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St. John the Baptist
Catholic School
12319 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20904 | 301-622-3076

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is unique about Saint John the Baptist Catholic School (SJB)?

Saint John the Baptist Catholic School (SJB) is an ideal school for families looking for a small close-knit community that provides a sense of belonging, community support, Catholic-identity, personal development, and high academic standards.

SJB provides traditional and holistic education to their families.  In a world where academics have become the primary focus in our society, SJB offers strong moral guidance while upholding rigorous academic standards and values. SJB incorporates activities that help shape our children beyond academics by providing recess, art, music, physical education, religion, and Spanish regularly each week. During class, children receive individual, focused attention from experienced teachers, some of whom have been part of the SJB community for years, and many of whom hold advanced degrees. Older grades are paired with younger grades so that older students can be role models and younger students feel connected and supported during reading, lunch and Mass services. Parents are encouraged to readily engage as active participants in their child(ren)’s education, and can influence SJB school initiatives, programs and activities. The community incorporates annual traditions that facilitate development of lifelong friendships among parents, students and others in the parish community, which include academic, cultural, and recreational activities.

As a close-knit community, we are developing the future generation of leaders that are academically equipped for success, while maintaining a strong Catholic-identity, inner character and strong morals. Back to top.

2. What can you tell us about SJB’s academics standards and curriculum?

SJB has been designated as a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Education Department because students in each class scored at the top 15% of our nation’s scores in reading and mathematics in 2010. This is not the only indicator of SJB’s academic excellence; SJB facilitates an environment that creates an intrinsic love of learning and desire for success. In class, teachers group students according to their levels so that students can tackle problems that challenge each of them as individuals. Math camp is incorporated as part of the curriculum for Grades 2 - 8 to support foundational concepts.  Spanish, art, computer lab, library hours, music and physical education are part of the regular week for all students as early as kindergarten. SJB is also annually accredited by AdvancEd, a regional accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

As a recent testament to SJB’s academics, the school was recently reported as one of the top private schools among other National Blue Ribbon private schools in reading and mathematics scores (2015). Further, the school principal, Mr. Blomquist, is always open to parent and teacher feedback to find out new and innovative ways to enhance student learning.

SJB’s school curriculum follows guidelines set by the Archdiocese of Washington. The Archdiocese of Washington sets rigorous academic standards defining what students should know at every grade level across the archdiocese (includes the District of Columbia and five Maryland counties). Studies have demonstrated success in using these standards, where i.e., 99% of Catholic high school graduates are accepted into college, compared to 44.1% of public school graduates (Source: NCEA).  More information on SJB’s curriculum are here. In 2016, SJB’s 29 graduating 8th graders were offered $216,000 in academic scholarships entering private high schools.

SJB 8th graders perform very well in comparison to 8th graders at other Catholic schools and at public schools who take the High School Placement Test, according to ADW and HSPT data.

In the line chart below, the red line represents the scores of SJB 8th graders. The line just below it represents the scores of students in other ADW schools. The three lines below the top two lines represent non-public-school 8th grade students who took the HSPT on three different dates.

SJB Student Scores Compared to Public & ADW Scores.JPG

 

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3. How are Christian/Catholic practices incorporated into SJB?

We strive to ensure that students graduate with an established Catholic identity while having a strong moral compass and being academically equipped for success. We seek to develop well-formed consciences, and to promote the desire to serve and inspire others like Jesus. Each year, we select an annual theme to help students focus on their relationship with God, and every quarter, our school gathers together to pray our Living Rosary for peace in our world. 

SJB begins and ends each class day in prayer. Formal religion classes are taught daily. Children participate in Mass each week, and there are nine school wide Masses where each grade hosts one of the liturgies. Reconciliation is available throughout the school year for Grades 2- 8. Stations of the Cross are designated on Friday afternoons during the Lenten Season.  The school facilitates several community service projects, which can involve helping those in need locally and/or internationally. Some community service projects include food pantries, fundraisers, and other service projects. SJB supports the parish sacramental programs, and are encouraged to prepare for Sacraments with others of the parish outside of the regular school day by participating in parish evening classes.

The SJB community is welcoming to non-Catholic students and families.  Our lessons are applicable to real life because we teach moral values, integrity, and stewardship.  We ask that non-Catholic students be respectful and participate with their fellow classmates. Back to top.

4. What is the school day like?

The school day begins at 8:00am and ends at 3:00pm. Before and aftercare programs are available at additional cost, allowing full-time working families to drop off their children by 7am and pick their children up as late as 6:00pm each day. Aftercare allocates designated time for students to complete their homework and also includes outdoor free play.

During the day for kindergarteners and elementary students, children are buddied with older students for reading, lunch and mass.  Students have a morning and afternoon recess each day.  They receive Music, Spanish, Art, Library and Computer Lab each week. Physical education is offered twice a week. Religious education is part of everyday learning.  Children receive responsibilities appropriate to their level, and are taught early to contribute and help others in the school and beyond school walls.

For middle school students, students are grouped into smaller groups for better focused learning. State of the art technology is integrated into class activities. Small art classes are provided by an award-winning art teacher. Spanish is offered three times a week so that students will be prepared for higher levels of Spanish by high school.  SJB’s exceptional writing program prepares students reading and writing high school challenges. Additional math courses are offered beyond the regular math class so that students have the opportunity to focus on specific foundational theories. 

Students also have annual traditions that they prepare for and look forward to outside of school hours.  SJB annual traditions are listed here on the SJB website. Back to top.

5. How does SJB leverage information technology?

SJB readily integrates technology into the school environment, where students are taught necessary real-world skills, including how to present, write reports, publish, and create graphics using computers.  State of the art technology is available for students. IPads, smartboards, projectors, and online media (e.g.  parent portals, electronic library resources) are integrated teaching tools that students and parents can leverage for learning and communicative purposes. SJB also offers STEM-enriched extracurricular activities such as chess, robotics, coding and computer programming after school.

SJB also recognizes that technology, while a potential tool for learning, can also be an issue (e.g. distraction).  Thus, SJB promotes a socially safe school culture, free of cyberbullying and other threats in our community through restricting cellphone usage, and use of online social media (e.g. Facebook) during school hours. Parent volunteers undergo background checks compliant with the Archdiocese policies, and such training is provided to increase awareness of online threats.  The school also offers seminars where parents can meet to discuss and learn about important parenting issues, which can include navigating through issues arising from information technology. Back to top.

6. Does SJB offer any special learning or language programs?

SJB has an outstanding Title III ELL (English Language Learners) program.  ELL programs are designed to ensure that children with limited English proficiency, including immigrant children, meet the same challenging academic content standards as native speakers.  SJB provides non-native speakers with certified ELL-teacher support to master academic English in order to better thrive in school and everyday life in America.

We have a designated Resource Teacher who works with children as early as Kindergarten who need additional assistance in specific subject areas. Students are provided time to work one-on-one with our Resource Teacher during school hours, as needed.

SJB also provides Spanish classes beginning in Kindergarten, who receive 2 classes each week from K-4th grade, and 3 classes each week from 5th through 8th grade.  SJB strives for Spanish to be the primary language spoken by 7th and 8th grade, so that students entering high school can begin at higher Spanish levels. Back to top.

7. Can you tell us more about SJB teachers?

Our teachers choose to teach at SJB because of their love of learning and desire to influence the next generation of children.  Currently, we have 24 teachers and 3 teacher aides. 18 of 24 teachers hold Master’s degrees.   11 of 24 teachers that have been teaching at SJB for more than 10 years, and 18 teachers have been teaching at SJB for at least 5 years.  The ratio is 15:1 students to teachers. Details on SJB faculty, including the principal, can be found hereBack to top.

8. Can you tell us more about the student and families attending SJB?

SJB has about 180 families in the school. There are several annual traditions that have a 90%+ turnout.  Many families volunteer to make these annual traditions a success.

Over the past five years, our student body ranged from 230 – 265, where Kindergarten has a maximum of 26 students (13:1 student to teacher ratio), and Grades 1-8 have a maximum of 30 students. About 80% of our population is Roman Catholic.  In 2015, the demographic composition of our school was 40% White, 24% African and African-American, 15% Asian and Asian/American, 11% Hispanic, and 10% Mixed or Other. Back to top.

9. What extracurricular activities are offered at SJB?

SJB participates in Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) sport teams and intramurals sports including:

  • Soccer (Intramurals for grades K-2, and CYO for grades 3 – 8)
  • Basketball (Intramurals for grades K-2, intramurals for grades 3-6, and CYO for grades 3-8)
  • T-ball  (Intramurals for grades K-2, and CYO for grades 3-8)
  • Volleyball (Intramurals for grades 6-8)
  • Baseball (CYO for grades 3-8)
  • Flag football

SJB also provides a several kinds of extracurricular activities beyond sports (e.g. STEM, music, miscellaneous activities) including:

  • Chess club (K-8)
  • Robotics club (K-8)
  • Coding club (Grades 2 – 8)
  • Altar servers (Grades 4 – 8)
  • Student Council (Grades 3 – 8)
  • Band (Grades 4-8)
  • Choir (Grades 3-8)
  • Patrols (Grade 6)
  • Boy Scouts (All grades)
  • Girl Scouts (All grades)
  • Yearbook (Grades 7-8)

Note: Some extracurricular activities may have additional fees for registration. Back to top.

10. I am a new family with a soon-to-be kindergartener.  Can you tell me about the admission process for us?

Kindergarten applicants must be 5 years old by September 1.  Before the start of the school year, prospective kindergarteners complete an entrance screening, which is typically scheduled February-March before the year they matriculate in the Fall school year. The kindergarten screening for the 2017-2018 year is scheduled for February 16, 2017 at 8:30am to 12:30pm.

The purpose of the screening is to assess kindergarten readiness, which will focus on five areas: language, visual, auditory, fine motor and gross motor skills. Parents who applied to SJB would receive an invitation and instructions after applying to SJB to discuss the results with the principal prior to the start of the school year. Back to top.

11. How do I apply to SJB?

Applications to SJB are completed through TADS, which is an online registration system with phone technical support. Applications open on December 6, 2016 and close on March 8, 2017. Information can be found on the SJB website here.

In February, SJB screens new families prior to the Fall school year.  The 2017-2018 screening dates for 1st through 8th graders is scheduled for February 24, 2016. Kindergarteners will be screened on February 16, 2017Back to top.

12. What opportunities are available for me to visit and learn about the school?

For the 2017 – 2018 school year, SJB will host three open houses:

  • Tuesday, December 6, 2016 (6pm to 8pm)
  • Monday, December 12, 2016 (9am to 11am)
  • Friday, January 27, 2017 (9am to 11am)

We also offer opportunities to tour the school with the principal each Wednesday in February 2017 from 8:30 to 9:15am. There may be opportunity to visit the school outside of these times. Contact SJB School Office for details.

We welcome new families to join SJB prior to applying for the school year.  In the spring, we offer T-ball to families with young children, and also have an SJB Arts and Academics Festival scheduled for March 8, 2017. We also welcome Pre-K children to participate in intramural soccer in the Fall. If you are interested in visiting some of the Spring school activities, contact the school office, so that we can designate a parent ambassador to provide assistance. Back to top.

13. What costs and commitments can I expect for my child(ren) to attend SJB?

We strive to make tuition affordable for families.  The Catholic rate is $7,750 per child, and the non-Catholic rate is $8,850 per child for the 2016-2017 school year.  Among registered contributing parishioners with two or more children, the parish offers tiered tuition assistance, which would be deducted from the tuition rate.

Each year, families are charged an activity fee ($175), and there is a book fee charged per child ($150).  While we offer a uniform bank where donated uniforms are available for all families for no additional cost, families can purchase new uniforms, which range between $90 – 130 dollars for the entire PE uniform (i.e. shirts, shorts, pants, jacket), and $70 - $130 for the entire regular-day uniform (i.e. pants, jumper/skirt, button-down shirt.) 

We also ask that each family serve lunch-recess duty for five days each school year.  Should families choose to opt-out at the beginning of the school year, they may pay $150, or $40 for each day that they do not serve. Some extracurricular activities may include additional registration fees. Any adult (i.e. grandparent, older sibling, parent) can serve lunch duty as long as they complete a background check required by the Archdiocese for volunteers overseeing young children.

If families decide to enroll their students in before or aftercare programs, the costs are tabulated each month through an automated system online, which has a $30 registration fee.  Morning rates are $8 per day.  After Care is $8 per hour, prorated by the minute.  We offer a 25% discount for the second child attending after care, and additional children after the first two can attend aftercare for free. Back to top.

14. What financial assistance is available to my family?

We encourage all families requiring financial assistance to first apply through the Archdiocese of Washington Tuition Assistance Program. The Archdiocese offers tuition assistance programs for Pre-K through 12th grade.  Financial aid, which are supported from initiatives such as the Cardinal’s Appeal and Catholic church contributions, set the available amounts that can be offered, and disbursements are determined based on each year’s applicant pool’s financial need. Designated assistance programs are also available for minority students. Information is available here.

For the 2017-2018 year, returning families must complete the request by December 2, 2016.  New families must complete their financial assistance applications no later than February 22, 2017.

On a case-by-case basis, SJB can provide additional assistance (funded through the parish) for families who could not obtain sufficient assistance from the Archdiocese of Washington.  These funds are limited and are supported from parish contributions and school fundraisers throughout the year.  SJB only considers these cases for families who have first applied through the Archdiocese. Further, we also offer tuition assistance to contributing parish families who have multiple children attending SJB. Tuition assistance and family assistance rates are provided hereBack to top.

15. What does the National Blue Ribbon designation really mean?

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program represents a trademark of excellence and symbol of quality recognized by parents, policymakers and others across the nation.

It is important to clarify that the National Blue Ribbon designation can recognize schools on either exemplary high performance, or in closing the achievement gap among disadvantaged schools. However, private schools are not eligible for obtaining the National Blue Ribbon designation for closing achievement gaps and can only be nominated if they are an exemplary high performing school.

To fulfill this criteria, private school students must place in the top 15% of the nation in reading/language arts and mathematics as measured by a nationally normed test or in the top 15 percent of its state on a state test for the year they are tested. Subgroups, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds must also score similarly. If the school administers both state and nationally normed tests, they must score in the top 15% in both. Details on public and private eligibility requirements are found here

Once a school receives their designation, they are considered a National Blue Ribbon school, and are not required to reapply. The year the school sought nomination must be listed, and schools can choose to reapply for the designation. There is no required renewal process to maintain the National Blue Ribbon designation. Back to top.

16. What food options are offered to the students for lunch?

Families may have children bring their own lunches to school.  We also offer a daily lunch option, catered by LunchBox, as well as a Thursday Hot Lunch. Parents can select from an online menu the month prior to purchase lunches from LunchBox, which are delivered to their child(ren) each day. Typically, students have lunch in their classrooms on Monday – Wednesday and Fridays.  On Hot Lunch Thursdays, students meet in the gym together as a school to receive their Hot Lunch, and younger students are paired with older students to facilitate school comradery. Back to top.

17. My child is transferring from another school.  What opportunities are available for him/her to meet fellow classmates?

We are open to having your child shadow the school for a day.  If you are interested, please contact the school office for assistance.

We also invite prospective families to participate in our annual traditions that occur year round.  For students interested in intramurals, T-ball for younger children is offered in the Spring, and soccer is offered in the Fall. Pre-K students can participate.

There are also some specific annual activities that you may attend.  We recommend considering:

    • Arts and Academics (Art and science fair program for Grades 5 – 8 occurring in March)
    • Spring Band concert
    • Annual Spring Sing Show (A musical play performed by Grades 5—8 )
    • Monthly Mass (hosted by a different grade each month)
    • Annual Christmas Show (A musical of the Christmas Story presented by the entire student body for school families.)

A Parent Ambassador can meet with you if you choose to attend one of SJB annual traditions.  Contact the school for more details. Back to top.

18. Where do SJB students go after they graduate?

Over the past five years, most 8th graders have chosen to attend Catholic/private high schools. Some students have chosen to attend public high schools. 

It is important to note that the Catholic high school admissions process is uniquely competitive and can vary depending on the high school of interest.  In general, students complete a high school assessment, which is a standardized placement test required for Archdiocese high schools.  This score, the student’s grades and in some cases, an interview, make up the admission process. Some Catholic high schools may have a separate admissions process described on their website.

At SJB, our students have all been accepted by private high schools.  Last year, students were accepted by the following schools and were offered $216,000 in academic scholarships:

  • Academy of the Holy Cross
  • DeMatha Catholic High School
  • Elizabeth Seton High School
  • Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School
  • Gonzaga College High School
  • Loyola Blakefield
  • Mount de Sales Academy
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel High School
  • Saint John’s College High School
  • Sidwell Friends School
  • St. Vincent Pallotti High School

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