Statement on MIAA Football from Deacon Curtis Turner, Principal
Statement on MIAA Football
Saint Frances Academy is a Catholic, college-preparatory school that intentionally seeks to serve those who otherwise would not have access to a Catholic education. Founded in 1828, our original mission was to “teach children of color to read the Bible”, an illegal act in the slave state of Maryland at the time. For 190 years, we have stood as a beacon of hope for those trapped by poverty, despair, racial injustice and lack of educational opportunity. With the help and support of a diverse cross-section of the greater Baltimore community, we are a thriving little school that constantly defies the odds, perseveres in the face of hardship and, by the grace of God, overcomes any obstacle. Sadly, at the same time, for the past 190 years, elements of our society have been opposed to our noble mission and opposed to our very existence.
Reading the recent statement from Mount Saint Joseph High School and Calvert Hall College High School about our athletic league in general and Saint Frances Academy in particular has exposed a rift in the Baltimore community that many of us know exists, but few of us are willing to address. My community was angered and hurt by the insinuation that we don’t share the same values as other members. This is particularly harmful coming from other Catholic schools.
The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association is comprised of schools that are big and small, religious and secular, old and new. Its strength is in its diversity. With the exception of our social-economic demographic, we resemble any other private school in Baltimore. But it is that difference that is driving the current dynamic in the league.
The majority of our students live at or below the poverty-line. Our school drastically changes the trajectory of their lives for the better. Our students leave here with a future that was unimaginable for many of them before matriculation. We operate two dormitories because some of our students are from cities plagued with the same ills as Baltimore but, there is no Saint Frances Academy to serve them And for our students from Baltimore who live on campus, they are experiencing the safety and stability that allows them to excel academically and spiritually. This year’s graduating class will attend schools like Duke, Georgetown, Michigan State, Tuskegee and Maryland. Our 41 graduates have earned approximately $4.1 million in merit-based scholarships. And furthermore, we compete in a league where the average tuition is nearly $20,000. Our tuition is less than half of that. The fact that our students excel and compete on the highest level, despite these challenges, should be applauded, not criticized.
It should be noted that Saint Frances Academy is the oldest Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. If anything, historically, we should be credited with setting the standard by which a Catholic school in Baltimore should be measured. Instead, these nefarious elements seek to destroy rather than build. They seek to divide rather than unify. In fact, it is our uniqueness that makes us a great fit for the league and an asset to the City of Baltimore. We are deeply saddened that others do not see that.
In the prayer for the canonization of our foundress, Mother Mary Lange, we say, “Mother Mary Lange’s love for all enabled her to see Christ in each person, and the pain of prejudice and racial hatred never blurred her vision.” Following Mother Lange’s example, we will not allow hatred and anger to consume us. Rather, I personally invite those who do not know us to visit the school and experience its history and spirit firsthand. Our hope is that they will and that they will see Christ in us as well.
However, if they persist in their efforts to isolate us, Saint Frances Academy is a resilient community. We have a long history of overcoming insurmountable odds and we never back down from a challenge. We will compete in football and other sports. We will continue to prepare our students for college and beyond. And most importantly, we will continue to graduate faith-filled young men and women.
Deacon Curtis Turner, Ed.D.
Saint Frances Academy