Accelerate October 2022

OCTOBER 2022 MAGAZINE 17 On a brisk morning in September of 1884, the Rev. Sydney T. Smythe, a 21-year old Episcopal priest and recent graduate from nearby Nashotah House Seminary, reopened a school named St. John’s Hall. Young, energetic and determined, Sydney Smythe committed himself to completing a dream. The dream was that of his mentor, Dr. James DeKoven, whom Sydney had met as a young, 15-year old boy attending Racine College in Racine, Wisconsin. The boy had grown into a man; and now the man stood on the doorstep of a 39-year educational adventure. As Reverend Smythe looked upon his initial class of students, he saw looking back at him 19-day students and one boarding student; they were attending a coeducational, college preparatory school. He had done it! He had honored the memory of his mentor by breathing life back into St. John’s Hall. Sydney made his mentor’s motto of “Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard” the guiding principles of his academy. He embraced change, sought the growth of his school and eagerly accepted challenges in each new day. Change came quickly. Military drill became part of the curriculum through the efforts of General Charles King, leading to the new name of St. John’s Military Academy in 1886. By 1887, the Academy housed 12 boarding students. 1888 marked the last year for female students. St. John’s Military Academy became an all-boys school for the next 130 years. On a September day in 1888, another all-boys military academy opened in the Midwest. Harlan Page Davidson purchased an old hotel and five acres of land in Highland Park, Illinois and started Northwestern Military Academy. Davidson began the Academy based on his values of firm discipline and wholesome, high standards where young men respected structure, discipline and high ideals. Both schools grew quickly in cadet numbers and in campus structures. In 1911, Northwestern Military Academy purchased 50 acres of land from Keyes Park in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and changed to Northwestern Military and Naval Academy. Wisconsin now claimed two premier leadership academies. ST. JOHN'S NORTHWESTERN ACADEMIES RETURNS TO ITS ROOTS