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A Letter from the Director of Student Life

Dear Priory Family,

I hope you are have had a restful and enjoyable summer! At the end of each May, I think that most students and teachers are ready for the summer break. The summer allows us to slow down a bit and recharge. My hope is that by the end of August, most of us are refreshed and ready to start another school year at Priory.

The highlight of my summer was going to Santiago, Chile with Father Francis, Mr. Oberle, and 26 Priory students. The trip was a powerful experience that will help strengthen Priory’s Tutoria program and improve student life on campus. The trip also challenged me to think about Benedictine education and spirituality and how it shapes life at Priory. 

Having returned from Chile, I am feeling energized as I assume my role as Director of Student Life at Priory. As I evaluate student life on campus, I am looking for ways to improve the student experience. My greatest resource for improving student life is you. As a parent or as a current student, you have a perspective of our school that I do not. Therefore, please feel free to come to me and share your ideas about how student life can be improved on our campus.

Getting to Know You

An area of focus for me in this first year as Director of Student Life will be strengthening relationships among the Priory community. A great thing about Priory is its size. It’s a small enough place that we know each other, and no one can remain anonymous for very long. One of my goals for this year will be to get to know every single student in the school. I will interact with many of you on a daily basis in the classroom or through other activities, but there are many of you who may not interact with me as often. Those students should feel free to come by and chat in my office in the high school, and they should not be surprised if I ask them to talk at some point this year. I think that these personal connections will allow me to better serve the needs of the student body.

A Note on Attendance

Like the monastery at the center of our campus, the school is a community. In order to live in community, the monks commit their time and energy to one another. In a similar way students and faculty must make these same commitments in order to intentionally build strong relationships. The primary commitment that we make to one another is our presence. The school day is intentionally structured with this relationship in mind. Most days start with a meeting in advisory, which is a small group that builds its own community over the course of the year. After the advisory meeting we meet together in assembly or at Mass as a school community. This time together may seem inconvenient on some mornings, but the shared experience builds a sense of togetherness that grows over the course of a year. When students are frequently absent from advisory meetings, assemblies, Mass, or classes, these communities are damaged. This year I would like to encourage students and their families to make attendance a priority. Repeated unexcused absences or tardy arrivals will be documented and addressed immediately. My hope is that this vigilance with attendance will ensure that students do not disconnect from their many communities at Priory.

Changes in Discipline

Building relationships also requires communication, and with that concept in mind the disciplinary system at Priory will be altered. In the classrooms and in the hallways of Priory, we hold each other accountable for contributing positively to the life of the school. For many years a tool for accountability has been the demerit card, but its effectiveness has waned in the high school in recent years.

In the past, the demerit system may have stopped misbehavior in the moment, but it also ceased communication and “hid” the misbehavior in a student’s pocket until a fifth demerit was received. This lack of communication and lack of transparency created problems when patterns of misbehavior were not identified and discussed immediately. In an effort to make discipline more transparent and communicative in the 2015-2016 academic year, high school students will not be issued demerit cards.

Without the demerit system, teachers will make a special effort to establish communication with students, parents, and administrators. If a student is repeatedly misbehaving, teachers will first attempt to talk to the student and establish expectations about classroom behavior focused on a mutual respect. If that conversation is not productive, parents will be contacted and made aware of a boy’s misbehavior. If this conversation with the parents does not result in a positive change, then the student will be issued a disciplinary referral. A disciplinary referral will automatically initiate a meeting of the boy, his parents, the teacher, and the Director of Student Life. This meeting will establish a course of action for the boy as well as outline more severe consequences if expectations are not met. Full details on the new discipline procedures can be found in the Student Handbook.

It is my hope that this transparent system of discipline that focuses on communication will result in a more meaningful experience of formation for students. It puts trust in a student’s intrinsic motivation to contribute to the strength of the community rather than relying on an external force that demands conformity.

Student Life

When I think about Student Life on Priory’s campus, my goal is for every student to feel like he is a part of a community that knows him and cares for him. We are all a part of the larger Priory family, but what makes us feel that sense of community usually happens at a smaller scale.

It happens in advisory, or the classroom, or on the playing field. It happens when we pursue interests outside the curriculum and join a club or other student activity. Therefore I want to encourage all students to get involved and choose to be a part of something. If the selection of student activities does not appeal to you then come and talk to me about what does.

Enjoy these last few days of summer! I look forward to welcoming you back to a community that needs you!


Michael Nickolai
Michael Nickolai

Director of Student Life

“Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.”

Prologue, 1

“This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.”

Prologue, 1

“First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.”

Prologue, 4

“If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim. (Ps 33[34]:13)”

Prologue, 17

“Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom (1 Thess 2:12).”

Prologue, 21

“If we wish to dwell in the tent of this kingdom, we will never arrive unless we run there by doing good deeds.”

Prologue, 22

“What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.”

Prologue, 41

“Therefore, we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.”

Prologue, 45

“The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.”

Prologue, 47

“The reason why we have said all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals what is better to the younger.”

Chapter 3, 3

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else.”

Chapter 4, 20-21

“Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love.” –Chapter 4, 25-26

“Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue.”

Chapter 4, 27-28

“Place your hope in God alone.”

Chapter 4, 41

“Respect the elders and love the young.”

Chapter 4, 70-71

“Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ. “

Chapter 4, 72

“If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.”

Chapter 4, 73

“The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all.”

Chapter 5, 1-2

“Speaking and teaching are the master’s task; the disciple is to be silent and listen.”

Chapter 6, 6

“The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (PS 35[36]:2) and never forgets it.”

Chapter 7, 10

“Let us consider, then, how we ought to behave in the presence of God and his angels, and let us stand to sing the psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.”

Chapter 19, 6-7

“On arising for the Work of God, they will quietly encourage each other, for the sleepy like to make excuses.”

Chapter 22, 8

“Every age and level of understanding should receive appropriate treatment.”

Chapter 30, 1

“Above all, let him be humble. If goods are not available to meet a request, he will offer a kind word in reply, for it is written: A kind word is better than the best gift (Sir 18:17).”

Chapter 31, 13-14

“Let all the rest serve one another in love.”

Chapter 35, 6

“Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God.”

Chapter 43, 3

“Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor as well as for prayerful reading.”

Chapter 48, 1

“The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent.”

Chapter 49, 1

“All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35).”

Chapter 53, 1

“Proper honor must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims.”

Chapter 53, 2

“(B)ecause wherever we may be, we are in the service of the same Lord and doing battle for the same King.”

Chapter 61, 10

They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other (Rom 12:10).”

Chapter 63, 17

“We wish this rule to be read often in the community, so that none of the brothers can offer the excuse of ignorance.”

Chapter 66, 8

“Trusting in God’s help, he must in love obey.”

Chapter 68, 5

Never to do another what you do not want done to yourself (Tob 4:16).”

Chapter 70, 7

“No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else.”

Chapter 72, 7

“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.”

Chapter 72, 11-12

“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life?”

Chapter 73, 3

“What book of the holy catholic Fathers does not resoundingly summon us along the true way to reach the Creator?”

Chapter 73, 4


Saint Louis Abbey

Saint Louis Priory School

500 South Mason Road
St. Louis, MO 63141
P. 314.434.3690    F.314.576.7088
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