Dear Families and Friends:
These past few weeks Ozark Catholic Academy has continued to move toward our goal of opening the doors in August. I would like to share with you four reasons for our continued momentum:
Who is Ozark Catholic
Who is Ozark Catholic Academy
It was said during our Open House that the reality of who we are, Ozark Catholic Academy, would not have happened without the dedication and hard work from our predecessors over the past 25 years. I believe the groundwork laid by those who came before us coupled with the prayers of the NWA Catholic Community have guided us to the point we are today.
Around 200 people were in attendance at our second Open House. The day was truly a celebration. The families that participated were there to consider OCA as an option for their student. The small discussions were in-depth and personal. I have been blessed to meet and discuss with families their ideas and answer questions they have in choosing the right high school for their family. Some families traveled from as far away as Charleston and Ft. Smith to learn more about OCA.
We currently have 12 applications for students representing Fayetteville, Farmington, Tontitown, Rogers and Bentonville. It is a balanced student body of six freshmen and six sophomores. Two students, Mary Helen Schaefer and Joey Patch shared their thoughts about why OCA is the right fit for them. Some of our female students modeled potential OCA plaids. After Spring Break, we will begin voting on the plaid that will become the school uniform. Additionally, we are thankful for the recent support and partnership with RootEd a local non-profit whose mission is to get the word out to NWA about their school options. They have helped us explore more avenues with our Latino and Marshallese communities.
Tell your family and friends about OCA as we are working on our next 15 students!
I am currently visiting with a number of teachers who are interested in Ozark Catholic Academy. I am looking at seasoned teachers as well as young teachers with vibrant, fresh ideas. Teacher candidates have come from Nebraska, Kansas, Texas and our own state, Arkansas. We have one family currently living and teaching in Afghanistan who has contacted us. The cluster of faculty that will make up the founding faculty will be key to implementing the vision we have for our school. Christianity will flow not just in outward appearances, but also in the ebb and flow of the day-to-day life of the school. High academics is the tradition in which Catholic schools are known and we fully believe we will be strong in the classroom from the very beginning. Faculty members will be engaged with our students in a personal and formative way. Not only with a personal learning environment, where students and teachers will be challenged to grow intellectually, but also outside of the classroom. Faculty members will meet with students in advisory and personally get to know students. Advisory is one of the school’s pillars to assist in the academic, personal and spiritual growth of each student. We will continue to interview potential faculty and make announcements in early spring. The word is getting out about OCA. Please continue to let teachers know about us as we continue to accept inquiries.
At the Open House and through social media, we have announced our mascot, the Griffin. In December and January, students at our parochial schools, St. Joseph in Fayetteville and St. Vincent de Paul in Rogers, with parish religious education students in our local parishes, nominated and voted on the mascot. This mythological creature has been etched on the walls of Mesopotamia, placed on heraldic coats of arms during the Middle Ages, and used by Dante toward the end of his poem, The Purgatorio. Dante describes the griffin as a great beast with the head of an eagle and body of a lion. In the poem, the gold head of an eagle represents the divine, while the red body of the lion represents the earthly or mortal. The golden eagle’s head is symbolic of Christ as God and the red lion body is the humanity of which Christ sacrificed himself for the salvation of man. Much can be said about the unique Christian symbolism of the Griffin. We are proud to be called the Griffins!
Volunteers are what has made Ozark Catholic Academy a reality. Without the men, women and families overall who have given their time, treasure and talent, myself or my family would not be here today. Over 20 volunteers made the Open House happen and continue to serve OCA in some way. Robb Yarnell has done a fantastic job with preparing our lunches for the two Open Houses. Others have truly assisted us in creating the images and literature, labeling water bottles, gathering the lunch items, serving lunch and working the check-in table. I am thankful for the generous commitment of all of our volunteers.
We look for more of you to join us over the next five months and beyond as we reach a milestone of progress in offering Catholic education Northwest Arkansas.
I ask you to “Join the Journey!”
John E. Rocha, Sr.