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The student news site of St. Teresa's Academy

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Activism at STA

In the midst of major world-wide events, The DART discusses how STA can utilize the CSJ values to address issues that expand beyond the school community.

On the morning of Oct. 13, STA president Siabhan May-Washington and academic principal Barb McCormick joined Adam Tilove, the head of the school of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in assisting at the school’s student drop-off point. May-Washington and McCormick were not the only guests, as leaders from multiple schools including Cristo Ray, Horizon Academy, Notre Dame de Sion, Oakhill Day School, Pembroke Hill, Rockhurst High School and others stood alongside them. These school administrators joined together to show unity in light of the ongoing conflict that began on Oct. 7 with the attack in Israel.

“That particular day was shortly thereafter the Israel conflict occurred and [there was] just lots of fear in their community,” May-Washington said. “Many people were pressuring [Tilove] to close school even that particular Friday, but he did not want to do that. He felt that if the community was surrounded by love, everything would be okay.”

In face of this division, May-Washington recounts the solidarity found at the drop-off point.

“[There were] tears of joy from the head of school and their teachers and the kids and their parents,” May-Washington said. “It was really great to support them and let them know that we care”

In addition to STA faculty and staff practicing the CSJ values by getting involved in larger issues within the Kansas City community, students have also taken initiative to learn about the world around them. The CSJ values are derived from the practices of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and one particular value, “loving thy dear neighbor without distinction” comes to light through community participation. One group in particular, the Current Events Club, practices this value through making a point to address and educate students about global, national and local news. 

Current Events Club, led by Elizabeth Connor and Sydney Smith, discusses one global, one national and one local news story each meeting. A goal of the club is to create a safe environment where students can learn and voice their opinions. Connor and Smith prioritize respect within the club, especially when certain issues are discussed.

“If we’re discussing a polarizing issue it’s basically understood that everyone is going to be respectful of everyone’s opinions and no one is going to go around sharing other people’s opinions,” Smith said. “We do have both sides on a lot of issues and they respect each other.”

Connor and Smith emphasize the importance of the club in the STA community. They say it covers an aspect of education that isn’t always addressed throughout all four grade levels. 

“[The club] makes me more aware of the things going on around me,” Smith said. “Because normally as a high school student you don’t take time to read the news or become well versed in what is going on. It just brings awareness for us.”

Recently, the club has been discussing the conflict in Israel. Since it’s such a large topic on the news, Smith and Connor agreed it was important to raise awareness of the ongoing issue to the student body as well as club members. 

“I don’t know how much effect we have on the whole student body but we do fundraisers,” Connor said. “We are planning one right now that relates to current event issues. We will probably do a fundraiser for something involving the Israel-Palestine conflict so it brings out the issue to the rest of the student body.”

Smith and Connor hope to highlight current global issues in order to create an impassioned and educated STA student body. Both recall how beneficial the club meetings and presentations were to them as underclassmen. The club allows students to comprehend the news in non-biased and digestible ways. 

“I think it especially impacts freshmen and sophomores in the club because I know that as a freshman and sophomore I knew nothing about what was going on in the world,” Connor said. “But I think telling them about [current events], it’s just a really great resource.”

The officers of Current Events Club encourage using the news as a resource to become an active and prepared citizen of the community, the country and the globe. Connor stresses that she does not want to be ignorant to the news, and strives to inform other students about current events.

“It is so important,” Connor said. “Being the one to make the slideshows has made me become just that much more aware of what’s going on because again, I didn’t know anything about current events. But I would come out of those meetings and think, ‘Okay, this is what’s happening and I’m someone who knows about the world I’m living in.’ Because the worst thing I want to be is that private school kid who is totally ignorant and I think it’s very, very important to talk about current events.”

The Current Events Club is not alone in their passion for increasing students’ knowledge about diverse faiths, cultures and issues. Senior Abby Margolin is a member of the Jewish faith, and for the past two years has led an interim about Jewish culture. 

“In the course, we talked about all of the different Jewish holidays, what we do during those holidays, what we eat during those holidays, and so on,” Margolin said. “My goal was to share a part of myself and my faith identity with other students at STA who might not know much about the Jewish faith or the Jewish community. People still tell me how much they enjoyed the class, and it means a lot to me. I got to teach people about a big part of my life that’s important to me and see what they got out of it.”

 Interim courses are not the only place students can receive education about other religions at STA. Margolin notes that her current favorite class is World Faiths, taught by Jamie Bannister. 

“It’s by far my favorite religion class that I’ve taken in my time at STA,” Margolin said. “We’ve learned about so many different faiths, and Dr. Bannister does an incredible job at teaching the course. She has opened the floor up to so many conversations about current issues and anything else that we want to discuss. I appreciate that STA encourages us to learn about many different faiths.” 

Margolin is grateful to STA for welcoming her as someone of the Jewish faith.  

“Even though we’re at a Catholic school, everyone here does such a good job of making it clear that all are welcome here, whether you identify as Catholic, Jewish, Christian or Buddhist,” Margolin said. “I love STA and I’m grateful that I have been completely welcomed. I’ve never felt even a tiny inkling of someone here not accepting me as a Jewish person.”

One opportunity students have to grow their leadership skills and CSJ values is the annual trip for incoming juniors to the motherhouse in St. Louis. Theology teacher Adrianna Knifong helps organize and run this camp. 

“The camp is just a couple of days, where [students] get to interact with the Sisters of St. Joseph on various levels,” Knifong said. “They’ll hear different talks about how we can play an active role in society very much like how the Sisters of St. Joseph did when they were first starting and how they’ve continued that legacy.”

Juniors Nora Kramer and Lucy Boxx feel that the experience made them closer to their classmates and helped them appreciate the roots of their high school. However, the high point of their time at the motherhouse was their exposure to leadership in new and different ways.

“I think I definitely used what I learned because I learned a lot about leadership and how it’s not necessarily just one person in charge leading everyone, but more recognizing each other’s strengths and all working together,” Kramer said. “So I think that’s something I’ve really carried through socially, when working in group projects or just in any other group, recognizing each other’s strength and using that and playing to that advantage rather than one person is in charge and they decide everything.”

Kramer and Boxx highlight how the activities on the trip like reflections, eating with the Sisters and team building helped them come together. However, they point out how the planning of Mass at STA improved their leadership and collaboration skills. 

One of my favorite parts was that we got to plan a Mass or prayer service,” Kramer said. “Everyone was given a role and you would choose what you wanted to do. I was on one of the Scripture parts, the Responsorial Psalm. We also had music there, like Danni Haley and I played the piano and Eve played the violin. Planning the Mass was really cool.” 

In addition to the Mass, the CSJ Leadership campers also planned prayer services in St. Louis. 

“The prayer services were really inspiring and I really liked us working together to make it happen,” Boxx said. “We also worked together to make a Mass at STA happen. It was really great to feel like my skills I got from being at the motherhouse were also used for that Mass.”

The campers also appreciated their time they got to reflect. Boxx feels she was able to learn how to be a good person while also being a strong leader. 

“I knew about being a good person but how can I do that without being pushed around?” Boxx said. “I feel like I did learn a lot from it. Afterwards, I thought a lot about who I am as a person. Overall, I felt like it was a really fulfilling experience.”

Knifong hopes that students will continue to leave this camp with a new perspective which grants them values and skills that extend past the STA community.

“I think what’s really important is that we are giving our students this passion, this energy for them to go and make a change,” Knifong said. “Giving students this opportunity to stand up, have a voice and know that what they have to say is very important and that it can change the world.”

In order for students to acknowledge and apply this passion, Knifong believes teachers play a pivotal role in creating a safe place of conversation to motivate and empower students of various different beliefs.

“I feel like teachers really have the opportunity to show students how to have respectful conversations, and to be able to look at several points of view so they’re thinking not so narrow minded,” Knifong said. “When we open up to all the different possibilities that we have in this world and different ways to think, then we might be able to actually come to appreciate a different viewpoint.”

Overall Knifong finds that the CSJ camp and meaningful classroom conversations reflect back to the values in which STA was founded on, and still apply to our world today in face of extreme global conflicts.

“It goes back to the Sisters’ mission which is also our mission, and that’s really just to love the dear neighbor without distinction,” Knifong said. “No matter where they come from, no matter who they are, what they look like, what they believe, that is our mission; just to love and we can do that in so many different ways.”

Despite the encouragement and daily manifestation of these CSJ values found throughout the STA community, May-Washington recognizes that people can doubt true goodness in the midst of global conflicts.

“I know we can feel helpless,” May-Washington said. “It seems like the conflict is so far away, but yet we’re impacted by it.”

In order to combat feeling helplessness or having no power to make a difference, May-Washington firmly believes in the strength of the individual.

“What we can do is in our own sphere of the universe,” May-Washington said. “It’s one person at a time so every contact that St. Teresa’s students and community members have, that’s making a difference, just one person at a time, standing up for love and saying that there’s no place for hate in our hearts.”

May-Washington encourages daily action in order to make this difference.

“The CSJ charism has to be not sometimes, not just on Sundays, not just on Holy Days, but every day,” May-Washington said. “It’s up to us being intentional with every interaction.”

By being intentional with every interaction through the lens of the CSJ values, May-Washington has confidence light will triumph in face of darkness.

“There was a late Congressman [John] Lewis, a man who loved to talk about how light can overcome darkness” May-Washington said. “If we continue to be the light, that’s going to make a difference.”

In a continuous effort to embody this light in times of extreme turmoil May-Washington finds it of great importance to remember what it means to be a part of the STA community— a community fueled by sisterhood that has persevered through generations.

“We don’t live in a bubble, we’re a part of humanity, and our Catholic values propel us to care,” May-Washington said. “Our charism is to love your neighbor without distinction and so our founding sisters, the Sisters of St. Joseph, from the very beginning, have always been about helping others. That is why St. Teresa says to care.”

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Rebecca McGannon, Staff Writer
Hey, guys! I’m Rebecca McGannon and I’m super excited to be on The Dart staff this year! I’m a junior here at STA and help run the Photography club. I really hope to learn more about writing, design and photography this year. I love hanging out with my friends and my dog. Outside of school, I do country club swimming and ice skating in the winter. I love drinking iced lattes, traveling, listening to new music and watching “One Tree Hill.”
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Hi, everyone! My name is Lina Kilgore and I am a junior. This is my second year on the Dart and I am going to be the sports and news editor this year. I really enjoy writing various stories and taking pictures of sports events. When I am not in the classroom, I am usually running cross country, playing soccer and reading. Some of my favorite books include “Six of Crows” and “Salt to the Sea.” I also love spending time with my dog, Viggo. Overall, I am thrilled to be a part of the Dart this year!
Jo Marshall, Staff Writer
Hi, I’m Jo Marshall. I’m part of the class of 2026, and this is my first year on The Dart. My hobbies are shopping, hanging out with my friends, running, and taking aux. My favorite color is lavender purple. My favorite songs are Our Song by Taylor Swift, Cruel Summer by Taylor Swift, and Pretend by Alex G. I’m so excited to be on staff this year!

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