• Q5: New St. Mary's/O'Hara principal John O'Connor

  • O’Connor will become the principal of both St. Mary’s and Archbishop O’Hara high schools this fall, splitting his time evenly between the two facilities.

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  • O’Connor will become the principal of both St. Mary’s and Archbishop O’Hara high schools this fall, splitting his time evenly between the two facilities. The joint administration is in preparation for when the two schools combine in three years at the site of a new Catholic school in Lee’s Summit.
    1. How do you think you will manage the responsibilities of overseeing both O’Hara and St. Mary’s?
    I am blessed to have wonderful assistant principals at both buildings. We have devised a plan for next year that would put me at both buildings during the school week. One week I will spend three days at St. Mary’s and two at O’Hara, and then flip that schedule the following week. The number of days at both buildings will be divided evenly throughout the school year. We are also reviewing both school calendars and scheduling events accordingly. I am positive that this model will continue to provide adequate administrative supervision at both schools. We will re-evaluate the process as needed.
    2. Why do the you think Catholic education is important and where do you see it headed in the future?
    Catholic schools provide an educational environment within a religious community for young people to deepen their faith as they excel in academics. Catholic schools are dedicated to passing on the traditions and teachings of the Catholic faith. Catholic schools emphasize the tradition of faith, service, learning and community. Catholic schools often provide classrooms where the teacher to student ratio is much smaller than the public school system can offer.
    With the rising costs of Catholic education, it becomes harder and harder for parents to put their children in Catholic schools. I plan to take on the responsibility at both schools to call on alumni for support. Many teachers and staff at both St. Mary’s and O’Hara are alumni and have chosen to return to their individual high schools because of the experience and benefits they received from their Catholic education. I am hoping the alumni of both schools see the value of their high school education and give back in any way they can.
    3. How will students in Eastern Jackson County benefit from the new high school being constructed in Lee’s Summit?
    The location in Lee’s Summit will provide a location for most families that is less than 20 minutes away from the majority of our Catholic feeder schools. The excitement of new facilities and the joining of two strong Catholic high school communities will provide the enthusiasm and energy that will be contagious to the entire area. The location is easy to get to and available from all directions.
    4. How do you plan to integrate the two student populations of O’Hara and St. Mary’s into one cohesive high school?
    Page 2 of 2 - We have a number of committees working on ways to integrate the two communities into one cohesive group. Some things that have been talked about include student councils meeting on a regular basis, celebrating masses and class retreats together, service projects and mission trips. This past year, seniors from both high schools joined together for a mission trip to Joplin. The possibilities are unlimited. I am excited about all the opportunities.
    5. What is your philosophy when it comes to Catholic education?
    My philosophy about Catholic school education is that it is our responsibility as Catholic school educators to provide a prayerful, spiritually rich environment where the teachers and staff pass on their experiences of God by living out the Gospel values each and every day and being an example for their students. We should demonstrate our spiritual beliefs and reinforce those Gospel values in everyday life. I believe students should be taught to have respect for others and themselves and to have a deep faith in God while being spiritually, academically, socially and emotionally challenged each and every day.
    – Kelly Evenson

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