By Tanya Connor
The Catholic Free Press
WEBSTER – “Awesome!”
That’s how Emily Walsh, a sixth-grader from St. Louis Parish, described her new school, All Saints Academy.
It was Sept. 8. Bishop McManus had just cut the ribbon for the new school, after celebrating what could be called a double-birthday Mass in St. Louis Church.
“We are celebrating the birth of one of the newest schools in the diocese,” the bishop said of All Saints Academy. After a merging process undertaken in the last few years, the school was formed this fall from the schools of St. Louis Parish (St. Louis Elementary) and Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish (St. Anne Elementary).
The bishop said the new school would continue the Catholic education that has been so vibrant among the three parishes in town. (St. Joseph Basilica Parish also has a school – St. Joseph Elementary – that is still independent.)
Bishop McManus noted that that day they were also celebrating the birthday of the Blessed Mother, whose “yes” to God’s will brought salvation. Without her positive response, we don’t know whether there would be a Catholic Church or Catholic education, the bishop said.
He told students they’ll get a fine academic education here, but also education in the faith. He asked them to think about how Mary accepted God’s will in her life.
“God has a plan for every single one of you,” he said, and the purpose of Catholic education is to discover that. God’s plan is that when earthly life ends, each person will spend eternity in heaven, the bishop said.
“I pray that this education will open your minds to the love God has for you,” he said.
After Mass an opening ceremony was held. Students carried forward pictures of the school buildings and a banner which said, “Welcome to All Saints Academy.” It bore logos of the new school and its sports teams, All Saints Academy Knights.
Father William F. Sanders, St. Louis’ pastor, and Father Adam Reid, Sacred Heart’s pastor, held a ribbon, which Bishop McManus cut.
Afterwards, Father Sanders brought Emily Walsh over to tell The Catholic Free Press what she’d told him. He said when he asked her earlier how school was, she replied, “Awesome!” (School started Aug. 31.) That’s an example of the all-round attitude about All Saints Academy, he said.
“We’re extremely pleased,” he said. Parents have been very supportive, he said, and he can’t say enough about David H. Grenier, head of school, and Sean Gilrein, assistant head of school, who have excellent track records in public schools.
“I loved it,” Emily said of coming to All Saints Academy. She said she attended St. Louis Elementary School in kindergarten and first grade, then went elsewhere. With All Saints Academy opening this fall, her mother wanted to try out the new school.
“It was just special to have the bishop here to help us start the new journey,” Mr. Grenier said.
There’s a good mix of students in a class, up from 12 to 15 to about 21 now, he said.
“What that does, it gives the kids more variety, experience, exposure,” he said.
“It’s a little easier now because I started to know everyone,” said Emma Raps, a sixth-grader who attended St. Anne Elementary since pre-school and now studies with former St. Louis students too.
“Last year we merged sports first and that was fun” because practices were held in St. Anne’s gym, said Anna Czechowski, a sixth-grader who attended St. Louis Elementary since kindergarten. At the gym she got to see her friends and meet new ones, she said.
This year it’s new because she doesn’t know her way around St. Anne’s school building, used by grades 5-8, she said. (St. Louis’ school building houses kindergarten-grade 4, and both campuses have pre-schoolers.)
Victoria Spitz, another sixth-grader who attended St. Louis since kindergarten, also said she had to get used to learning her way around a new building. But of the new school she said, “I like it; I got to meet new friends.” And switch classes, which makes the day go by faster.
“It was a little different – a few more teachers, so that we have to move to different teachers constantly,” was how her brother Ryan, an eighth-grader, described it. He said last year they had one teacher in the morning and one in the afternoon.
“Everyone’s nice,” he said. “Everyone in my class I’ve known since before All Saints.” He’s just getting to know them better now. He said it’s a good feeling to be a member of the new school’s first graduating class – but he has to get through the year first.