Why We Send Our Children to St. Patrick School

In the October 2015 issue of The Shamrock, our alumni/parish newsletter, we featured our “large” families–families with four or more students enrolled at the school.  These testimonials are their own words.

Stacy and Sean FoxElster have four children enrolled at St. Pat’s: Cordelia-9th, Devon-7th, Arianna-4th, and Isaac-2nd.

Stacy told us, “I graduated from St. Pat’s, so I felt strong ties to the school and was familiar with many of the teachers and the administrator.   Still, our children started out at the public school and it was not an easy decision to make for our family, especially since our oldest was very involved in drama/theatre activities that are not offered at St. Patrick’s.

“However, in the end, we felt the pros outweighed the cons, and still do today.  Some of the things that we especially love about the school are the smaller class sizes  which allow for more one-on-one teacher/student interaction and the small, tight-knit community that makes up the school, with a high level of parent/student involvement.   We also love the school colors!  Sean and I met at MSU, so we are particularly fond of green and white!

“It has been a sacrifice for the whole family to enroll at St. Patrick’s and it takes a commitment from the whole family to make it work.  Sometimes, it means the kids/adults do not have the latest electronic gadgets or that we do not go on extravagant vacations, but both the parents and kids usually know the reasons why we are making the sacrifices and believe it is an investment in our/their future.”

Robert and Jessica White are new to the school this year.  They have six children enrolled:  Veronica-8th, Sophia-7th, Martin-5th, Simon-3rd, Benjamin-1st, Julia-Kindergarten.
Robert says, “We like the Catholic Identity that is very apparent in the educational focus of the Grand Rapids diocese. In doing our research, the GR diocese superintendent told us about Portland St. Pat’s. We love the idea of having all our children in one building. It extends their family experience in our household to the school day and gives us peace of mind knowing they are together and can be there for each other when we parents are not there. “
Ben and Mandy Teachworth have four children enrolled:  Samantha-8th, Braxton-6th, Natalee-5th, and Augustus-2nd.

Mandy says, “I don’t feel we sacrifice to send our kids to a faith-based school.  Yes we pay for an education and we may do without certain things, but most importantly we are investing in our childrens’ foundation, a solid foundation of religion and academics that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.  This investment is discussed in Mathew 7:24-27.

“We are so blessed that we have this opportunity to attend  St. Patrick School.   Smaller class sizes make it ideal for students to interact and participate.   I am so very proud of the teachers of St. Patrick School. Each and every one of them has nurturing qualities that encourage my children to become their very best.  We also are happy that St. Patrick offers something for everyone.  In addition to  the legendary basketball and football teams, we also have many extra -curriccular activities that are not sports related.

“When it comes to the things we might have to give up,  like a shinier piece of farm equipment or a couple more cows, I only think of the legacy we are giving to our children in hopes that they will gift it to the next generation.  I am very thankful to be surrounded by such an amazing network of people these past nine years and look forward to the next eleven.”

Steve and Jeannie Wernette recently moved here from Lake Odessa.  They have 11 children, five of whom are currently enrolled:  Philip and Thomas-12th, Stephen-9th, Theodore-7th, and Gabriel-3rd.

Jeannie says, “The idea of moving our students to St. Pat’s was laid on our hearts the day Mr. Hodge came to St. Edwards to promote enrollment. We have always believed a Catholic education was an important part of our duty as Catholic parents. To have the faith permeate home and school is to us a no-brainer.  St. Pat’s had an excellent reputation in the area, it was the closest Catholic school in proximity to our home at the time we enrolled, and our students were requesting to enroll there.

“So, when the opportunity presented itself we trusted God would take care of the details. And, as always, He did not disappoint! We are thankful for the opportunity for our children to excel academically and consider ourselves blessed to call Portland St. Pat’s Parish and School home.

“We love that our children are surrounded by the Catholic faith, traditions, and culture during their education, sports, and social activities.  We love that they are  subject to the disciplines of a rigorous college-focused educational curriculum.  We love that they are surrounded by educators and families who share our goals for the future of our children.“

Mike and Ann Kissane have six children, four of whom are currently enrolled at St. Pat’s School:  Alexander, Leah and Riley-8th, and Isabelle-4th.
Ann says, “The biggest reason we chose to send our kids to SPS is for the faith-filled, loving community. We wanted our kids to be part of the large family atmosphere prevalent throughout SPS.   One benefit we find valuable still is the opportunity for all kids to participate in athletics. Another benefit is the great families we have befriended over the years our kids have been here.”
Pat and Stacy Russman have four children who attend St. Pat’s:  Summer-9th, Payton-5th, Isabella-3rd, and Joesie-Preschool. 
Stacy says, “We are truly blessed to send our four children to St. Patrick School.  The school is our extended family.  The families here are so generous and kind. They always lend a hand.  We love that our children are learning about Jesus all day.  They participate in weekly Mass and holy days, practice the Rosary and learn about Advent, Lent, and service projects to help those in need.   We have several opportunities to be involved in our childrens’ education.  The staff is very approachable and compassionate, and communicate very well.  We know our children are getting an amazing education that will help them grow to be disciples of Jesus.”

Other large families:  Many other families contribute to the St. Patrick School family including:  Pat Pohl and Lynn Wood, who have four children attending St. Pat’s; and the Heckman/Kwiecinski familywho have eight children enrolled.

Principal Randy Hodge said, “I came from a large family, so did my wife.  We are blessed to have these families at St. Patrick School.  Currently, families pay a discounted rate for each additional child after the first, and any children past the fourth can attend St. Pat’s free of charge.  We do this to make it possible now, as it was in the past, to provide Catholic education to all.”