Why We Send Our Children to St. Patrick School

From Dave and Melody Brown

“At St. Patrick’s, we feel our son has a well rounded education academically, socially, and emotionally. St. Patrick’s offers support opportunities for all students to develop and use coping skills in a positive school culture. This is especially important to us during changes in daily routines in this fluid world we are all living in. We feel safe and comforted going to St. Patrick’s each day. When students feel happy and safe, it shows through their academics and gives them confidence to excel. St. Patrick’s also offers a hometown feeling and has always treated us like family. We love our St. Patrick’s Catholic School family!”

From Nick and Jenny Sandborn--St. Pat's response to the pandemic

“We have always been happy with our decision to send our children to St. Pat’s, but seeing how the administrators and teachers responded to the recent pandemic and the resulting change to online learning, definitely reinforced our belief that we made the right decision. The amount of time, effort and dedication they put forth to ensure that all our kids were able to continue their education and successfully complete the school year was simply amazing. We are extremely grateful for everything St. Pat’s has done for our children and our family.”

From Brian and Nikki Brown--Great faith formation and education

“St. Patrick School has been the biggest blessing we could ever give our children. Our number one purpose on this earth is leading each other to Christ. The teachers that our children have been so fortunate to have thus far are truly helping us to lead them to our greatest gift. The Christ centered focus of their education is a blessing beyond measure. We could not be more pleased with our experience with St. Patrick School. Thank you to Fr. Mike, the administrators, and the teachers for making this such a great faith formation and educational experience for our family!”

From Brett and Tara Klein--We came back to Portland so that we could send our kids to St. Pats

“We are both graduates of St. Patrick School. Our jobs took us to the Grand Rapids area for almost 10 years, but after we started a family, we knew we wanted our kids to have a catholic upbringing in the same close-knit community as we did. This fall we will have 2 kids enrolled in the school and 2 more will attend in the next few years. We are excited to be back as a part of the parish and school family.”

From Dan and Jessica Rockey--Jesus is the reason

“Jesus is the reason we decided to send our children to St. Patrick School. Perhaps this sounds trite, but it is true. Our Catholic faith is the foundation of our lives. We wish to express and incorporate it daily. Unfortunately, legislation at every level suppresses sharing the truth of Christ within public institutions. St. Patrick school ensures our kids are exposed to sacred scripture, supported by staff that connects the Gospel across the curriculum and promotes the development of a personal relationship with Christ. While the home is the primary educator of the faith, participation in the parish, the Church, and – when possible – the school are vital components. St. Pat’s is a blessing to our families and our community. It’s administrative functionality is so refreshing! Mr. Hodge and Mrs. Smith address issues from a perspective of God’s love honoring human dignity. They also make themselves easily accessible, minimizing bureaucratic ‘red tape.’ Father Mike provides sensible, strong leadership across the board. And his courageous ministry is both reassuring and inspiring. We are not naive in thinking the school is the answer to everything but we do know since enrolling our children we’ve experienced greater peace. At St. Patrick School we are surrounded by well-intentioned individuals supporting each other to build the Kingdom of Christ.”

From Jeremy and Angie Newman--Extra curriculars and dress code

“We are so impressed by all of the extracurricular options available at St. Patrick school! Each sport and club contributes to our children’s personal development. Whether it be the sportsmanship gained from an exciting game of basketball, the teamwork required to put together a great play in drama club, or the patience learned from an intense chess club match. There’s always something fun our kids want to do with their classmates after school and we are happy to know they will learn valuable skills while also growing in character.

We are also huge fans of the uniform dress code at St. Patrick School. We love that we don’t have to keep up with the latest trends or most popular styles from the mall. It’s school shopping made easy. (And the PTO Used Uniform Sale can’t be beat. Seriously, a few bucks for an entire outfit!)”

But although the shopping perks are great, the very BEST thing about the school uniform is that it reduces stress and saves time during those crazy morning rushes. Even our younger kids are able to dress themselves for school! The dress code gives us peace of mind that all our kids are neat, modest, comfortable and ready to learn at St. Pat’s.

From Todd and Jennifer Davlin--Transferred children from public school

“It was 11 years ago this summer when we decided to send our children to St. Patrick’s School.  At the time, we were looking for a good Christian education where our children would be able to pray, think, and speak about God. St. Patrick’s School motto We Pray! We Learn! We Achieve! resonated with us and we took the leap.

It was a wonderful decision! Our children have thrived, been loved, and have a strong foundation in Catholic faith and theology. They’ve been accepted into and participated in anything they’ve had an interest in from sports to drama to robotics. They’ve been blessed to really get to know and be cared for by teachers, administrators, priests, deacons, support staff, coaches, and great families.

As our oldest heads off to college later this summer we can’t help but share our gratitude and enthusiasm for St. Patrick School. Thank you so much St. Pats!”

From Brandon and Michelle Trierweiler--Small classrooms and family atmosphere

“We chose St. Patrick’s for our family as we felt it was best for us and our children. We love the faith-based education and the openness to talk about religion. We love the small classrooms and family atmosphere. We have witnessed firsthand how this school can have a great effect on children and believe they start with a solid foundation.”

From Bob and Jessica White--Benefits of having all children in one building

From Bob:  “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:   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--Not a sacrifice but an investment in our children's future

“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--Moved to Portland so children could attend St. Pat's

“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--St. Pat's is a large family atmosphere

“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--An amazing education!

“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.”