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January is School Board Recognition Month

January 20, 2022

January has been designated as School Board Recognition Month.  As citizen leaders of St. Patrick School, our board members face complex and demanding challenges. In the Diocese of Grand Rapids, school boards are known as School Boards of Limited Jurisdiction. With this type of school board, board members work closely with the administration and assist […]

January has been designated as School Board Recognition Month.  As citizen leaders of St. Patrick School, our board members face complex and demanding challenges. In the Diocese of Grand Rapids, school boards are known as School Boards of Limited Jurisdiction.

With this type of school board, board members work closely with the administration and assist in the governance of the school.  According to diocesan policy, “The Board of Directors shall have as its primary concern the ministry of Catholic education via strategic planning, formulation of policies relating to academic, student, and faith community affairs, and evaluation of policies and operations.”   The School Board has been proactive in these responsibilities over the years.

Our school board members complete most of their work in the following subcommittees:

  • Executive Committee
  • Mission Effectiveness Committee
  • Admissions/Development Committee
  • Finance Committee
  • Marketing and Communication Committee
  • Strategic Planning/Policy Committee

 

Each school board subcommittee also has active members who assist with any work that needs to be completed by that subcommittee. Subcommittees typically meet once a month and complete many tasks for the school board behind the scenes.

 

The current members of the Board are Melissa Schrauben, who serves as the Chair of the Board and the Executive Committee. Jeff Fedewa serves as the Vice Chair of the Board and oversees the Finance Committee along with Denise Dunning. Nancy Wohlschied serves as the Recording Secretary.  Brandi Bengel and Richelle Vallier, serve as the Chairs of the Mission Effectiveness Committee. Brenda Smith and Connie Vallier, serve as the Chairs for the Strategic Planning/Policy Committee. Ashley Kleiwer serves as the Chair of the Marketing/Public Relations Committee and Elizabeth Hager serves as the Chair of the Admissions/Development Committee.

The St. Patrick School Board meets on an approximate six-week rotation in the Parish Hall and encourages attendance.  Meetings begin with Mass at 6:00 p.m. and reconvene after Mass at 6:45 p.m.  The School Board meeting dates for the remainder of the school year are:

  • February 8, 2022
  • April 12, 2022
  • May 10, 2022

 

We would like to thank our School Board members and all subcommittee members for sharing their time, talent, and dedication to make our school a much better place. Their knowledge, enthusiasm, and leadership are a vital part of our school’s success.  If anyone has questions, concerns, suggestions, or is interested in becoming a member of our School Board or serving on a subcommittee for the remainder of this school year or for next school year, please contact Chairperson Melissa Schrauben at schoolboard@portlandstpats.org.

 

Additional information about the School Board, including meeting minutes, can be found under the Administration icon on our school website portlandstpats.com.

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Class of 1970 Enjoys 50 Year Reunion

May 28, 2021

In a typical year, each September since 2003, the Father Flohe Foundation has hosted a wonderful celebration for the St. Pat’s graduating classes who are celebrating their 50th class reunion. The Class of 1953 was the first class to graduate from St. Patrick High School, and the first to be honored at this party. This […]

In a typical year, each September since 2003, the Father Flohe Foundation has hosted a wonderful celebration for the St. Pat’s graduating classes who are celebrating their 50th class reunion. The Class of 1953 was the first class to graduate from St. Patrick High School, and the first to be honored at this party.

This year however, Covid created a need to change our plans for the Class of 1970 which saw the date for their 50-year reunion change on two occasions. At last, on Saturday, May 15, the third time was the charm. The Class of 1970 was able to gather for their 50-year reunion. On the class composite that sits outside the office, there are pictures showing 48 members of this class when they graduated from high school.

Classmates met at the school at 2:30 where I had the opportunity to show them around the school and talk about what has changed and what has stayed the same since they graduated. These tours are the highlight of these annual reunions for me; I get to hear stories from guests about their school years and they often enlighten me about the history of the school. Many of the grads have not been in the school since they graduated and were surprised by how much things had changed.

Following the tour of the school, the classmates attended the 4:30 Mass together. Following Mass, our alumni trekked out to the Wagon Wheel where they were treated to a delicious prime rib and chicken dinner. The classmates had the opportunity to sit and socialize, and some stayed long afterward to catch up and discuss their favorite memories of the good old days.

I always enjoy this annual event. It is a reminder that each person who enters our school has a story to tell, their own personal history. Hearing these stories and learning about these former students is a great reminder of what makes St. Patrick School such a special place.

Congratulations Class of 1970 on your special night and thank you for an enjoyable evening. We are glad we were able to host your reunion despite the roadblocks that were put in place. May God continue to bless you.

 

 

The Father Flohe Foundation was founded in 1988.  Its primary function is to keep Catholic education available to the people of St. Patrick Parish and surrounding communities by funding some of the school expenses. The organization funds The Shamrock alumni newsletter, awards the annual Education Bell Award, and manages the endowment fund which helps to financially assist the school. 

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Saying Goodbye to the Class of 2021

May 20, 2021

While all graduating classes at St. Patrick School are special to me, this one is a bit more special. When I started my tenure as administrator, this class started as my first kindergarten class. It has been an honor to watch them go through kindergarten all the way to graduation as their principal. Now, it […]

While all graduating classes at St. Patrick School are special to me, this one is a bit more special. When I started my tenure as administrator, this class started as my first kindergarten class. It has been an honor to watch them go through kindergarten all the way to graduation as their principal. Now, it is time to say goodbye as they will continue to build on the rock-solid foundation they have built here as they move on to the next phase of their lives.

As the beginning of the 2020-21 school year approached, it was our goal to have an as normal as possible school year for all our students. We especially wanted a “normal” school year for the Class of 2021. They already had lost the spring of their junior year of high school and we wanted to make sure they had an enjoyable final year of their school careers.

On the first day of school, I challenged them with the goal of helping me lead our school into normalcy. They were specifically asked to brainstorm and come up with as many ideas as possible and to make sure to share them with me; and of course, they delivered. They were strong leaders throughout the school year beginning with our annual spirit week celebration, having 36 girls on our cheerleading squad, coming up with new ideas for our Day of Giving, including Brice Cook having his head shaved, continuing through the planning of their senior trip adventure to Kalahari Resort, Shamrock Shakes on St. Patrick’s Day, hosting our own prom for the first time since 1969, activities planned by our Mind Over Matter committee, adapting our senior banquet, right up to rescheduling their last day of school.

Graduation day began with Mass celebrated by our pastor, the Reverend Michael Alber, who provided inspiring words for the Class of 2021 during his homily. After Mass, the graduates and their families moved to the school gymnasium for commencement. Mr. Hodge opened the ceremony with prayer and shared some inspiring words with the graduates.  He shared the major achievements of the Class of 2021 which include:

  • 16 of the 24 students are members of the National Honor Society.
  • 17 out of 24 were recognized as CMAC Scholar Athletes, meaning they had at least a 3.4 GPA and lettered in at least two sports, one of which was in their senior year.
  • 20 out of the 24 plan to go on to some form of higher education, with 3 entering the workforce, two of those possibly in a skilled trade, and one looking at the military.
  • 18 of the 24 are graduating with honors (3.79 GPA or higher) with 11 of those having a weighted 4.0 GPA or higher and 20 having a grade point average of 3.50 or higher.
  • They have a combined total of over $222,000 dollars in scholarships committed to those who plan to attend college.

Valedictorian Avery Zimmerman and Salutatorian Colette Pohl addressed their classmates; thanking those who helped them along the way, sharing accomplishments, memories, good times together, and all the possibilities for a great future. Following the speeches, the graduates were called forward to receive their diploma from Fr. Mike. One by one they turned their tassel, and the Class of 2021 joined a group of approximately 2,000 Shamrock alumni around the world.

Fr. Mike closed the ceremony with prayer, and the graduates processed out of the gym and into the future. Following their final class picture together and the traditional tossing of caps, there were hugs, handshakes, and family pictures to take.

As seniors, our class of 2021 succeeded in ensuring all our students had a great year despite the challenges we faced in doing so. They served as role models for our younger students, especially their Little Rocks, and provided many outstanding suggestions for ways to improve our school. We are all extremely proud of all that they accomplished during their time at St. Patrick School.  We thank them for their leadership, work ethic, and how they have represented Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Roman Catholic Church, the Diocese of Grand Rapids, St. Patrick School, their families, and themselves.  We are proud to say that they leave St. Patrick School with a firm foundation to continue living our mission statement. We Pray! We Learn! We Achieve! We look forward to seeing what the future holds for the Class of 2021. May God bless each and every one of them.

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Professional Development for Teachers

March 23, 2021

In a typical school year, St. Patrick teachers will participate in five professional development days. These professional development days are crucial to the development of our teaching staff. Catholic education in the 21st century is evolving and becoming even better as it adapts to an ever-changing customer base, while retaining the foundation that was laid […]

In a typical school year, St. Patrick teachers will participate in five professional development days. These professional development days are crucial to the development of our teaching staff. Catholic education in the 21st century is evolving and becoming even better as it adapts to an ever-changing customer base, while retaining the foundation that was laid in place by our predecessors.

On Friday, March 12, St. Patrick teachers participated in their fifth professional development day of the 2020-21 school year. The sessions that were presented are as follows:

  • Rachel Selby, the School Outreach Coordinator for The Right Door For Hope, Recovery, and Wellness spoke to our teachers about mental health in the classroom and self-care. The main focus of this session was to learn how numerous mental health concerns are present in the classroom and tips to help support students with these concerns. Staff also discussed what self-care means and reflected on their own self-care. Rachel provided a self-care assessment, which helped staff reflect on different aspects of their life such as physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, relationship, and workplace. Staff were encouraged to take baby steps in improving their lowest scored area.
  • Our elementary principal, Mrs. Cortney Smith, and elementary teacher, Mrs. Mary Cook, presented information from a conference they attended titled Inclusion In Action Conference, from the FIRE Foundation in Kansas City, MO. This year, the two-day conference took place virtually with experts from across the nation and even the world, coming together to celebrate inclusion in the classroom. Together they focused on a school environment that includes human dignity, gentleness, kindness, and compassion to bring out the best in all of the students and provide opportunities for all. A focus was on all students learning together and from one another. Research has shown the benefits to learning side by side. Socialization, graduation rates, post academic success, and behavior outcomes improve significantly when all are included.
  • All staff watched a virtual presentation from the Sophia Institute, which provides the textbooks for our elementary religion curriculum, titled: “Created in Christ, Combating the Sin of Racism.”

Throughout the professional development day, all participants took part in reflection and discussion of how to apply the development training moving forward.

It is inspiring to see the level of devotion and commitment that exists within our teaching staff. They have been on the front line, providing our students with both in-person and remote learning options throughout the entire 2020-21 school year. Our professional development day provided them an opportunity to continue to develop their skills and abilities with the goal of ensuring that their students are provided with the best education possible.

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Celebrating the Successes of 2020

December 31, 2020

While many people would like to forget the year 2020, St. Patrick School would like to look at many of the major accomplishments we had despite the major challenge of educating our students during a pandemic. So, before we ring in 2021, let us look back at the top events for St. Patrick School during […]

While many people would like to forget the year 2020, St. Patrick School would like to look at many of the major accomplishments we had despite the major challenge of educating our students during a pandemic. So, before we ring in 2021, let us look back at the top events for St. Patrick School during 2020.

It would be impossible to rank them in order of importance, so I have placed them in chronological order instead:

  1. On Thursday, March 12, 2020, Governor Whitmer ordered all schools closed. St. Patrick School was ready. Our students only missed one day of school as our teachers continued to teach remotely through packets that were sent home and by teaching virtual lessons using Google Classroom.
  2. On Sunday, June 14, the St. Patrick High School Class of 2020 became one of the first senior classes in the State of Michigan to host an in-person commencement. They are the only senior class in St. Patrick history to have commencement in June, outside, and in a tent.
  3. At the end of August, St. Patrick School students returned safely to in-person education for the 2020-2021 school year. Our return to school plan was created over the summer months in conjunction with the State of Michigan Return to School Roadmap, the Diocese of Grand Rapids, and the Kent and Ionia County Health Departments.
  4. In September, Mr. Luis Arturo Araujo joined our teaching faculty as the K-12 Art/Technology instructor.  Mr. Art brought a great resume to the position, and his positivity and energy is contagious!
  5. Our school counselor, Mrs. Jenny Garcia, and senior Emma Scheurer, as a part of her senior Capstone Project, created the Mind Over Matter group to work on boosting student morale, to problem-solve any challenges our students face, and to promote mental health awareness, and a positive school culture.
  6. St. Patrick Elementary School ordered 150 Chromebooks in case elementary students are forced to learn remotely again. Once they arrive in December and are available for use, our schoolwide 1:1 Chromebook initiative will officially be complete. We also purchased the GoGuardian program to monitor student use of Chromebooks to help ensure our students are safe while working online.
  7. At the beginning of November, Laynie Meredith and Cozette Brown both qualified for the state meet in girls cross country. This is the first time our cross country program has had two runners qualify for the state meet in the same year.
  8. The varsity football team is currently 9-0 and has advanced to the state semifinal game for the third time in five years. They are awaiting information from the governor and the MHSAA to see if they will be able to finish the season.
  9. Senior Brice Cook kicked off the giving season by offering to have his head shaved if we raised $500 for Positive Solutions Informed Choices (PSIC). Brice allowed the top donors to shave his head after we raised $987. Not to be outdone, our K-8 students filled 91 shoeboxes as a part of the Shoebox Initiative. Finally, despite having the high school learning remotely, we collected boxes and boxes of canned goods, 219 toys for Toys for Tots, and many diapers and pull ups for PSIC.
  10. The St. Patrick School Advancement and Development team began The Former Pastors’ Shamrock Endowment Fund with $76,000 from a previous St. Patrick Parish pastor as well as $8,000 in donations from other various benefactors. This endowment will be used for tuition assistance for future generations of Shamrocks.

“We Achieve!” is the third and final part of our mission statement and it is evidenced by this list. Many hours of work by a great number of individuals were completed to make all these events happen throughout 2020. Our students and staff, with great support from our parents and donors have made this year a huge success. We are excited about these accomplishments and are even more excited for the prospect of bigger and better things to come in 2021. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at St. Patrick School!

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Advent is a Time to Prepare

November 27, 2020

While the secular world has already started counting down the days and basically celebrating Christmas, decorating their houses, putting up Christmas trees and doing their Christmas shopping, the Christian world will celebrate its new year with the beginning of Advent on Sunday, November 29. The word Advent derives from Latin, meaning ‘coming’ or ‘arrival.’ Jesus […]

While the secular world has already started counting down the days and basically celebrating Christmas, decorating their houses, putting up Christmas trees and doing their Christmas shopping, the Christian world will celebrate its new year with the beginning of Advent on Sunday, November 29.

The word Advent derives from Latin, meaning ‘coming’ or ‘arrival.’ Jesus is coming, and Advent is intended to be a season of preparation for His arrival. The Catholic Church’s liturgical season of Advent is a sacred time for prayer and quiet reflection as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth.

However, Advent is much more than recalling the humble beginning and birth of our Lord and Savior. We are also preparing for His future coming as we anticipate and look toward Christ’s second coming as judge of the world at the end of time.

During a normal school year, each Monday we would gather around the Advent wreath in our school gymnasium. We would light the candle for the week and take time to sing, pray, and remember exactly what it is we are preparing for on Christmas Day, when the church begins the season of Christmas.

The Advent wreath serves as a powerful visual reminder of the holiness of the season. It is shaped in a perfect circle to represent the eternity of God. The four candles used, three purple and one pink, mark the Sundays of Advent before Christmas. The purple candles are reminders that this should be a time of prayer and sacrifice to prepare us for the second coming of Christ. On the third Sunday, the pink candle is lit to announce Gaudete Sunday, a Sunday of rejoicing for Christ is coming near.

As you prepare for the coming of Christ on Christmas morning, remember to put time aside to participate in Advent. It is a time for charity and generosity for those in need. Make sure to reserve and put aside special time for extra prayer and reflection. Advent is also a time to fast, focus on one’s own spirituality, and reflect on how we can make ourselves and those around us better, especially during these challenging times. Finally, Advent is a time to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and take a renewed interest in and a focus on the beauty of the Liturgy.

When the final candle is lit on the wreath and Advent comes to a successful completion, it will be time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the beginning of the Christmas season.

 

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8-Player Football Continues to Bring Excitement to SPS

October 14, 2020

Beginning with the 2012 football season, St. Patrick School made a big decision to begin playing 8-player football.  It was a move that has provided much excitement to the Portland area as the Shamrock football team has been successful year after year.   Because of the success of our program and due to the low […]

Beginning with the 2012 football season, St. Patrick School made a big decision to begin playing 8-player football.  It was a move that has provided much excitement to the Portland area as the Shamrock football team has been successful year after year.

 

Because of the success of our program and due to the low number of 8-player football teams in our area, scheduling has been a challenge for our athletic director and varsity football coach Pat Russman.  The Shamrocks have continued to do much travelling, even making several trips to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

 

While many schools might not be impressed with the amount of distance their football team has to travel, the Shamrock faithful seem to have embraced our many journeys. They take these opportunities to get away with their families for some quality time and to sightsee around our beautiful state.

 

This past weekend was no different with a two-and-a-half-hour trip to Manistee to play Manistee Catholic Central. Many of our school families chose to stay at hotels in town, camp at an area campground, or stay in a cabin. With Michigan’s colors reaching peak, many were treated to a spectacular display of colors on the drive north.

 

When I reached the game, I discovered there were at least as many Shamrocks as the hometown crowd, despite the fact it was their homecoming game. This should not have been a surprise to me. Last fall was no different when we had many more fans than our opponents when we travelled to Bellaire for a game. Even when we played as far away as Engadine, our fans outnumbered the home crowd at least four to one.

 

Right from the onset, we have travelled to places up north such as Engadine, Onekema, and Marquette, and there have also been trips down to some of our southern areas of the state such as St. Joseph. All of these games are viewed as an opportunity to get away, sightsee, learn something new, and spend quality family time while supporting their sons’ endeavors on the football field or their daughters’ endeavors as they cheer on the sidelines.

 

It has been surprising to note that it is not just parents and our student athletes that make these trips to watch our team play. It is not uncommon to see parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, other family members, alumni, and friends attend the games and cheer on the Shamrocks.

 

Finally, our school spirit and the sportsmanship of our football players has been noted by many of our opponents over the years. When we went to a game in Engadine early in our 8-player career, one of their fans commented that “the Shamrocks brought more fans to the game than we have people living in our entire county.” The sportsmanship of our players was noted again this week when the coach of MCC posted the following on our Facebook page: “Great game Shamrocks! You played like gentlemen warriors and showed the most class that we have seen in some time. Good luck the rest of the season.”

 

Eight-player football has been a blessing to St. Patrick School by providing our students and our school families with many unforeseen opportunities as well as much success on and off the field. Over the past eight seasons, our teams have played in the semifinal game on four occasions and twice reached the state championship game. Our teams have also consistently been academic all-state, with multiple top ten finishes as well as placing first in the state one year.

 

We look forward to the remainder of the 2020 football season and to the many games that lie ahead for our football program, and all the future opportunities this will provide for our students and our school families.

 

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St. Pat’s Prepares for Safe Return to School

August 6, 2020

St. Patrick is committed to doing all it can to return our students safely to in-person education for the 2020-2021 school year. We are sharing our return to school plan which has been created in conjunction with the State of Michigan Return to School Roadmap, the Diocese of Grand Rapids, and the Kent and Ionia […]

St. Patrick is committed to doing all it can to return our students safely to in-person education for the 2020-2021 school year. We are sharing our return to school plan which has been created in conjunction with the State of Michigan Return to School Roadmap, the Diocese of Grand Rapids, and the Kent and Ionia County Health Departments.

While we know every stakeholder will not necessarily agree with every measure and precaution that has been taken, everyone needs to understand these steps are being taken to ensure our students can safely return to in-person learning.

If we are in Phase 3 or lower of the State of Michigan’s reopening plan, we will need to engage our students remotely. This remote learning will not be the same as it was in the spring. All grades will use Canvas, our new learning management system. In grades K-5, teachers will not be sending packets but will have a combination of whole groups and small groups that will meet online at scheduled times throughout the week. Assignments will be downloaded through Canvas.  Grades 6-12 will have a weekly schedule that includes scheduled class time and a teacher will be on the other end of the student’s screen. A printer/scanner is highly recommended if we are in phase 3 or lower.

If we are in Phase 3 or lower, we will not have preschool. Once we return to Phase 4 and have preschool, tuition will be paid on a prorated basis.

If we are in Phase 4 or higher, we will host in-person classes at St. Patrick School for grades PS-12. The highlights of our Phase 4 plan include the following (please go to our website at portlandstpats.com to see our Phase 4 and 5 plans):

  • It is extremely important that parents complete a wellness check on their student(s) before school each morning. A student who is running a fever or does not feel well needs to stay home for 10 days after their symptoms first appeared and for at least 24 hours with no fever and not taking any fever reducing medication.
  • Drop-off and pick-up: Before and after school latchkey drop-off and pick-up will remain the same. For elementary students, parents will pull into the parking lot between the school and the church and drop-off outside the main office door. Students will then proceed directly to their classroom (like we do on rainy days). Elementary after school pick-up will remain the same as it was in the 2019-2020 school year (pick-up location may change for some families). Elementary students may not enter the building until 8:30 a.m. and must be wearing masks upon entering the building. Middle school students will enter and exit at door #7 and high school students will enter and exit at door #8 (please do not park in the bus loading zone). Middle and high school students may not enter the building until 7:15 a.m. and must be wearing a mask upon entry.
  • Masks: All staff must wear masks all day unless they are by themselves or eating. K-5 students must wear masks in common areas such as the hallway and bathrooms only, and 6-12 must wear masks all day except when eating.
  • PS-8 will be staying in the same classroom throughout the day and teachers will be coming to the classrooms as scheduled. 9-12 will move classroom to classroom. Learning stations will be cleaned and sanitized after each class period.
  • Lunch: Hot lunch will be brought to classrooms for students who do not bring a sack lunch, and students will eat in their classrooms. Recess time will still be provided.
  • Students will be separated by grade level whenever possible, and preschool, lower elementary, upper elementary, middle school, and high school students will stay in their quadrant of the school whenever possible.

Please let us know by August 10 if your child will not be coming to school for in-person classes and will be doing remote learning so we can get everything set up to ensure they have a solid learning experience. Parents will be committing to remote learning for the first nine weeks. They can continue to make the decision to continue remote learning or switch to in-person at the end of each marking period.

We ask for your patience and support as we face the challenges and restrictions created by COVID-19. We will continue to do everything we possibly can do to ensure the safety of our students and staff. If you have any questions or concerns regarding our plan, please contact preschool through 8th grade principal Mrs. Cortney Smith at cortneysmith@portlandstpats.org or high school principal Mr. Randy Hodge at randyhodge@portlandstpats.org.

 

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Saying Goodbye to the Class of 2020

June 15, 2020

When I began my tenure as administrator of St. Patrick Catholic School, the students from the Class of 2020 were in 1st grade. After 12 years with them, we said goodbye on Sunday, June 14. On that day, they entered a new phase of their lives.   Our goal at St. Patrick is to ensure […]

When I began my tenure as administrator of St. Patrick Catholic School, the students from the Class of 2020 were in 1st grade. After 12 years with them, we said goodbye on Sunday, June 14. On that day, they entered a new phase of their lives.

 

Our goal at St. Patrick is to ensure that when our seniors receive their diplomas on graduation day, they have a rock-solid foundation for a successful life–a life that our Lord has prepared for each one of them. Our goal is that they will continue to serve as living representatives of our school mission statement: We Pray! We Learn! We Achieve!

 

While many events were similar to those of other classes that have come before them at St. Patrick High School, this class had a unique and memorable experience to say the least. The year started off like any normal school year and included our annual Spirit Week and homecoming celebrations, and our football team made it to the state finals with a trip to the Superior Dome in Marquette. Our school year continued to proceed without incident as any regular school year. The Class of 2020 had a great senior trip to Boyne Mountain Resort in February and were looking forward to winding down the school year with prom, senior banquet, graduation Mass, and commencement on the horizon.

 

Suddenly, the rug was pulled out from underneath them. School was closed for three weeks beginning on March 13 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This eventually led to the cancellation of the remainder of in-person classes and all extracurricular activities for the remainder of the school year.  The many traditions and events we take for granted were now looking like they might not happen. Instead, new events were created to give everyone an opportunity to recognize them for all they worked for and achieved.

 

We had pictures of each student posted on the window of our school, videos of and for the Class of 2020 made, and an awesome parade through our town. Finally, graduation Mass and commencement arrived, albeit with limited attendance and taking place in a tent instead of the church and school gymnasium.

 

Graduation began with Mass celebrated by our pastor, Reverend Michael Alber, who provided inspiring words during his homily. After Mass, it was time for our first outdoor and live streamed commencement in school history. I began by sharing the major achievements of the Class of 2020 which included the following:

 

  • 13 of the 26 students are members of the National Honor Society.
  • 17 were recognized as CMAC Scholar Athletes, meaning they had at least a 3.4 GPA and lettered in at least two sports, one of which was in their senior year.
  • Twenty-five out of the 26 have plans to go on to some form of higher education. One is joining the National Evangelization Team (N.E.T.) for a year or two.
  • One is discerning her vocation as a religious sister, and one is planning to attend seminary.
  • Two have signed a National Letter of Intent to participate in college volleyball.
  • Twelve are graduating with honors (3.79 GPA or higher) with six having a weighted 4.0 GPA or higher. Twenty-three have a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

 

Bishop David Walkowiak opened our commencement ceremony with prayer and Fr. Mike followed with some thoughts about the Class of 2020. Salutatorian Jeffrey Davlin and valedictorians Tyler Coyne and Bret Weller addressed their classmates, talking about the family atmosphere of St. Patrick School, sharing accomplishments, memories, good times together, and all the possibilities for a great future. Following the speeches, the graduates were called forward to receive their diplomas from Bishop Walkowiak.  One by one, they turned their tassel, and the Class of 2020 joined a group of more than 2,200 living Shamrock alumni around the world.

 

Fr. Mike closed the ceremony with prayer and the Class of 2020 processed out of the tent and into the future. They followed our annual Shamrock tradition of getting a post-graduation class picture on the steps in front of the school gym, and finally, they ended their high school career with the annual tossing of mortar boards (caps). It was an official ending to a great school career by a great group of students.

 

They are leaving with a rock-solid foundation of values, knowledge, wisdom, and faith. I can say with the utmost certainty that they prayed, they learned, and yes, without a doubt, they achieved. May God bless every one of them and their future endeavors as they move to the next phase of their lives.

 

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Tough Times Don’t Last

May 19, 2020

A Message from the Principal Our high school yearbook advisor asked me to share my thoughts on this school year for a “blurb” in the yearbook. I wanted to share what I wrote to the St. Patrick High School students who were here for the 2019-20 school year.   As we started the 2019-20 school […]

A Message from the Principal

Our high school yearbook advisor asked me to share my thoughts on this school year for a “blurb” in the yearbook. I wanted to share what I wrote to the St. Patrick High School students who were here for the 2019-20 school year.

 

As we started the 2019-20 school year, I reflected on all that had happened throughout the previous school year. We had 16 snow days, a flood, a gas leak, and a power outage day. We had missed so many days of school that year that the Office of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Grand Rapids required us to make up some of those days. I thought to myself, there is no way possible that we can have a crazier school year than the previous one.

 

Throughout the winter months, we only had one snow day and one two-hour delay. I could not help but think as spring neared that wow, this has really been a tame year with very little adversary. Little did I know what was about to hit. Within one week of having that thought, the governor of our great state issued an Executive Order forcing us to close school for three weeks which ended up leading to closing school for the remainder of the year.

 

I was amazed at the ease at which our high school staff and our students, working together with the support of our parents so easily transitioned to distance learning. It made me realize what a blessing we have here at St. Patrick School with such great students, teachers, and our school families.

 

Throughout the shutdown, I came into my office and worked each day. It was easy at first but became more difficult each day as I missed seeing the students in the building. I missed greeting them at the doorway each morning, seeing and talking to them in the hallways and around the school, stopping into the classrooms to see what they were learning, and going to watch them participate in extracurricular activities. I especially missed participating in those annual rites of passage for our senior class as their high school careers come to a successful completion.

 

Unfortunately, over my 12 years serving as administrator at St. Patrick School, I have come to take all the blessings we have here for granted. The opportunity to work with our students, to work with our school and parish staff, the opportunity we have to pray each day and attend Mass each week. Finally, the wonderful support we have from our school families and our parish community. We have countless blessings to be thankful for and we should always be mindful of them and all that we have.

 

I look forward to the day that all will return to normal and the teachers and students will once again fill our hallways with laughter, joy, excitement, and an eagerness to see friends, and learn new lessons. I hope and pray for the Class of 2020 as they move on with their lives and begin anew this journey we call life. Thank you to all of our high school students for being the great individuals you are. Thank you, Class of 2020, for great high school careers and for your great leadership.

 

Tough times don’t last but tough people do. Keep the faith that better days are ahead. We will persevere. We are Shamrocks!

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