My time at St. Peter’s has been a wonderful adventure that I’ll never forget. All the amazing friends and teachers I have had here is what I’ll remember the most.
My sixth grade teacher Ms. Geene inspired me the most. She taught me three things: kindness, math, and effort. She taught me kindness with the way she treated everyone with respect. She taught me math because she’s a great math teacher. She taught me effort because every time I got an answer wrong, she told me to try again. She helped me when I didn’t understand things like fractions. She was always kind even when I got into mischief. From being a great math and science teacher to being the ultimate Clemson fan, Ms. Geene is one of my best teachers ever.
I will always remember my two years at St. Peters and I am sad to leave. It’s been fun and challenging all together here, and I would recommend it to anyone I meet. I can still remember my first days here, and I’ll never forget how courteous everyone was to me, and still is. I am very thankful my parents were able to send me here.
Sim Harmon ’05
In 2005, Sim Harmon graduated from St. Peter’s Catholic School, thus closing an important chapter in his life. He went on to continue his academic career and ultimately graduated from Wofford College in 2013 with a degree in finance.
He worked for UBS Wealth Management in Atlanta for three and a half years before deciding to follow his dreams and move to New York City to pursue a career in financial sales or within the hedge fund world. Before his big move, however, Harmon turned back the pages to his childhood to visit St. Peter’s.
“I wanted to come back to St. Peter’s before I moved to New York. I have such fond memories of my time at St. Peter’s,” says Harmon.
He especially remembers his classmates and teachers. “I think of many things [when I think of St. Peter’s], but mainly the people, both students and teachers. Elementary school is such a formative time in a person’s life, so the memories and people I met will stick with me forever,” says Harmon.
Many of these memories and relationships were fostered by the strong sense of community at St. Peter’s. “You share a lot of the same experiences with a close community of students and teachers. I had the same teacher for second, fifth, and sixth grade (Patti Reuber), and we capped off that close relationship with a fun trip to Barrier Island before graduation,” says Harmon.
Many of these relationships have withstood the test of time. For example, Harmon makes a point of regularly seeing his fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Carol McConkey, when he comes back to Columbia.
The environment at St. Peter’s encourages such strong relationships that Harmon still feels confident in them 12 years later. “Although I don’t keep in touch with as many of my classmates as I should or would have liked, I feel that if I saw any of them today, we would be able to pick up right where we left off. The same goes for teachers and parents,” says Harmon.
This sentiment was affirmed when he visited St. Peter’s. “Ms. Robinson (K4) remembered every little detail about me from my time there, even though I never personally had her as a teacher. I also got to see the parents of two of my classmates (Mrs. Davis and Mrs. El-Khabbaz)! That just shows you how special and close St. Peter’s is.”
During his visit, Harmon toured the school and found that the school’s practices and principles have not changed. “Whenever someone would walk in the classroom, we were required to stand up and greet them formally as a class … I was treated to the same courtesy when I peeked inside each classroom. Little things like that teach you a lot about manners and respect,” says Harmon.
Harmon attributes his academic success in part to these very principles. “I think [St. Peter’s] imparted a sense of structure and discipline in me that a lot of my later peers never got. It becomes very clear in middle school and high school who had structure and discipline growing up, as those who didn’t began to fall on the wayside. At St. Peter’s the focus was on both academics and learning to be a good person,” says Harmon.
Even as he prepares for the next chapter in his life, Harmon took the time to revisit the place that is home to some of his fondest childhood memories. “I loved St. Peter’s and would encourage anyone and everyone to send their children there, even if you aren’t Catholic (like me).”
Benjamin Davis ’03
After graduating from St. Peter’s in 2003 with the academic foundation needed to succeed, Benjamin Davis did just that. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from USC in 2013, a master’s degree in engineering and project management from UC Berkley in 2014 and a PhD in civil engineering from USC in 2016.
“I think the small class sizes and individual attention allowed each of us to reach our potential academically,” says Davis.
Experience outside of the classroom is also very formative. “School trips and extracurricular activities allowed each of us to experiment with new things and eventually start learning more about ourselves.”
Davis says the combination of the two “provided a good foundation for the rest of our school career.”
One school trip stood out in particular. “My favorite memory from St. Peter’s was our sixth-grade class trip to Barrier Island. We spent most of the year doing fundraisers, such as selling popcorn and selling popsicles to other students at recess.”
Their hard work paid off, and Davis and his classmates had quite the memorable trip. “We had a fun time bunking on the island. I remember a bunch of us getting stuck in a mud pit and losing shoes in there. We had to get pulled out by a team of people!”
The comradery between Davis and his classmates was nurtured from the very beginning of their time at St. Peter’s. “When I think back on my time at St. Peter’s, I think of all the time I spent with a class of friends from K5 until graduation.”
Davis also recognizes the impact his teachers had on him. “My favorite teacher was Mrs. Reuber. She ended up teaching my class for three different grades, second, fifth and sixth.”
The attentive academic environment, the comradery between students and the consistent nurturing from teachers all combine to form the undeniable sense of community that is specific to St. Peter’s and keeps our alumni coming back.
“The sense of community has kept me involved with St. Peter’s. I’ve attended various events over the years and enjoy seeing past teachers and other people that have been involved with the school.”
Becky Wych 2000
Even before she was enrolled as a student, Becky Wych was connected to St. Peter’s. She took piano lessons from former St. Peter’s principal Mrs. McMillion while she attended a different school. Wych’s mom, however, wanted to move her into Catholic school, and they already had a good connection.
“The school needed a nurse, which my mom was, so it worked out perfectly,” says Wych.
And so, Wych started her journey at St. Peter’s as a third grader, and she was immediately welcomed into the St. Peter’s family.
“On the first day at St. Peter’s, I met two of my current best friends – Mary Learner and Maria Culbertson. We hit it off on the swing set, and the rest is history!”
She remembers the accelerated reader competitions and the Christmas plays fondly. “We all wanted the prize for most points of books read. Of course, years later I don’t have a clue what that prize was! I remember how Christmas play week was always the most fun. We got out of class to hang out in the Church, rehearsing as a school.”
She also remembers how stressful life could be as an altar server, especially when the bishop was presiding. “Being an altar server for the bishop and having to hold his mitre while standing still and not dropping something was a challenge,” says Wych.
She graduated from St. Peter’s in 2000 and eventually went on to continue her education at USC. She earned her B.A. in Art History and Political Science and graduated in 2010. From there, she immediately went on the earn a master’s degree in public administration at USC.
She now serves as the Leadership Program Director at the United Way of the Midlands.
“It’s the best job – the majority of my time is spent working with the Young Leaders Society (YLS). YLS is our young professionals group of donors, who give their time and treasures to Untied Way. They keep me busy and on my toes!”
Wych says that she found her passion to help others during her time at St. Peter’s.
“St. Peter’s and my overall Catholic education shaped my future. What’s taught at St. Peter’s goes beyond traditional education. Do unto others is the active principle of every school day at St. Peter’s. That really shaped my life, and now I have the joy of working for an organization that works toward bettering our community.”
Wych says that the familiarity of St. Peter’s has kept her involved in our community as well. “This church always felt like home. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without St. Peter’s.”