Greece’s St. Lawrence School notes its 60th anniversary - Catholic Courier
A student works at a computer

Wes Maier works on a computer at St. Lawrence School in Greece Jan 25. (Courier photo by Jeff Witherow)

Greece’s St. Lawrence School notes its 60th anniversary

GREECE — During St. Lawrence School’s early years, Maureen Daley recalled, the campus didn’t yet have a gymnasium or playground. Students made do with the church parking lot for physical education, setting up portable basketball hoops.

“We did a lot of hopscotch and jump-roping,” said Daley, whose maiden name is Kretchmer. She attended the school for nine years before her eighth-grade graduation in 1976.

These days, Daley said, St. Lawrence has more amenities — but as a whole, “I don’t think it’s much different, to be honest with you.”

What hasn’t changed, she said, is the school’s steady commitment to a faith-based education and family environment. All four of Daley’s siblings, her three children and now a grandson — Brayden Daley, a first-grader — have experienced those intangibles through the years as well.

However, Daley said, the family ties at St. Lawrence go well beyond her blood connections.

“It’s a community that’s a family. Anybody would do anything for you,” she said.

“Everyone’s like family here,” agreed Caiden Oliver, a fifth-grader.

The school community is celebrating its 60th birthday in 2023-24. According to Crystal Criticos, first-year principal, St. Lawrence’s 174 students have been in high gear this anniversary year with a variety of extracurricular, service and spiritual offerings.

“St Lawrence is very vibrant, with a lot of exciting activities and a lot more excitement to come,” Criticos said.

Greece school offers long list of activities

The school offered its first classes in 1963, four years after St. Lawrence Parish was established. Its current red-brick building opened in 1965 at 1000 N. Greece Road, and its first eighth-grade class graduated in 1969.

Currently, St. Lawrence offers prekindergarten through fifth grade. As the only diocesan Catholic institution in northwest Monroe County — the nearest other such school is 10 miles away — St. Lawrence draws youths from a number of public school districts.

Johnny Male, a fifth-grader, said he appreciates St. Lawrence’s high academic standards.

“The teachers are sort of strict, but in a nice way,” he remarked.

St. Lawrence also features such service opportunities as the recent Kids Heart Challenge, an educational and fundraising initiative with the American Heart Association; a holiday collection that garnered more than a ton of food and hygiene items for Greece Ecumenical Food Shelf and Clothing Closet; and a book drive for special-need students at the Mary Cariola Center.

In addition, an upcoming Scholastic book fair, set for March 5-7, was expanded this year to include a family literacy evening.

Parents are often involved along with the students, regularly helping out with after-school clubs by lending their expertise and knowledge in such areas as cooking, sewing, computer technology and sports.

Jen DiVasto, head of the parent involvement committee, noted that the group has been steadily expanding its range of participation.

“The school was already doing wonderful things, and we just added to it,” she said.

St. Lawrence School maintains strong faith component

Spiritual activities also are plentiful at St. Lawrence, as evidenced by the fifth-graders’ Living Stations of the Cross presentation coming up March 8 at 1 p.m., and a May crowning set for May 22. In addition, the parish and school come together once per month for the 10 a.m. Sunday Mass, when one grade is highlighted and students from that grade serve in liturgical roles. The next “Spotlight Mass” is coming up March 10, during which third-graders will be recognized.

Criticos noted that Father Lee Chase, pastor of St. Lawrence Parish, strongly backs the school — as does the rest of the parish and especially the students’ parents, whom she considers the most effective sources for drawing new students.

“Our families share with other families how much they love the school,” said Criticos, who taught fourth grade for two years at St. Lawrence before assuming the principal’s position in August 2023 from Frank Arvizzigno, who now is diocesan superintendent of schools.

For Kim Eichas — a prekindergarten teacher who has served at St. Lawrence for 13 years — her love of the school stems from its ever-present focus on the Catholic faith.

“What’s very nice to me is being able to share my faith with students. We talk about how much Jesus and God love them, how much Mary loves them, that Jesus is smiling down on us,” she said.

“To be able to pray and feel good about that, that’s really important,” Daley agreed.

Tags: Catholic Schools, Monroe County West
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