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Ken Barry, '94, speaks to Junior School students

ken barryRight before Christmas break, Priory alumnus Ken Barry, class of 1994, spent some time in the Kevin Kline Theatre with junior school students. He shared his story of how he came to Priory, his decision to stick with the program, and the positive impact it has had on his life.

Ken grew up in North County, making the 25-minute commute each morning with his mother as she drove to work. It was difficult at first, as he felt as though he were leaving all his friends behind in Berkeley. He grew up about a mile and a half away from where Michael Brown was killed, and reflected on how things have changed since he was a child. He spoke about the decisions he made that took him out of that environment, which changed the trajectory of his life. He had considered himself an athlete first, even though he did well academically, too.

He struggled in 7th grade, mostly because he wanted to be with his friends. He wanted to leave Priory and go back to Berkeley, or even to another private school. His mother convinced him to stay through 8th grade, telling him he could always make a decision about high school at that point. What happened, though, over the next two years, was life-changing. “The brotherhood began to form,” he said. “That type of brotherhood is irreplaceable. Look around. The guys you’re sitting next to right now, in 20, 30 or 40 years you’ll be able to call them and rely on them.”

Ken went from saying, “No way am I gonna stay” at the beginning of 7th grade to “No way am I gonna leave” by the end of 8th grade. He had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and learned through a lot of new experiences. He said, “I had a lot of tough love here, and my teachers and coaches were able to give me the right role models to set my sights on.” He began to ask himself, “How can I create my own legacy?” He chose a path that allowed him to deal with adversity and overcome it. “Priory represented a unique way I could set goals and go after them personally. The brotherhood began to be forged through what we could do both academically and athletically. We had the best experiences, working together to beat Burroughs, Country Day, and Lutheran North. You’ll understand what it means to beat Burroughs and Country Day soon! Like me, you’ll make long-lasting friends and memories, and you, too, will be able to sit back and reflect on your time at Priory.”

He continued, “Priory is difficult; I don’t want to sugar coat it. PE in the middle of the day, then go back for three more classes? It’s no different than being studious after practice in college. Time management is critical; it may not be fun to have athletics in the middle of the day but it’ll help you later. The program here allows you to develop well-rounded skills. A lot of schools remain focused only on academics, but at Priory you learn to remain focused on the right things even when it’s not convenient.”

Ken Barry yearbook photosKen played football and basketball at Priory, and ran track. He held junior school track records in the 200, and high school football records for rushing. Mr. Fiala said that Ken’s all-time rushing record still stands. He had started playing football when he was 10, and also enjoyed soccer and basketball. His football experience earned him a spot on the Rebel varsity team as a freshman. “My entire athletic experience is something I treasure,” he said.

His sports experience at Priory led him to play football at Notre Dame. He chose the cold weather of South Bend, Indiana because of the balance the school offered. “I could get a top-notch education and play football on television every weekend!”

He said, “Education here is one of the better college prep experiences that you can have. I found that going from Priory to Notre Dame to what I’m doing now, most of the things I’ve learned have been transferrable throughout. The curriculum here is solid from a college prep standpoint.” He credits Priory with learning how to study and acquiring self-discipline. “I had to learn when to focus on athletics and when on academics and when on my social life. Having that balance was critical, and those skills transferred to Notre Dame and beyond.”

Ken played for Lou Holtz at Notre Dame, who said at his first meeting, “I already know all about you!” Priory’s network of alumni and alumni parents had reached out on Ken’s behalf, and he is thankful for the selfless people in the Priory family. He told the junior schoolers, “The school will be here to support you every step of the way.” Mr. Holtz told him that choosing Notre Dame was much more than a four-year decision, it was a 40-year decision. Ken said, “I made a decision bigger than that already, when I chose to come to Priory. I made the decision to leave North County and go on a six-year journey that got me out of St. Louis, and the ability to see things on a national scale.” He was able to use his experiences at Priory to succeed at Notre Dame. “I had classmates from all over the country and I wasn’t able to play football right away, so it was critical for me to be able to succeed despite the obstacles.” He persevered, and started senior year, playing his first game at The Big House in Michigan. He also referenced playing at USC in the Colosseum as an experience that stands out in his memory. In the same breath, he spoke about playing football at Priory. He remembers scoring a touchdown against Country Day, sending the team to the playoffs for a winner-take-all game in the snow. The following year, the Rebels defeated Burroughs in a big game, and he said walking off the field with his team after that win forged a brotherhood he still feels today. “What I was able to do here can never be replicated,” he said.

A shoulder injury ended his hopes for an NFL career, and Ken suddenly found himself looking for a job. “Now I’m competing with everyone,” he said. “Every college graduate is also applying for jobs.” He felt like he was three months behind his competitors, but persevered. He was offered a position at Ernst & Young, and he credits the foundation he had from Priory and his Notre Dame double-major in marketing and computer science. He now lives in Atlanta and is a partner in a consulting firm, working with companies like Microsoft, Starbucks, Tiffany’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Thom’s Shoes, and Sony. He’s still an athlete, and has picked up running. “My friends call me Forrest Gump,” he laughed. “I got up early and ran eight miles this morning, before getting on a plane and coming here to meet with you.”

He addressed the junior schoolers directly. “You all are in the beginning of your six-year journey. You have an opportunity to build a foundation and really grow and become a Priory man. This decision will pay dividends for you throughout high school, college and beyond. You made a decision to come here, you’re going to go through a lot and experience changes. Alumni are here to help you.” He told the boys about the message on the football helmets at Vanderbilt when the school was trying to get its program back on track. “It said WIN, which stands for What’s Important Now. That’s a good perspective to keep in mind.”

Many thanks to Ken Barry, and his mother, for returning to Priory and spending time with current students.

“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


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