Years in a Pennsylvania boarding school created a passion and vision for education for a local Fort Scottian.
Daniel Kerr’s experience altered him.
“It was a life-changing experience,” Kerr said.
Since that time Kerr has had an interest in developing a boarding school that would incorporate farming into the school curriculum and has been working towards that vision and laying the groundwork.
“This is not a reform school,” Kerr said. ” This will be for kids of high character and goodwill. There is a fairly rigorous application process and an in-person interview with parents and prospective students.”
Thus plans were begun for constructing St. Martin’s Academy, a boys Catholic boarding school.
The Kerr Family Estate deeded to St. Martin’s Academy about five acres of land west of Fort Scott on Indian Road.
Daniel Kerr met with the bishop and vicar-general of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita to tell them of his vision.
“They are enthusiastic and have been supportive of our plans,” he said.
In October 2017 construction began of phase one, Theotokos Hall.
Kevin Klassen Construction, Kansas City, is the main contractor, Kerr said. The architect is Greg Madeen, Durango, CO, who does alternative energy construction and design.
This month the City of Fort Scott granted the school a land use permit.
Also this month, the footings for the first building were laid.
The footprint of the hall is 74 feet by 36 feet, with a full basement, first floor, and loft area, totaling over 6,000 square feet, Kerr said.
Theotokos Hall is the first and largest building and will be constructed of native oak timbers and stone.
“Overall, the school campus will be situated on five acres with access to 200 acres,” Kerr said. “We live on the property and built a house here. Kerr is married with children.
The school will be using passive solar and hope to have a windmill for electrical and also active solar, he said.
Theokotos Hall will serve the needs of the school for the first year before becoming the permanent dining hall and hearth. It is slated for completion in July 2018.
Eventually, there will be five separate buildings on the site.
By 2022 there is a plan to complete construction on the crowning feature of the campus, a chapel made of native stone.
Patrick Whelan, who will be the new headmaster, has moved to Fort Scott with his family and has been working on the school’s curriculum development and educational compliance, along with recruiting students, Kerr said.
“We are blessed to be able to work together for about 15 months of preparation leading into the first academic year,” Kerr said.
“We’ll be applying for grants, benefactors, and financial partners interested in investing in a bold new adventure in education,” Kerr said.
Some upcoming events for St. Martin’s Academy:
Feb. 9 -10 the academy staff will be hosting the Third Annual Prairie Troubadour Conference in Fort Scott. This year’s topic is “Field and Family: Reflections on a Healthy Human Ecology”, according to information provided. To learn more and to purchase tickets http://prairietroubadour.org/
F.O.R.T Leadership Camp will be offered April 16-22, 2018 and again June 11-17, 2018 for boys ages 12-14. Cost is $500 per session. The young men will learn to build a fire, make a shelter, forage for food, race kayaks, serve mass and butcher a hog, according to information provided. Visit: SaintMartinsAcademy.org/#camp.
For more information view the academy’s website at http://www.saintmartinsacademy.org