During the mid-sixties, grades seven and eight were dropped because of a lack of Sisters to teach the students and because of a drop in enrollment. During these years, St. John’s School, along with many other Catholic schools, experienced a shift in its teaching staff from Religious Sisters to lay teachers. St. John’s School is very fortunate still to have the benefits and blessings of three Sisters of Mercy on its staff!
The 1980s and 1990s, under the direction of Father Ralph Bauer, brought about additional renovations and technological advances to the school. The convent building was converted into additional office space and a new building project was underway, housing our present day cafeteria and the gym along with a new library, art and music room, and additional classrooms.
In September of 1987, the school began its first Pre-K program with one teacher and thirteen students. As the student population continued to increase, the need for more space became once again apparent. In the fall of 1996, the school began discussion about restoring the 7th and 8th grades. With the support of the parish, under the guidance of the Pastor, Father James West, the 7th grade was reestablished in the fall of 1998, and the 8th grade became part of the school in the fall of 1999. Building expansions of the 1990 gym building included additional classroom space to accommodate the junior high level students and the addition of a youth room. A new state-of-the-art Science lab was also included with this expansion, which was completed in time for our first 8th grade graduation in over 30 years, in the year 2000. The Callahan Computer Lab, which offers wireless internet access throughout the school, continues to evolve and is updated to respond to the changing needs of global IT. At the start of the 2003-04 school year, a second Pre-K class was added.
Today, St. John’s School, still located at 583 West Grand Avenue in Hot Springs, continues to offer coeducational classes for students in grades Pre-Kindergarten 3-year-olds through 8th grade with the support of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and its Catholic Community, St. Mary of the Springs Catholic Church in downtown Hot Springs, and Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Hot Springs Village.
St. John’s School offers a comprehensive and well-rounded educational environment where students are loved, nurtured, and helped to develop physically, spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually into mature Christians, capable of making free choices in the light of the Gospel. St. John’s is a place where all involved form a family which ministers together to provide a loving, safe Christian environment where all feel accepted and respected and where each member of the family is challenged, encouraged, and empowered to develop into a whole person who uses his/her gifts to build up the Reign of God. We realize that our families have a choice and oftentimes make sacrifices in order to provide their children the opportunity to attend Catholic school. Tuition is therefore kept at a minimum and we rely heavily on the support of our Hot Springs business partners and community in order to alleviate some of these extra burdens and financial constraints. It is truly a blessing to be able to share this ministry of educating our youth—our future—and we are grateful for the support of our wider Hot Springs Community in their educational partnership towards this endeavor.
St. John’s School offers a rigorous academic program, adhering to the curriculum guidelines established by the Catholic Schools of Arkansas, Diocese of Little Rock. St. John’s also offers Religious studies, Spanish, Art, Computer Science, Library, Music, Physical Education, and Latin. Athletic participation includes team sports through the Little Rock Parochial League. Students are also exposed to fine arts activities and are provided opportunities to participate in play performances, academic competitions, writing competitions, and science fairs. They also share their musical talents at church and in the community.
May God continue to support our educational ministry as St. John’s Catholic School embraces its 108th year of Catholic education here in Hot Springs, Arkansas.