SJS Alumni Spotlight – Wheatley Family

We love hearing stories about SJS alumni from the same family. We’ve had husband and wife graduates, siblings that make attending SJS a family tradition and families with multiple generations of alumni. The Wheatly family is a second-generation alumnus.

Helen Wheatley

Helen has lived in Elizabethtown her entire life. She and her husband Chris have been married for 27 years and were married at St. James Catholic Church in 1994. Chris attended Catholic schools in Louisville (St. Helen’s and Holy Cross). Helen graduated from St. James Catholic School in 1980 (when it only had grades 1-6). They have three kids who all graduated from SJS. 

Helen recently retired from Elizabethtown Independent Schools, where she taught high school English for 29 years. She firmly believes that her strong faith stems from her grade school education – where she attended Mass with her classmates twice a week. Learning to speak in front of the congregation at a young age gave her confidence. Currently, she feels lectoring for her parish is using the talent God gave her.

When she thinks back on her years at SJS, she remembers the pride felt when chosen to read the story of the Nativity on Christmas Eve. Helen’s PawPaw had purchased a new Christmas outfit for her to wear during this special occasion, and she stood proudly reading the scripture to the congregation.  

Another memory that stands out to her surrounds the principal, Mr. Brown. He was also the religion teacher for fifth and sixth graders. Helen remembers Mr. Brown explaining there is NEVER a reason to rest when kneeling. He told students to look around at the older congregation members and notice the reverence the elders showed by kneeling upright. He said, “Never be lazy in prayer.” Even today, as Helen kneels, she always thinks about Mr. Brown’s lesson and has tried to teach her children the same.

Christopher Wheatley, Jr.

Christopher lived in Elizabethtown until he graduated from Elizabethtown High School in 2016. He attended SJS from pre-school to the graduating class of 2012. 

Christopher begins graduate school in the fall at Penn State. He plans to earn his Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering and work in either the consumer goods or semiconductor industry. 

SJS ensured he was well prepared for high school, allowing him to succeed all four years at EHS. SJS was also instrumental in preparing him to earn scholarships and his undergraduate degree at the University of Kentucky. In addition to academics, the faith-born connections from SJS continued in college and helped reignite the passion he had for his faith. According to Christopher, it has never been stronger. 

In seventh grade, as the school was letting out, Christopher was heading out the door when his teacher Ms. Hernandez wished him a good rest of the day. Without thinking, he replied, “Thanks, Mom!” 

Christopher said he turned bright red when he realized what he said, but that moment represents how comfortable and close-knit the environment was at St. James. 

Mary Kate Wheatley

Mary Kate graduated from Elizabethtown High School in 2020. She attended SJS from 2005, starting preschool to graduation in 2016.  

Currently, she attends Marian University in Indianapolis. Her major is Biology Pre-med. She is involved in the San Damiano Program, a faith- and service-based community; College Mentors for Kids, an organization that provides mentors to students at Holy Angels Catholic School; Knights for Life, an organization dedicated to defending life; and is in the process of starting Leaders for Life, an organization that partners with Versiti Blood Center of Indiana to organize blood drives on campus.

Mary Kate’s education at SJS has helped her be successful by encouraging strong organizational habits, using assignment books and weekly plans to help structure her time.  

When she thinks back on her time at SJS, she feels incredibly blessed to have been surrounded by teachers who challenged her in the classroom and supported her faith journey. Mary Kate also thinks of the many opportunities that a smaller school offers; one-on-one time with teachers, the flexibility to be involved in all of her various interests and close-knit friendships.

A fond memory of her time at SJS was her eighth-grade class trip to New York City. 

Lucas Wheatley

Lucas attended SJS from preschool through graduation in 2019. He is currently a junior at Elizabethtown High School, where he participates in the Golf and Bass Fishing teams. He also served as President of FBLA this past year and is active in 4-H. 

Lucas says his SJS education has helped him succeed by providing the skills and confidence needed for leadership. He has held a leadership position since joining 4-H in sixth grade. During his eighth-grade year, he ran for Governor of KYA, giving a speech in front of hundreds of people. He said SJS prepared him for these types of situations.

Lucas’ favorite teacher was his fifth-grade science teacher, Mr. Todd. He provided labs where the students were able to experiment and test their hypotheses. Lucas also enjoyed completing a bug project in his class. He said Mr. Todd made learning fun and memorable.