Tier is Catholic-school proud - Catholic Courier

Tier is Catholic-school proud

Faith. Values. Strong academics. A family atmosphere.

Time and again, those are the themes that surface when teachers, staff, parents and students from the Southern Tier describe what makes their Catholic schools so special.

In all, six Catholic elementary schools and one Catholic high school are operating in the Tier area. Here are profiles of each:

All Saints Academy

Location: 158 State St., Corning

Established: 1855 (originally as St. Mary School)

Grades: Prekindergarten through 8

* All Saints is located at the former St. Mary School, on the campus of St. Mary Church, Corning.

* Joe Tobia, the recently retired All Saints principal, is a graduate of the school.

* All Saints is among a handful of Catholic elementary schools in the diocese that offers grades 7 and 8.

* At nearly 160 years old, All Saints is the second-oldest Catholic school operating in the Diocese of Rochester, behind only St. Mary, Canandaigua (founded in 1850). The earliest classes at St. Mary/All Saints were conducted in a single room in the church basement.

“All Saints Academy is a great school! The students all get along well and we have great teachers. I love doing the projects in class and the teachers make learning a lot of fun.” — Brynne Ketchum, eighth-grader

“After returning to this school more than 40 years later, I have seen firsthand that the ‘tradition of excellence’ is still very much alive here. I am, and always will be, very proud and very thankful to have spent eight years of my education at this Catholic school.” — Joe Tobia

“Nelson Mandela said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to the change the world.’ For us in Catholic education, we have the ultimate weapon because we are able to speak with our students about God and to God about our students.” — Mary Ann Lacey, first-grade teacher

Holy Family School

Location: 421 Fulton St., Elmira

Established: 1898

Grades: Pre-K through 6

* The school is located on the campus of St. Mary Southside Church. Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid, first Bishop of Rochester, dedicated the original St. Mary School on Aug. 28, 1898. It served grades 1 through 8 and was staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester.

* St. Mary School became Holy Family in 1986 as part of a consolidation process. It was a primary school serving grades pre-K through 3, then in 2009 became an elementary school for pre-K through 5, and in 2012 added a sixth grade.

“Holy Family has experienced an increase in enrollment in the last couple of years. The quality of education has an excellent reputation in the community. We have high academic standards; we practice our Catholic faith daily; and we serve our church and community with projects and prayers.” — Lorie Brink, principal

“Holy Family School is great. It is family-friendly and bully-free.” — Alex Welliver, sixth-grader

“This school is amazing. I have unforgettable friends. All the teachers look after you and make sure you are the best you can be.” — Alexandria Naylor, sixth-grader

“I like how we go to Mass on Tuesdays and how we get recess and play with friends.” — Madison Watts, sixth-grader

“Our school is a good school! We have field trips, good and nice teachers and a good and nice principal.” — Laura Crandall, sixth-grader

“I like how we can turn a small discussion into a big one.  I like the teachers — they help everyone, not just a few.” — Simone Ash, sixth-grader

Immaculate Conception School

Location: 320 W. Buffalo St., Ithaca

Established: 1884

Grades: Pre-K through 6

* Ithaca College provides music classes four times per week, and Cornell University leads afterschool enrichment activities such as learning about nanoscience.

* Immaculate Conception consistently scores the highest in Tompkins County on state tests.

* Students are natives of several countries, including Korea, China and New Zealand.

* The school has a strong scholarship and aid program supported by alumni, area parishes and fundraising efforts.

* A 100-year celebration of Immaculate Conception School, held in 1985, was attended by alumni from as far back as 1907.

“(I like this school) because my students work hard and are faith-filled.” — April Miller, teacher

“(I like it) because I have a great teacher and great friends.” — Ian Santana, fifth-grader

“I like to learn about letters. I like playtime.” — Matthew Fowler, pre-kindergartner

“I like to learn music and sing songs.” — Liliana Morgan, pre-kindergartner

“We are able to incorporate God’s goodness into every aspect of our school life. When children grow up with this foundation during their early years, they are bound to live it and share it throughout their lives.” — Donna Kuhar, aide

“I have had the pleasure of speaking with many alumni since I started last year. If there is one thing that I have heard consistently from our alumni, it is how their education at Immaculate Conception School served as a foundation for their lives.” — Don Mills, principal

St. Agnes School

Location: 60 Park Ave., Avon

Established: 1875

Grades: Pre-K through 6

* St. Agnes’ principal, Dr. Gerald E. Benjamin, has led the school for 18 years and is well-known for waiting outside each morning — in any weather — to greet students and parents as they arrive.

* The school stresses community service with fundraising drives for such organizations as Heifer International, Red Cross, World Wildlife Fund, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Mercy Flight and Golisano Children’s Hospital. Local service projects include serving lunch at the Avon Senior Nutrition Center; making lasagna dinners for the homebound; visiting nursing homes; and conducting food drives for the food pantry. The school also supports local veterans by arranging annual 9/11, Veterans Day and Flag Day events.

“Our children learn faith — not just the basics of Christianity, but how to have a relationship with God.” — Cindy Zhe, teacher and librarian

“The St. Agnes experience provides the opportunity to create, restore and sustain one’s hope in a sound, challenging and faith-based educational program.” — Carrie and Casey Griffiths, parents

“Catholic education, as experienced at St. Agnes, promotes a commitment to faith and virtue, high sense of social justice and way of life based on responsible stewardship.” — Nichole and Marty Caiazzo, parents

“St. Agnes is truly building a foundation — of faith, of strong academics, of kindness and of service to others — for our children to grow on and to succeed.” — Karin and Joseph Fetzner, parents

St. Mary Our Mother School

Location: 811 Westlake St., Horseheads

Established: 1959

Grades: Pre-K through 6

* At 55 years old, St. Mary Our Mother is the most recent of all diocesan Southern Tier schools to open.

* The original convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph — the school’s founding religious order — is due to open as a 3-year-old preschool program in the fall of 2015.

* Community outreach is emphasized by students, families and faculty. Efforts during the recent holiday season included collecting items for the Samaritan Center’s Second Place East shelter; donating Thanksgiving food to a local family; collecting food for St. Mary Our Mother Parish’s Christmas Basket program; Operation Shoe Box, through which 62 gift boxes were sent to children in Third World countries; the kindergarten’s involvement in a Pajama Drive that provided children with pajamas and books; and caroling at the local mall, a nursing facility and as part of a telethon for the Arctic League that gives toys to needy children.

“Clearly, service, which comes directly from our faith, is a hallmark of St. Mary Our Mother School.” — Marilyn Zinn, principal

“I like Operation Shoe Box because some parents can’t give gifts, so we help them.” — Kiersten McCarthy, third-grader

“Operation Shoe Box helps so that kids across the world can have Christmas like we do here.” — Theo Weisman, third-grader

“What I like best about our school is the sense of family that is evident throughout the classes.” — Patricia Madison, pre-K teacher

St. Patrick School

Location: 309 Front St., Owego

Established: 1859

Grades: Pre-K through 6

* In 1950 the school moved from a four-classroom schoolhouse to the former Stanbrough Mansion, located directly behind St. Patrick Church, which had been redesigned to accommodate a school facility. A new six-classroom addition arrived in 1967.

* The school held a yearlong 150th-anniversary celebration in 2009.

* Students and staff were displaced by flooding from the Susquehanna River on the first day of the 2011-12 school year. After two months in temporary facilities, they returned to St. Patrick in mid-November thanks to a rapid recovery effort from the flood, which was declared a major disaster for the Tioga County area.

“All I can say is that I love St. Patrick School, and this school is the most educational and loving school I can think of. The staff is understanding and they help students learn about their faith and have good values.” — Morgan Smith, sixth-grader

“St. Patrick School has offered high academic standards, moral development and a faith-filled education to its students for over 150 years. I have been blessed with 12 years of teaching in this wonderful, family-like environment.” — Annette Larrabee, fourth-grade teacher

“Whether walking through the halls of the former Stanbrough Mansion or visiting the wing that was dedicated by Bishop Fulton Sheen in 1967, it is obvious that faith and family are the foundation of all that we do at St. Patrick School.” — Paula Smith, principal and sixth-grade teacher

Notre Dame High School

Location: 1400 Maple Ave., Elmira

Established: 1955

Grades: 7 through 12

* The school added grades 7 and 8 in the fall of 2012.

* Notre Dame currently has 12 faculty and staff members who are graduates of the school.

* This past October, the Middle States Association recommended the school for reaccreditation.

“Notre Dame has helped, and will continue to help, me grow into a better student, person and friend.” — Ally Wichtowski, sophomore

“Notre Dame represents exactly what a quality high school should be. It provides a welcoming environment for all students, along with access to some of the best teachers and educators in the area.” — Colton Hillman, senior

“Students at Notre Dame learn to feed the hungry, receive the stranger, to welcome the disenfranchised, to care for the sick, to empathize with the prisoner. It is the way to start a heaven on earth.” — John Olisky, teacher

“Honestly, the community is the best part. Everyone knows everyone and we’re all friends. The teachers provide a good mixture of comfort and professionalism.” — Seamus O’Brian, freshman

“Notre Dame is a close community of friends and teachers. What I like best are the friendships I have made with fellow students and teachers.” — Jack Haskell, senior

“I came to Notre Dame in 1972 after the flood. It has become my home and I have never regretted a minute of my time. Our families are special and our students work diligently to always be and do their best.” — Sister Mary Walter Hickey, RSM, president

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