The Chesterton Academy Gala

Here in the Twin Cities one of the biggest and best events on the “Catholic social calendar” is the annual Chesterton Academy Gala. Because we have a team of Missionary Educators serving at Chesterton Academy and share offices with the Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton (the canonical sponsor of both Chesterton Academy and Teach for Christ) Teach for Christ always sponsors a table and a bunch of us go.

This year’s gala was a blast for the usual reasons plus one special one for us.

The Teach for Christ Team serving at Chesterton Academy, Lucas Berke, Sophia Rick, Colby Cantillon (from left to right).

The Teach for Christ Team serving at Chesterton Academy, Lucas Berke, Sophia Rick, Colby Cantillon (from left to right).

The usual reasons come down to Chesterton himself who understood that one of the great privileges and duties of Catholics was to celebrate. Unlike a lot of very tedious annual fundraisers, from its very beginning a decade ago the Chesterton Gala was created to be a real party, a joyful community-building event. The Chesterton students provide entertainment via the all-school choir, small singing groups, a dance team, and even a ukulele orchestra. The evening ends with dancing to the Chestertones, a big band led by Chesterton parents. Chesterton students, required to learn dancing in support of civilized interaction with the opposite gender, generally outshine the grown-ups on the dance floor, though some of the old folk really boogie.

The Chesterton Gala has one other great thing going for it: Dale Ahlquist, co-founder of the Academy and President of the Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton, always gives a talk, which always has a great point, but along the way it includes a stand-up comedy routine that would make him a headliner in Vegas.

As for the special reason we loved the Gala this year, this year Dale included in his a fine, extended shout out for Teach for Christ, acknowledging the work we have been doing at Chesterton Academy for going on three years.  In those three years, we have sent some of our best teams to the Academy.

In the first full year that we sent teams into multiple schools, we sent Missionary Educators Colby Cantillon and Lucas Berke. Colby stayed on as a second-year missionary teaching Latin and serving as Assistant Athletic Director. Lucas is now a full-time faculty member at Chesterton teaching in the sciences. This academic year we added Missionary Educator Sophia Rick, a mathematician both beautiful and brainy, has designed a math-skills evaluation program for the students, set up a tutoring program, and who also has co-taught the Academy’s advanced mathematics senior seminar.

It has not all been a one-way street, however. Chesterton Academy has been a huge help to Teach for Christ!. Headmaster Dave Beskar, who as a young man was also part of a lay religious community devoted to education, has given crucial advice and instruction from before we even launched the program. And Chesterton’s Head of Math and Science Faculty and Dean of Women, Theresa Krueger leads TfC summer training and evaluation programs as Chief Education Officer. Theresa is particularly devoted to forming Missionaries in the specific vocation of Catholic School Educator.

All in all, the Chesterton gala was a great celebration of a wonderful Catholic High School and a great partner for Teach for Christ.

Theresa Krueger