Faith-based education celebrated at St. Francis
“Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service” is the theme of Catholic Schools Week celebrated Jan. 26 through Feb. 1, 2014 at St. Francis Catholic Church and School.
A ministry of St. Francis parish which has been in existence for more than 100 years, the school has an enrollment of more than 110 students in pre- school through grade eight.
“Catholic Schools Week promotes Catholic schools and celebrates Catholic education,” said Principal Sonja Doughty. In her first year at St. Francis, Doughty is the former principal of St. Mary’s Catholic School in Tomahawk. “When you can play together and pray together, that’s the whole package. I’m able to combine my love of education with the love of my faith.”
A Mass in honor of Catholic Schools Week will begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday at the church with special music provided by St. Francis students. An Open House with an opportunity to visit classrooms, meet with school staff and a book fair will follow the service from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. On Thursday students will travel to St. Mary’s Catholic School in Tomahawk to participate in a special Mass led by Bishop Peter Christensen.
“The week is dedicated to bringing awareness to the community about Catholic schools and to celebrate our Catholic identity,” said parent Wendy Arndt, who currently has two children enrolled in the school. “It’s more of a family than a school.”
Co-president of the Home and School Committee, Arndt feels that a faith based curriculum is an important aspect of the school.
“My husband and I feel it’s important for our children to grow up in the knowledge of their faith,” she said.
A week of special events planned at the school includes a Grandparents Day with a Mass led by Father Mike McLain and a luncheon with Bingo and other activities for students and their guests.
McLain, known as Father Mike, will serve his famous homemade pizza to the student s and staff during the week.
“He loves to make pizza and all types of flavored popcorn,” said parent Michelle Evans, a member of the Home and School Committee. “On his birthday he even made pancakes for the entire school and he absorbed the cost.”
Father Mike is a very approachable person and a positive role model for the students, Evans said.
“He’s a very welcoming presence for them,” she said. “He goes into the classrooms and teaches religion. He’s just great with the kids.”
As part of Catholic Schools Week, St. Francis will also have a Pajama Day, an all school Spelling Bee, a sledding party and movies.
A student Lock-In begins at 6 p.m. Friday and runs until 8 a.m. Saturday in the school cafeteria sponsored by the Home and School Committee. Activities include movies, a Wii party, pizza, games, prizes and snacks.
During the week students will also do service projects for the community such as singing at Pine Crest Nursing Home or making cards for residents of Bell Tower.
“I think it’s a special school with a lot to offer,” Evans said. “Celebrating the Catholic school is a benefit in my eyes and we would like to share it with the rest of Merrill.”