days Caught Being Like a Knight Family Day at O’G Basketball Homecoming Parade


Growth in Faith Altar Servers Monday Morning Rosary Service Projects during Advent Virtue Lessons Catholic School Week & Lent Student-led Masses Living Stations of the Cross Passion Play

Growth in Parent/Community Involvement SFO Yearly Events Classroom Parent Volunteers assisting with Teacher Tasks and/or working with Students Grandparent Volunteer Program (partnership with parishioners at SKD) Lunchroom Parent Volunteers

In 2008, the doors of the SFCS’s newest school, St. Katharine Drexel, were opened for the first time, welcoming families from the west side of Sioux Falls. Sixtyfive eager students from preschool to first grade were greeted by ten staff members ready to embark on a new journey together. In the years to follow, the school’s original theme of “Come Grow With Us” has taken on a whole new meaning and a stronghold within our families. “It has grown and so much has changed, but the caring family environment has stayed the same,” says Angela Harvill, St. Katharine Drexel’s Educational Assistant and parent. “St. Katharine Drexel and all the staff have provided a wonderful, caring environment for our kids to learn and grow in their faith. It has been amazing to watch our children grow and progress through the school and to see the school grow as well.” One of the families that has joined and embraced the St. Katharine Drexel School community is the Lisa and Andrew Kunz family after first enrolling their oldest son in a local public school. “He struggled his first year. He just wasn’t himself. His teacher wasn’t seeing how kindhearted and sweet he was,” says Lisa. “Sioux Falls has great public schools, but we realized something was missing.” As active Catholics, the Kunzs had been looking for signs as to whether their kids should be in the Catholic schools instead. Lisa ran into someone at a grocery store who asked her why their kids weren’t enrolled in one of the Catholic schools. They saw that brief encounter as a sign, and the next year made the move to St. Katharine Drexel School. From the first day, they knew they’d made the right move. “The day of the first school Mass, all of the parents stood outside of the school and prayed — together. And I started to cry. I remembered a year earlier — at the public school — I was praying alone in my car, just hoping that my kid would have a good day. This was just so different — it was HUGE.” Now with three children at St. Katharine Drexel, Lisa says her children know they are loved, safe, respected and known. “The teachers and staff live out their faith as amazing examples to the children. The school as a whole wants all the children to thrive, to do their best and to know God.” It’s experiences like these that have helped the school more than triple in size. One of the other really great things going on at St. Katharine Drexel School is it’s incredible sense of school spirit. With incentive programs like “Caught Being a Knight,” the school seeks to reward students for their exemplary behavior, for going above and beyond to show the virtues of a true Knight, and students at the school grow up wanting to “be like a Knight.” That has translated to an incredible 100% of their sixth grade students transitioning to O’Gorman Junior High for seventh grade. Principal Stacy Charron is very proud of her school, its students and staff, the strong sense of community they have developed, and the growth they have seen as a result. “We look forward to the future at St. Katharine Drexel School with all those who choose to ‘Come Grow With Us!’”


O’GORMAN JUNIOR HIGH Time of Transition

Moving to a new school can be an exciting, but nervous time for students. This is the first time students from all six of our elementary schools come together, unified as one, to form the “Class of...”. In addition, OGJH has proven to be an entry point into Sioux Falls Catholic Schools for 7th or 8th graders who were not previously part of Sioux Falls Catholic Schools. Most parents speak to the tradition of academic excellence and integration of Gospel values as a primary reason for making the move to O’Gorman Junior High. The Junior High gives 7th and 8th graders their first taste of independence in a school setting, while still providing a structured environment. Students that attend OGJH can expect a unique environment that fosters teamwork, selfdiscipline and a desire for daily improvement. “The staff at OGJH is exceptional. The teachers here truly have a passion for the subjects that they teach. Not only that, but the students that go through this school seem to be destined for greatness, so it’s an uplifting feeling to be a part of that,” says Ruth Bordewyk, Language Arts teacher at O’Gorman Junior High. “We have an outstanding combination of parent support and educators who have a common mission of developing young people to their fullest. The challenges at the middle level are great. However, the impact that we can have on the students at this age are equally as satisfying. Our teachers and staff approach each day as a new day — one that we can intentionally make a difference and challenge our students to be the best they can be,” says Wade Charron, principal at OGJH.




“...students that go through this school seem to be destined for greatness...”

Christian Service • First opportunity to participate in independent Christian Service • Students expected to complete 12 hours of service throughout the school year • Every quarter, students are asked to serve at least one hour of service for their church, one hour of service for their community and one hour of service for their family




BEFORE GRADE NINE Credit Before Grade Nine • 70% of students earn at least one high school credit before entering O’Gorman High School • Opens the door to earn a college credit before even stepping on a college campus

ICU • Intensive Care Unit for academics • Provides extra time and help for students who are missing assignments or needing assistance to understand concepts from class • Philosophy: “Every student completes every assignment”



Student Involvement • More than 90% of students involved in co-curricular activities related to music, athletics or service clubs • First opportunity to participate in varsity high school athletics • Music: choir, show choir, concert band, jazz band and orchestra • Sports: middle school volleyball, boys and girls basketball, track and cross-country, high school gymnastics, wrestling, football, golf and tennis. • 2018 State Champions and National Qualifiers in First Lego League Robotics


O’GORMAN HIGH SCHOOL Culture of Excellence

When our community thinks of O’Gorman High School, faith, academic excellence and rigor comes to mind for many. But it’s not only the individual academic successes celebrated at O’G. Over the last 57 years, O’Gorman High School has created an environment that helps all learners excel in their classes. It has become an environment many families have turned to when looking for the best education for their student. Kari and Rob TeKolste decided to move their daughter, Jenna, from public schools to O’Gorman in 2013. “The information we had heard about the academic opportunities and standards of excellence held true in every aspect of Jenna’s O’G experience,” says Kari. Jenna says the adjustment to the new curriculum took time to get used to after her years in public school. “At my previous school, good grades were awesome but at O’Gorman they were expected. Putting in effort was a quality not one single student lacked. I realized I was behind and immediately was empowered to catch up academically to my classmates during my freshman year. The O’G community pushes you to become passionate about what you are doing in the classroom. In return, the passion that you feel towards school makes you feel a sense of pride for your knowledge.”

“No matter what type of background you come from, there will be a place for you to fit in and excel…” While two-thirds of the Class of 2017 scored a 25 or higher composite on the ACT and 72% of the class graduated with college credit, O’Gorman faculty and staff often stress the importance of success for every student, not just those in AP courses or with a 4.5 GPA. O’Gorman offers an academic services program to assist students who may need additional support. In recent years, a peer tutoring program was added to offer more academic support to students, and the school has a Student Assistance Team that works diligently to ensure that no student fails. It was this mentality that the TeKolste family says helped prepare Jenna for life after O’Gorman. She elected to continue her education at Drake University in Des Moines. “Jenna is enrolled in their Actuarial Science program,” says Kari. “The program curriculum is very challenging and has required her to take a heavy course load. However, she’s been able to successfully meet the academic challenges. I believe this is primarily due to the years spent at O’G. It prepared her for difficult college course work and provided her with the skills and experience necessary to manage the work.” It’s a sentiment shared by Jenna herself. “Coming into college, I did not skip one beat and was right on pace with my college courses. I attribute this to the expectations in high school that became second nature. Whether it is an essay, a presentation, or an exam, I consistently stand out in comparison to classmates and that is due to the skills I learned in high school.”


Excellence in Academics

• Three-time National Blue Ribbon School • 72% of the Class of 2017 earned college credit • Two-thirds of students from the Class of 2017 scored a 25 or higher composite on the ACT ACT COMPOSITE SCORES - CLASS OF 2017 (99% TESTED) 26


• Class of 2017 had 80 students win the President’s Award for Education Excellence. (3.5 GPA and 85th percentile on standardized test in math and reading) • Class of 2018 has six National Merit Finalists


• 90% AP pass rate over the past five years


• 97% of the Class of 2017 pursued post-secondary education

23 21.8



Excellence in Activities


• More than 90% of OGHS students participate in at least one extra-curricular activity


• OGHS has won 104 state championships—more than any other school in the state of South Dakota O’Gorman

South Dakota


For many of our families, the years spent at O’Gorman have made the transition to the post-secondary experience seamless. Counselor Kelly Jones says that colleges appreciate having our graduates attend their schools. “An O’Gorman diploma means something to colleges because they understand the rigor of our academics.” The TeKolste family believes Jenna’s high school education helped prepare her for a very successful future. “For us, sending Jenna to O’G was the best decision. Her experience provided a good balance of high academic standards, a strong base in community service, and an emphasis on moral character. We strongly believe those attributes contribute to the ‘success’ of an individual,” says Kari. Jenna says that she would encourage any student looking to find success in their future to look at O’Gorman High School. “I would tell anyone that they will benefit immensely from the whole experience. No matter what type of background you come from, there will be a place for you to fit in and excel alongside your peers.”

• OGHS Oral Interpretation team has received seven National Team Awards in the past seven years. • 16 Oral Interpretation and Debate Team members qualified for national tournaments in 2018

Excellence in Community of Faith

• OGHS students perform over 20,000 Christian Service hours each year • Cardinal Newman Society School of Excellence for 13 consecutive years • Three graduates from the class of 2009 were ordained priests in June of 2017 • School-wide Advent project has supplied 250 filled Christmas stockings and 40 large boxes of essential supplies for Bishop Dudley Hospitality House each year since the shelter opened • Annual Empty Bowls Soup Supper supports Sioux Falls organizations that feed the hungry



For decades, our Catholic schools in Sioux Falls were not able to accommodate students with any type of special needs. While, at present, we cannot offer all that the public schools can offer, we have made great strides over the years. It started back in 1986 when a family new to Sioux Falls approached O’Gorman principal Tom Lorang about having their daughter at the school. Angela Andresen had been in a Catholic school in Seattle and the family wanted her to have the same services here in Sioux Falls. Other families who had children with special needs joined in and pushed for the school to establish “Special Services,” a self-contained program was established, funded in part by a grant. Barb Rance was brought on board to head the program. Soon Kathleen Flynn joined in to help. They were tasked with covering Special Services at O’Gorman, and also doing outreach into the elementary schools. They quickly realized they had taken on too much; they needed to focus on one school. Kathleen took the high school program and Barb started a program at St. Mary’s. Part of the challenge was funding. Some was funded by a grant, but parents with students in the program, who were already paying for tuition, were asked to also contribute to the other services their kids were getting, including speech therapy and aides to sign for the deaf, etc. Over the years, the name was changed to Academic Services and programs were established at each of the elementary schools. The schools worked hard to be independent yet also utilize some of the programs offered by the public schools. In the late 1990’s, Janet and Don Fisher wanted to enroll their eldest son, Jacob, at St. Lambert School. They wanted to make sure the people overseeing the Academic Services programs knew as much as possible about the options in educating children with special needs, so they donated the money needed to send Rance to a special education conference. Jacob was the first student with Down Syndrome to attend K-12 at SFCS. “One of the biggest challenges we faced was hesitation from teachers who were unsure if they had the skills to handle a classroom and a child with special needs. Our experience was that the teachers did a marvelous job, and many of them have told us that taking on the challenge made them a better teacher for all of their students,” says Don. “Jacob’s education at SFCS was a great success. He is still a huge O’G supporter and keeps in contact with some of his classmates and teachers.”


Unfortunately, there were still students that the schools couldn’t accept, and it was harder to accommodate the students they already had all the way through junior high and high school, so some students had to be turned away. “It was a challenge to build the program within the resources that we had. We were always wondering if we were doing all we could,” says Rance. One of the things that helped, according to Rance, was utilizing volunteers and students from the Christian Service classes. “They have been a huge resource when we don’t have enough personnel.”

“It was important to Sarah to be a Knight.” One family who is grateful for the services provided by the Sioux Falls Catholic Schools is the John and Patty Nohr family. Knowing the challenges their daughter Sarah had, they were concerned, as any parent would be. “It was important to us that she could have a Catholic education,” says John. Through it all, John says that the Catholic Schools prepared Sarah well, making sure she had the skills necessary to make a smooth transition from elementary to junior high and later to high school. “We could see the growth at St. Lambert’s. They had good staff to help her where she needed help but let her grow and become more independent, which helped her transition more smoothly to OGJH and later the high school.” Nohrs have also seen great improvements in what the schools have been able to offer Sarah and other kids with any kinds of challenges. “Ten years ago, Sarah probably wouldn’t have been able to attend O’Gorman,” says John, who is also a longtime teacher in the SFCS. The Nohrs are grateful that the Academic Services were available to their family. “It was important to Sarah to be a Knight.” As the growth of the SFCS system has continued, our Academic Services programs have as well. SFCS currently employs 10 full time Academic Services faculty, along with support personnel. These dedicated professionals collaborate with parents to design a plan to meet the individual needs of over 200 students with a wide range of disabilities including autism/ Asperger’s, cognitive disabilities, specific learning disabilities and other health impairments. They also provide on-site speech/language services to well over 100 students annually and offer English language learner services. The Sioux Falls Catholic Schools offer academic support to all students, assisting them to achieve their potential and promoting a positive learning experience for all… so that students like Angela ‘91, Jacob ‘10 and Sarah ‘18, can ALL be Knights!

Several years ago, Sioux Falls Catholic Schools established a program called “Achievement Academy” which provides additional support for families within our own system, offering tutoring, testing and enrichment activities. By utilizing Achievement Academy services, parents no longer have to hire outside agencies, who don’t know the students or their teachers, to tutor their children. With current SFCS faculty members providing these services, this unique partnership allows for excellent communication between the families, their SFCS classroom teachers and the teacher tutors working with the students. 21

What’s in a Name?

Sioux Falls Catholic Schools Name Brand Study As Sioux Falls Catholic Schools plans for the future, we are working to ensure that we are accurately representing our current families and finding ways to reach new families in our community. Currently, the SFCS School Board is conducting a name brand study to see if “Sioux Falls Catholic Schools” still accurately represents our system. As the city of Sioux Falls continues to grow, and with the addition of a new parish, John Paul II Catholic Church in Harrisburg, the board decided to analyze whether “Sioux Falls Catholic Schools” still fits the expectation of the public and our families. An ad hoc committee made up of current board members, SFCS staff, alumni and donors began looking into a possible name change this spring. The group is tasked with deciding whether a change would be beneficial for SFCS and, if so, what names would accurately reflect who we are as a system. Some of the names under consideration by the groups include “Sioux Falls Area Catholic Schools,” “Sioux Falls Metro Catholic Schools,” Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools” and “O’Gorman Catholic Schools.” To help gather input, focus groups were held over the past few months. Around 100 alumni, current parents, new people to our school system, and staff members participated. The first half of the meeting focused on identifying brand attributes that our families, donors and alumni associate with Catholic education overall and specifically Sioux Falls Catholic Schools. They were also asked how these brand attributes are understood in relation to our current system name. The second half of the meetings built on the brand attributes and addressed how we can better communicate these through our current name or potential new name. It is important to note that a system name change would only affect the Sioux Falls Catholic Schools name, and not individual school names. All information from the focus groups will be presented to the ad hoc committee, and then presented to the full SFCS Board for consideration. In addition to studying the name brand for our system, we are also placing an emphasis on: • Planning Vision 2025 • Addressing south Sioux Falls growth and potential school opportunities • Reviewing our tuition model • Expanding offerings to surrounding communities


South Dakota Partners in Education Tax Credit Scholarship Program “Choosing a school is the most important decision a parent makes for their child.” Legislation passed in 2016 created this unique partnership between South Dakota’s parents and insurance companies endorsed by the State of South Dakota. The law allows any company paying South Dakota’s insurance premium tax the opportunity to invest in our children and fund tuition scholarships while earning an 80% tax credit. This new scholarship opportunity empowers income-eligible families to choose a non-public school if they believe it’s best for their child. During the program’s first two years, more than $500,000 has been awarded to students in 41 participating non-public schools (Catholic, Christian and Lutheran schools) across South Dakota. Nineteen Catholic schools in the Diocese of Sioux Falls, including all eight of our Sioux Falls Catholic Schools, have benefited from these dollars, providing a Catholic education to those who might not otherwise be able to attend. Says one very grateful parent whose child received a scholarship, “This program created an opportunity for our family that I hadn’t thought possible.” Aberdeen

Communities with schools that received tax credit scholarships* Pierre

Milbank Watertown


Rapid City



Volga Dell Rapids Madison

Pine Ridge St. Francis

Mitchell Corsica

*117 SFCS students received scholarships this year for a total of $75,287 awarded.

Sioux Falls

Freeman Ver milli on Yankton

How you can get involved

If you’d like to learn more, whether you are interested in applying for a scholarship or if you have insurance contacts and want to see how to take advantage of the tax credits while helping kids, go to www.sdpartnersinedu.org or call any of our local Board members. • Dan Fritz: (605) 553-1861 • Phyllis Heineman (605) 610-5453

• Katie Mellor (419) 559-6354 • Dr. Tom Cink (605) 366-7763

• Scott Perrenoud (605) 940-6534 • Dustin Strande (605) 359-0007


Eight schools. One community. Sioux Falls Catholic Schools

Thank you for your continued support of O’Gorman High School 605.336.3644 • 3201 S Kiwanis Ave (57105)

O’Gorman Junior High 605.988.0546 • 3100 S Kiwanis Ave (57105)

Christ The King School 605.338.5103 • 1801 S Lake Ave (57105)

St. Lambert School 605.338.7042 • 1000 S Bahnson Ave (57103)

St. Katharine Drexel School 605.275.6994 • 1800 S Katie Ave (57106)

St. Mary School 605.334.9881 • 2001 S 5th Ave (57105)

Holy Spirit School 605.371.1481 • 4309 S Bahnson Ave (57103)

St. Michael School 605.361.0021 • 1610 S Marion Rd (57106)

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