Skip Navigation
Archive for the "Events" Category

Summer Conference at Chelsea

June 18, 2024
By Emile Doak
This summer, Chelsea Academy will gather leading voices at the nexus of Catholic education and statesmanship to explore how to form Catholic leaders capable of meeting the challenges of our current moment. 

For centuries, Catholic education has been part of the fabric of America. Since the founding of the parochial education system by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton—secondary patroness of the Diocese of Arlington—Catholic schools have met the challenges of the age by partnering with families to form the next generation in the faith. As a result, American Catholics have achieved prominent positions in secular society, and Catholic schools can count numerous community and national leaders among their alumni.

But now, in the third decade of the 21st century, new challenges are causing Catholics to rethink how to engage in secular society. Our culture is increasingly confused, presenting young people with visions of happiness and success that are fundamentally opposed to those of the Catholic faith. And in the public square, this hostile culture has led to a rethinking of once-settled questions around Catholic cultural and political engagement. As our country's cultural rot accelerates, parents seeking to form confident Catholic leaders are left navigating a new landscape in education and public life.

How should parents navigate this cultural moment? How should schools react to these new cultural challenges? How do we continue to educate for Catholic leaders capable of making positive contributions to their families, places of work, and communities?

As a school under the patronage of St. Thomas More—patron of statesman and of the Diocese of Arlington—Chelsea Academy is uniquely positioned to explore these questions. Join us this summer to hear from leading figures in Catholic education and statesmanship!

The day will open with Holy Mass in Chelsea's St. Thomas More Chapel, celebrated by Fr. Daniel Gee, pastor of St. John the Baptist in Front Royal. 

Then, the first plenary session will explore Catholic statesmanship in the 21st century. Discussants include:

  • The Hon. Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli has served in the highest levels of U.S. and Virginia politics. Cuccinelli started his political career in the state senate of Virginia, before being elected state-wide as Attorney General in 2010. Cuccinelli's tenure as Virginia AG was informed by his strong Catholic faith, most notably on issues of life and marriage. More recently, Cuccinelli served as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) and Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under President Trump. He is currently Senior Fellow for Homeland Security and Immigration for the Center for Renewing America
  • C.C. Pecknold. Dr. Pecknold has emerged as a leading voice in Catholic political thought. Dr. Pecknold's work centers on the thought of St. Augustine in the areas of fundamental theology, Christian anthropology, and political theology. He is a frequent contributor to debates in the public square, and is co-founder and editor of the popular Substack, The Postliberal Order. Dr. Pecknold is associate professor of systematic theology at the Catholic University of America. 
  • Matthew Mehan. Dr. Mehan's work centers on the thought of St. Thomas More and the education of leading citizens. He has has consulted for national leaders and heads of state, and has written for various outlets both scholarly and popular, including Moreana and The Wall Street Journal. As Associate Dean and Assistant Professor of Government at Hillsdale College's Graduate School of Government in Washington, DC, Dr. Mehan plays a leading role in shaping the next generation of statesmen through the College's academic programs & fellowships for policy professionals exerting key influence in Washington.
  • Tim Carney. Mr. Carney is a bestselling author, journalist, and speaker. His work seeks to explore and explain a broad swath of the American landscape. His 2019 bestseller, Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse, explored why so many Americans feel the American dream is dead—and the vital role churches must play in bringing it back. His latest book, Family Unfriendly: How Our Culture Made Raising Kids Much Harder Than It Needs to Be, takes on the record rates of anxiety, depression, medication, debts, loneliness, and comes to an old-fashioned conclusion: “Have more kids, have more fun, cancel the travel soccer games, let your kids wander off, and give them deeper sources of meaning than material success.” 

The keynote address will be delivered by Dr. George Harne, incoming president of Christendom College. This will mark Dr. Harne’s first public lecture as Christendom’s next president, following his official first day in office on July 1. A widely respected and accomplished scholar of music history and the liberal arts, Dr. Harne will deliver a talk titled “The Contemplative Statesman,” tying directly into the conference’s theme of educating for virtue in 21st-century America.

The second plenary session of the day will pivot towards Catholic education, and explore how to lead vibrant Catholic schools. Discussants will channel decades of experience in Catholic school administration and classical education, including:

  • John M. DeJak. Mr. DeJak, headmaster of Chelsea Academy since 2021, brings over 20 years of experience leading and teaching in vibrant Catholic schools to Chelsea. Under his leadership, Chelsea has successfully expanded to a full K-12 student body, completed accreditation renewal and curriculum realignment, and purchased a campus of its own for the first time. Before Chelsea, Mr. DeJak was the founding headmaster of two private high schools in the Twin Cities area, Chesterton Academy and Holy Spirit Academy, and was most recently President of Father Gabriel Richard High School in Michigan. He is also the co-editor of With God in America: The Spiritual Legacy of an Unlikely Jesuit (Loyola Press, 2016)
  • Jeremy Tate. Mr. Tate is a leading voice in the classical education movement. In 2015, he founded the Classic Learning Test (CLT) as an alternative to the SAT and ACT college admissions exams. CLT has since expanded to a suite of assessments for grades 3-12—all rooted in truth, goodness, and beauty. He is also the host of the popular “Anchored” podcast on education and culture. In additional to his work with CLT, Tate is a frequent speaker and contributor to popular publications. His writing has appeared in Fox News, First Things, the Wall Street Journal, The American Conservative, The Federalist, and elsewhere.
  • Pat Miggins. Mr. Miggins' teaching career has spanned nearly 20 years. He began his career teaching at The Heights School in Potomac, Maryland, teaching 6th Grade Homeroom, 8th and 10 Grade literature, 9th Grade Core, Ethics, and Irish Literature. In 2011, Miggins moved to Houston, Texas, to help build Western Academy, where he served as Assistant Headmaster and continued to teach a variety of humanities courses. Miggins is now back at The Heights School, and also serves on Chelsea Academy's Board of Directors. 
  • Jeffrey Presberg. Mr. Presberg has led a dramatic revitalization of St. John the Beloved Academy (SJBA) in McLean, Virginia since he came on as headmaster in 2018. Under his leadership, SJBA has recommitted to a liberal arts curriculum rooted in a Catholic humanist tradition, and a robust and vibrant Catholic identity. As a result, the school has attracted families from throughout the region, and enrollment has increased to capacity, with a deep waiting list. Prior to his tenure at SJBA, Mr. Presberg was the founding Headmaster at Western Academy in Houston and Lower School Head at The Heights School.  

Chelsea Academy is proud to welcome these distinguished speakers to our campus this summer. Join us in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley as we chart a path forward for Catholic education and statesmanship! 

For more information and to secure your seat, click here.

Questions about the event? Email us at

Posted in Events

Recent Posts

6/18/24 - By Emile Doak
4/8/24 - By Greta Barvick
2/13/24 - By Eileen Peppiatt, edited by Simone Lash
2/12/24 - By Simone Lash, edited by Eileen Peppiatt
12/22/23 - By Declan Thomas
11/21/23 - By The Journalism Team
11/9/23 - By Belle Schuttloffel, edited by Eileen Peppiatt
3/8/23 - By Mariana Valle, Journalist & Jude Lagarde, Editor
3/7/23 - By Declan Thomas, Journalist & Jude Lagarde, Editor
1/25/23 - By Patrick Philbin, Journalist & Jude Lagarde, Editor