CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK: Excellence in education and service showcased at St. Mary’s during Catholic Schools Week


Students at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Tomahawk out on the playground. Submitted photo.

A small school with a big heart, St. Mary’s Catholic School in Tomahawk commemorates National Catholic Schools Week Jan. 30 – Feb. 5 with service, faith, and a sense of community.
“Catholic Schools Week is an opportunity for us to showcase our little school,” said Principal Rita Lee. “We may be small by design, but we are big on community. We don’t always stop to let people see what is special about our school.”
The national theme for the week, “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.” will be celebrated at St. Mary’s with special activities for the school and community.
“We have a real sense of community here at our school,” Lee said. “It’s always there, but it’s more tangible during Catholic Schools Week.”
The week kicks off Sunday, Jan. 30, with a special 8:00 a.m. mass involving students as greeters, ushers, cantors, and choir members. A church social follows, with cinnamon rolls baked by the school staff available for purchase in the Corpus Christi Center.
As a community outreach, students are invited to attend mid-week mass Tuesday, Feb. 1, at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Harrison, with lunch to follow at the church.
A highlight of Catholic Schools Week, the traditional mass conducted by Bishop James Powers of the Diocese of Superior will be live streamed Thursday, Feb. 3, from Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Medford. Students from Tomahawk, Merrill, Medford, and Rhinelander, who generally host the event on a rotating basis, will view the virtual service together.
“The Bishop’s mass is going to be virtual again this year due to COVID concerns,” Lee said. “We were supposed to have hosted the event this year, but Medford has much better capabilities with the technology.”
Another tradition during Catholic Schools Week, the school has chosen to support a local agency as a community service project. Proceeds from an all-school Penny War will be donated to the Ties That Bind, a Tomahawk charity which assists cancer patients and their families with needed resources, information, and supplies.

Students at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Tomahawk. Submitted photo.

“We do a service project for Catholic Schools Week every year and also during the season of Lent,” Lee said. “Regardless of what kind of service project we do, the goal is to teach our students that they are very blessed by everything they have and to raise social awareness that there are people out there who need a hand. Jesus always reached out to those in need, and that’s an important part of our school. We are teaching them to be productive members of our community.”
Throughout the school year, students have made cards for veterans, went caroling, and distributed Christmas cards in downtown Tomahawk, among other service projects.
“In my classroom, I talk a lot about community service and kindness and love toward others,” said kindergarten teacher Juanita Skubal. “We have been working on showing kindness and respect and spreading happiness to those around us.”
Other activities during Catholic Schools Week will include special dress-up days, an all-school Spelling Bee, an outdoor activity day, a mini retreat revolving around the theme of Saints of the church, and activities with grandparents.
“My students are excited about the Spelling Bee, because they know that next year they will be participating in it, and they enjoy the special dress-up days,” Skubal said. “There’s an excitement during Catholic Schools Week among the students and staff. It’s a good time for all of us.”
Parent Christi Lobermeier has a son attending St. Mary’s and a daughter who will be enrolled next fall.
“Catholic Schools Week is a fun way for the kids to take pride in their school,” Lobermeier said. “I think it’s important to take a moment to appreciate that we have a parochial school in Tomahawk where they can gather together and worship and pray.”
Lobermeier, a member of the Home and School Committee, has shared her talents with the school as a volunteer in the computer lab, assisted with activities in the classroom, and helped with the Scrip Program, a fundraiser for the church and school.
“I like being a part of what is going on in the school; it’s a sense of family,” she said. “We chose St. Mary’s for its small class sizes and the family feel and the fact that the kids get to pray in school and worship during the week.”
St. Mary’s will be participating in the annual Many Gifts, One Nation: A Day of Giving to Catholic Schools held during Catholic Schools Week. The school will be accepting online donations from noon Tuesday, Feb. 1, until noon on Wednesday, Feb. 2, at: The event is sponsored by the National Catholic Education Association.

Students at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Tomahawk carving pumpkins. Submitted photo.

St. Mary’s was recently accepted into the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program, which allows families who have financial need and meet certain criteria to attend the school free of charge. It also enables a greater number of students to receive tuition assistance.
During the current academic year, St. Mary’s was awarded the Wisconsin Religious and Independent Schools Accreditation after a five-year evaluation process.
Upcoming events for the school, open to the public, include a Father/Daughter Dance at the Inshalla Country Club, Feb. 18; a Mother/Son Dance at St. Mary’s Corpus Christi Center, Feb. 25; and the annual Spring Gala tentatively scheduled for April 22 at the Inshalla Country Club. The Spring Gala, the schools largest fundraising event, features a silent auction, dessert auction, Time and Treasure Raffle, and other activities.
Enrollment for the 2022-2023 school year is currently available for all St. Mary’s students and opens to members of its three supporting parishes beginning Jan. 31. Open registration for the community begins Feb. 14. For more information about the school, phone 715.453.3542.

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