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An Open Letter from St. John’s Prep Leadership on Standing up to Racism and Intolerance

Dear Students, Families, Alumni, Faculty, Staff, and Friends of St. John’s Prep,


We were traumatized to watch the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota who on May 25 was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white police officer. In spite of his cries for help and the pleas of bystanders, his life ended while being restrained on suspicion of a non-violent crime. His death reflects the systemic racism and deep inequalities in our society. He is sadly one of too many who have lost their lives due to injustice. 


As the leadership team at St. John’s Prep, we feel compelled to condemn injustice, intolerance, and racism. Black Lives Matter. No statement can heal the wounds inflicted by systemic racism, but we pledge to actively work on changing it and to show our students what it means to stand with and for those who have been victimized by it.


We reaffirm our school’s commitment to equality, diversity, inclusivity, and human rights. We reaffirm our school’s commitment to the Gospel message that all “may have life more abundantly.”


We pledge to do better to create inclusive, open spaces where we will listen with full hearts to one another and learn from one another with respect for differences and backgrounds. 


With Pope Francis we affirm that "The most effective antidote to every form of violence is education about discovering and accepting difference as richness and fruitfulness.” We affirm our commitment to our young women and men helping them to grow and develop intellectually, artistically, physically and spiritually, both inside and outside the classroom. Part of that education is the education of administrators and teachers listening to the traumatic stories of our students and making our institution responsive to them. We are here and we are listening. 


Days of Listening and Understanding

Build Open, Inclusive Discussion.  Starting Saturday, June 6, we will begin a series of listening meetings called Days of Understanding with current students, alumni and educators. We know that to go from a moment to a movement within St. John’s Prep that work needs to start and to continue. It will not be an overnight change.  


Process Your Feelings. Tragedies are traumatic, especially for young adults. We encourage our students to speak with their loved ones, to reach out to one another, and to St. John’s Prep administrators and teachers. We encourage our students to turn from silence, to voice their fears, their anger, their frustrations, and their calls for help; and to move from being fearful to fearless. 


From a Moment to a Movement. This work will continue. St. John’s Prep will review our policies and literature for clear, strong statements against discrimination, racism and harassment; and to review our hiring practices and our marketing materials and ask if they best reflect the St. John’s Prep community. We will seek professional development on unconscious bias and racial justice  for our faculty, staff and administration. We will ask our alumni and families to give their time and experience in an advisory task force on diversity, inclusivity, and anti-racism. 


Spiritual Development.  As a Catholic  organization, our faith calls us to educate, to seek justice, and to serve. It is the heart of St. John’s Prep and it ties us all together. We pledge to bring the work of social justice into our community, classroom, and curriculum. With your help we can all grow from this moment and bring true progress to our school, our students’ lives, and our world.  

Nuala Martinez

President, St. John’s Prep 


Maria Johnson

Principal, St. John’s Prep