Why We Send Our Children to St. Patrick School

From Stacy FoxElster: 

“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.”

From Robert White:

“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. “

From Jessica White:

We came to visit St. Patrick School in May 2014 after feeling unsatisfied with the direction our previous diocese was moving in regards to Catholic schools. Additionally, we had only two more years to figure out where we were going to send our oldest child to high school since our local Catholic school was only K-8 and we saw changes that didn’t make the public high school an option. While we understand that a strong Catholic foundation from home and K-8 education should be enough to give our kids the tools they need to stay on high moral ground, we all know that those 4 years of high school are four of the most defining and personally challenging years (usually just behind the four college years) that each of us face.

We could send her to the closest Catholic high school in our diocese 30 miles away but we figured if we were going to go through the trouble and cost, we might as well consider how to get her in a Catholic high school whose highest educational goals mirrored what we wanted for our children… Heaven.

We chose to visit St. Patrick for two reasons: 1) because it was the closest school to our home that was in the Grand Rapids diocese and 2) because when I heard it was a K-12 Catholic school all in one building, I just had to see what that looked and felt like. Many of you are already familiar with how wonderful the Catholic schools in the Grand Rapids diocese are but this was our first glimpse. The scholarships and strong belief in subsidiarity were a huge attraction for us to find a way to get there.

We considered moving but leaving a $60,000+ salary seemed foolish with 7 children; plus, we were 10 years into a mortgage on our dream home, and owned a business in the area . How could we leave all that financially speaking? We prayed. By December of that year, I felt a change was coming. On New Year’s Eve, I didn’t make a resolution. Instead, I asked God to solve this problem . Whatever the answer is, I would accept it, I just asked Him to make it clear so I wasn’t guessing.

On the Friday before Holy Week, Bob told me he had been laid off as part of a district wide effort. I was so happy that God made the decision and made it so clear! It may be the only time in my life that I got bad news but was so incredibly happy because I could see God’s hand in the design. I didn’t know how we’d feed our children, where we’d live or where the tuition
money would come from but I knew we were supposed to move to Portland so we could send our children to St. Patrick.

How we are feeding our children, what Bob would do for income, and what we would do about our businesses could be three or four more speeches describing how God worked everything out, but I will leave those for another time. You’ll remember our original problem was where to send our oldest to high school. In the chaos during that time, we learned we were expecting our 8th baby. Our kids ranged from 8th grade to Kindergarten that year. Our oldest was a little resentful and only seemed to focus on the changes that she didn’t like . But it didn’t take long to open her mind to opportunities that she didn’t have before: like sports – she got to play volleyball and run track. She found a niche in her old love: singing at Mass and joined the youth ensemble. She started to create relationships with her classmates and has since found a home in leadership roles here that she would never been exposed to in most other schools. She has been able to participate in Holy Day Masses; that would never have happened if she went to a public high school. She has been able to attend stations every Friday during Lent…couldn’t have happened if she attended a public school. She has been able to say the rosary, the Divine Chaplet and participate in eucharistic adoration. All as part of her school day, all to learn what she needs most to attain true happiness in this life and heaven in the next.

I’m sure you know Catholic schools have decades of statistics to show the academic excellence taught and achieved and St. Patrick is no different. Maybe it’s the teachers, the principal, or even the priest who can be credited …or maybe it’s because these schools are trying to achieve the one thing for your child that no public institution can lay claim to: their soul.

How are we paying for it? Like I said, that’s a whole other story. In short, we have eight children, Bob found a new job but his salary is half of what it was, we closed our business in 6 out of 7 locations and opened just one new one closer to our new home, we sold our dream home for far less than we paid and are now living in a small home in Portland… and we couldn’t be happier! It doesn’t make sense but faith is like that most times. We don’t have to worry about how the daily subjects are aligned with our faith. We don’t have to worry about how to get our children to Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation. We also don’t worry how we will pay tuition or how our children will get to a school that is far away. If you give his children back to his care and the care of his church, he will see to the little things. We pray you will consider allowing St. Pat’s to be the instrument that God uses to provide an education for your child with the robustly Catholic moral teaching and presentation of truth for which your child’s heart yearns.

From Mandy Teachworth:

“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.”

From Jeannie Wernette: 

“The idea of moving our students to St. Pat’s was laid on our hearts the day Mr. Hodge came to Lake Odessa 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.“

From Ann Kissane:

“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.”

From Stacy Russman: 

“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.”

Student Testimonials

From Jeff Davlin, Junior at Portland St. Patrick

Praise be Jesus, and thanks be to God for each of you! Thanks be to God also for my school, St. Patrick High School in Portland. I’ve been going there for years now, and there are so many wonderful things I can say about it: small classes, friendly and knowledgeable teachers, phenomenal test scores, fun and competitive sports teams, supportive families, and a familial atmosphere, just to name a few. But the real reason I go to St. Pat’s, and why it can be a home for so many others, is the Catholic identity of the school.

I began at St. Pat’s, following a decision made by my parents after they had participated in a bible study.  During that class, it became clear to them how important a Christian education was. I have some pretty great parents, and I think this is one of the best decisions that they’ve ever made!

Although I reluctantly agreed to leave my old school and friends, I was given it all back a hundredfold by the immense blessings I received, in addition to school and friends at St. Patrick’s. These included weekly school Mass, daily religion class, and my own first  Communion. I began to really notice the altar servers at Mass and I became one. My spiritual life shot off like a rocket after that! The experience of assisting in the highest form of prayer and being so close to the eternal sacrifice of Christ is amazing and never ceases to strike me as such. All of this growth was supported and guided by helpful and formative religion classes, morning prayer at school with Scripture, and the wonderful examples of faithful Catholicism that I saw and continue to see today in the St. Patrick High School staff, who helped me and
my class receive our Confirmation.

St. Pat’s has impacted me deeply, but this is just my own unfinished story. I’m sure there are many other stories of how this school has touched other people’s lives. My question is what will your story be?

Come visit us, try us out, and see what it’s like to go to class in an academically challenging, faith-filled Catholic high school. I believe you’ll like what you see because the presence of Jesus and his grace are as plain as can be when you walk the halls. Please pray for our school, and rest assured that I will be praying for you.

Graduation 2019 Speech by Salutatorian Alexis Hass

Video of Lexie Hass speech

Hello.  First of all, I would like to thank everyone for being here today.  Each and every one of you has helped shaped at least one of us graduates into the people we are today, and I am forever grateful for that.

As I began to write my speech over the past couple of days, I couldn’t quite find the words to describe how I was feeling.  It wasn’t until last night around 11 pm that I realized that there is only one thing that shows how much the people in the Class of 2019 mean to me.  Although this is quite embarrassing to read in front of this many people and it is extremely dramatic, I think it truly shows the power of the people in this class.

Many of you probably know that I did not attend St. Pats until my sophomore year.  A week after I got out of school after my freshman year, I went to DYMO camp.  I did not know anybody going into it, which provided me with the opportunity to meet and become close with lots of people there.  The week after I came home I wrote this letter to my parents.  Luckily my mom held onto it, otherwise I wouldn’t have a speech!

Dear Mom and Dad,

I can tell by your reactions when I talk about Portland that you think I am kidding, but I’m really not.  I know it hasn’t been that long, but ever since about half way through Dymo  I’ve been praying about where I want to finish out high school.  Because I know it’s not Grandville.

You think it’s a joke or a phase but I am more serious about this than I have been about anything.  I am willing to do whatever it takes to go there.  I will go be homeless there if I have to. 

Dymo has not only provided me with great friends, but it provided me with an environment of Catholics and all of a sudden it clicked!  There is always a reason for things that happen, and through lots of prayer and thought I have come to the conclusion that God’s reason for me going to Dymo was to show me my happy place.  Not only that, but He showed me the people in that happy place.  They can be found at St. Pat’s in Portland, Michigan and I want to be found there, too. 

I have non-stop prayed for you guys to understand and I don’t see it working.  I know it’s a big change that might involve me leaving home for a year until you guys can move out there or I can make the long commute to and from every day.  I feel God calling me there and I can only hope and pray that you will understand and help me to follow God’s plan for me.  St. Pat’s feels like home to me.

I know it may seem selfish when I could try to help people in Grandville, but remember that chair skit?  It is so much easier to get pulled down than to pull someone up.  Every single time I have tried to pull someone up, I have been the one coming down and getting hurt.  I literally have zero friends I trust here and I can’t imagine that’s the life you want for your daughter.  Sometimes I need to think of my own good and get myself on track before I can help others.  I tell other people to follow God’s plan no matter what it is or what it takes, but how can I say that when I know His plan but don’t follow it. 

I understand that we can’t move out there, but God loves me enough to have sent me several  friends willing to host me.  I know it will take a lot of thought, but my mind is made up.  I will go there no matter what it takes.  You can make me pay for it and give me a loan to pay off.  You can even charge interest or whatever.  St. Pat’s is my home.

Your daughter, Lexie

If this doesn’t show the impact that the students here at St. Pats have on the lives of others, I don’t know what does.  The people in this class have been the most amazing friends and classmates for the past three years.

A ginormous thank you goes out to my parents and family for making the huge sacrifice of moving out here.  Thank you to the rest of you parents for raising some of the most incredible people I have ever met.  Thank you Class of 2019 for not only being my best friends, but becoming my family.  I will forever be thankful for the couple of years that I got to spend her with each and every one of you\

 

Thank you.

Graduation 2019 Speech by Valedictorian Brandon Scheurer

The Class of 2019. Graduation day, the day that we thought would never arrive has snuck up on all of us. People always told me that senior year goes by faster than you can imagine, but only now do I understand how fast it truly does go by. It felt like just yesterday that all of us were walking in for our first day of our senior year, ready to begin the final chapter of our story. As graduates of St. Patrick, we will continue to follow the motto that St. Patrick has instilled in us: we pray, we learn, we achieve.

We pray. All of us in our time at St. Patrick have grown in our faith in one way or another. From our first time praying as a class before snack time in Kindergarten, our first time receiving the Eucharist, being confirmed together, and last but not least Mr. Osbourne’s Narnia books, all of us have been given a strong foundation in our Catholic faith. St. Patrick has helped to lay the groundwork in all of our hearts to continue on our faith journey as we all will strive to grow after we receive our diplomas and leave here as alumni for the first time. However, St. Patrick will always be home to every single one of us. Just as in the story of the Prodigal Son that was read to us in the classroom and at Mass countless times, we all understand that we can always come home to this community and be welcomed with open arms.

We learn. The Class of 2019 learned a lot during our time here at St Pats. We all learned and found success in the classroom. We learned how to find derivatives of a function with Mr. Austen. Mr. Smith taught us to follow all of the rules…every, single, one. Mr. Rockey taught us how to look at things from a different perspective and ponder the deeper meaning. Mrs. Gorzen taught us to look at the bigger picture, even if the picture was not shaded enough. Mrs. Sandborn taught us to never misbehave when she has a substitute teacher. Mrs. Bennett shared her love for reading and writing with us at an early age as our librarian and returned to see us through our senior year. Mr. Holman taught us that the movie is always better than the book. Mr. Hodge taught us the importance of good leadership and was a good role model for all of us to follow. Father Mike and Father Larry provided spiritual leadership and helped us to grow deeper in our faith. Beyond the classroom, we learned to celebrate our accomplishments, work through our differences and come together as the class of 2019.

We achieve. Our class has found achievement in many different places while at St. Pats. As evident at the CMAC Scholar banquet, we learned to balance our classroom demands with our athletic achievements. Many of us are graduating with honors or are receiving scholarships to help further our education. Our class found success in athletics with many of our athletes excelling, with three of us continuing our careers at the collegiate level. Others found success and fulfillment in other ways like theater, singing at mass, Heartlands, and community service. Most of all, we achieved in becoming the class of 2019 and discovering who we are as individuals. We all leave St. Pats as better people and have been given the tools to continue to grow as individuals with the strong foundation we built together.

Finally, I want to thank all of the people who have had an impact on my life during my time at St. Pats. Thank you to my parents for always pushing me to be the best I can be and providing unconditional love and support. Thank you to my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my sisters and Ally for always being such a strong support system. Thank you to the friends that graduated before me, the friends that are graduating with me and the friends that will carry on the tradition at St. Patrick after we leave. Thank you to all of the coaches during my time at St. Pats for the countless hours they spent with me. Thank you to Mr. Hodge for being our principal for the last 11 years. Thank you to Father Mike for challenging us in our faith and always pushing us to be better in all aspects of our lives. Finally, thank you to the class of 2019. Every single one of you has helped shaped me into the person I am and I love every single one of you for that. Although this may be the final time that we are altogether under the same roof, I would not have wanted to spend the last thirteen years with anybody else. It feels like I am leaving my brothers and sisters rather than my classmates. As we go our separate ways next fall, I know that all of you will achieve great things. We all have left a lasting impression here at St. Pats, but now it is time for us to go out and leave our own mark on the world. Thank you.