St. Patrick Catholic School

122 West Street, Portland, MI   (517) 647-7551

Reflections by Randy Hodge

Mr. Hodge's Reflections also appear in the Portland R & O and the Ionia Sentinel Standard nearly every week.

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PTO Looking for new members

Posted on August 14, 2017 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The St. Patrick School Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) closed out a busy year in June by approving $5,000 towards technology improvements for the school. They also approved up to $10,000 in donations to upgrade the school’s whiteboards.

Now they are preparing for next school year with new officers and they are looking for you to help join them in their efforts. We welcome the following individuals to the PTO leadership team:

• Mrs. Jackie Morris, President

• Mrs. Jen Chamberlain, Vice President

• Mrs. Nikki Mosser, Secretary

• Mrs. Mara Pline, Treasurer

The PTO typically meets the third Wednesday of the month in room #115 at the school unless there is a conflict. Scheduled meetings for the 2017-18 school year are:

• September 20

• October 18

• November 8

• December 13

• January 17

• February 21

• March 21

• April 18

• May 16

The meetings begin at 6:00 p.m. and usually last about half an hour. Once a parent attends at least five meetings, they will receive an “Out of Dress Code” slip for each one of their children.

The PTO leadership team is planning the following events for the upcoming school year and are looking for volunteers to help them in their efforts.

• While their used uniform sale will already be complete by the time this goes to press, the PTO used uniform store remains open in the school. You can shop anytime during regular office hours. The PTO is always accepting gently used uniform donations to keep their stock updated, you can drop off your items in the school office (please no donations of clothing that is ripped, torn or stained).

• They assisted at the Back to School Open House with the setup, serving of hot dogs, cupcakes, and lemonade, manning an information table, running the used uniform sale and with the cleanup.

• The annual Back to School Tailgate will take place before our first home football game on Aug 25th. Everyone is welcome to attend! They will have kid’s games and serve hot dogs. They would appreciate if everyone brought a dish to pass, but we hope you’ll attend even if you cannot bring a dish.

• The PTO will host our annual Scholastic book fair from October 6th through the 15th. The book fair will be open during our annual Fall Festival which takes place on October 8.

• They will host our annual Kidsfest during the Fall Festival. Kidsfest games and drawings take place on the second floor of the school. They are always seeking out donated prizes.

• The annual Wagon Wheel Wine Tasting fundraiser will occur again on Thursday, November 16 beginning at 6:30 p.m. We hope you’ll join us!

• There are many other activities they are responsible for including feeding the students on our annual Pay It Forward Day, feeding the staff during the evening of Parent-Teacher conferences and providing goodies for our veterans during our annual Veterans Day celebration. Please visit the school website ( and click on our “For Parents” icon to learn more about PTO activities.

We are looking forward to working with our PTO as they continue to do great things on behalf of our students, staff and school. We encourage our school parents to be actively involved with our PTO. It is a great opportunity to get involved, meet other parents, make new friends and help lighten the load by assisting at the many activities and events that take place throughout the school year.

For more information about the PTO, feel free to contact PTO President Jackie Morris at


Gearing up for a new school year

Posted on July 31, 2017 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

The school office is open and ready to go and the final preparations are taking place to make sure everything is ready to go for the 2017-18 school year. There will be a whirlwind of activity as we ensure we get off to a great start at St. Patrick School. The teaching staff will soon be in their classrooms working hard and our fall sports teams will begin practice in anticipation of the upcoming season. St. Patrick is a school which serves the entire Portland community so we want to make you aware of our fall calendar.

• August 7: Fall practices begin for our football team.

• August 9: Fall practices begin for our volleyball and cross country teams. Please check our school website, Facebook and Twitter pages (page names are below) for practice times.

• August 15-17: The teaching staff reports for professional development.

• August 16: We host our annual Welcome Back to School Open House. This begins at 6:30 p.m. in the church with introductions and announcements. Parents and students will have time to visit classrooms, meet their teacher and drop off any supplies. We welcome all members of the community to join us for this important night!

• August 22: The school faculty will attend the diocesan back to school celebration in Grand Rapids.

• August 23: First day of school for students in grades DK-12.

• August 25: Join us for the Back to School tailgate at our first home football game against Waldron at Portland High School.

• September 1-4: No School for Labor Day.

• September 5/6: First day of school for preschool students.

• September 11-12: Picture day for all students.

• September 22: Annual Homecoming football game.

• October 11: Confirmation at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew in Grand Rapids at 7:00 p.m.

• October 12: Parent/Teacher Conferences from 4:30-7:30 p.m.

• October 13: Early Release Day with Parent/Teacher conferences taking place from 12:30-3:30 p.m.

We are excited about the new school year and are ready for another great start! There are many great upcoming events and we look forward to seeing everyone back at school soon.

If you want to keep informed of activities taking place at St. Patrick School, go to our website:, click on the “About Us” icon and pull down to our calendar. This lists all activities taking place at St. Patrick School. We also encourage you to follow our Facebook page (St. Patrick School – Portland, Michigan) and Twitter account (@PortlandStPats) for the latest information.

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your summer and find time for rest and relaxation to renew yourself in mind, body and soul.

2017 Spring Sports Wrap Up

Posted on June 23, 2017 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

The 2017 St. Patrick School spring sports season has officially come to an end. We would like to congratulate all of our teams for their efforts throughout the season. A lot of time and hard work was put forth on the field, track, course, and in the classroom by our student athletes to ensure success.

The Shamrock baseball team won an outright CMAC title, repeated as the district and regional champions, advanced to the Division IV championship game where they were crowned as State Champions for the first time in program history with a school record 34 wins. Individual honors include:

• Bryan Scheurer – Division IV Coach of the Year

• Brendan Schrauben: 1st team CMAC, All District, 1st team All-State Catcher, Academic All-State, LSJ Sports Awards Top 10 Baseball Player, Diamond Classic Scholarship winner and attending Alma College to play baseball

• Graham Smith: 2nd team CMAC, All District, Academic All-State

• Noah Goodman: 1st team CMAC, All-District, 2nd team All-State Pitcher

• Dan Mackowiak: 1st team CMAC, All District

• Brandon Scheurer: 1st team CMAC, All District, 1st team All-State Infield

• Nathan Lehnert: Honorable Mention CMAC

• Devin Fedewa: 1st team CMAC, All District

• Sam Mauren: 2nd team CMAC

The varsity softball team also had a solid season finishing in third place in the CMAC and won the Vestaburg Invitational. Individual awards include:

• Kelsey Schneider: 2nd team CMAC, All District, Academic All-State

• Karlie Bartlett: Honorable Mention CMAC, All District, Academic All-State

• Samantha Leonard: Honorable Mention CMAC, All-District, Academic All-State

• Katie Coyne: 1st team CMAC, All District

• Chloe Cross: 1st team CMAC, All District

• Alaina Schrauben: 2nd team CMAC

• Team: Academic All-State Award and All District Sportsmanship Award

We were very excited to not only be able to field a full varsity golf team but a partial JV team as well. The golf team improved from 7th place in the CMAC last year to a 4th place finish this year. Senior Samuel Hodge finished 2nd team CMAC.

The girls and boys varsity track teams also had a strong season. The boy’s team earned a 3rd place trophy at the Webberville Invitational and finished in 6th place at regionals. The girl’s team earned a 2nd place trophy at the Webberville Invitational, finished 5th in a tough CMAC and placed 4th at regionals. Together, they tied or broke 10 school records and earned 151 medals. Individual honors include:

• Brittany Thelen: Honorable Mention CMAC (4x400); Honor Roll Meet Medalist (4x400); All-Region and State Qualifier (100, 4x200, 4x400); All-State & Academic All-State (4x200, 4x400); School Record (4x200)

• Annie Gunderman: 2nd team CMAC (400); Honorable Mention CMAC (4x400); Honor Roll Meet Medalist (400 and 4x400); Honor Roll Meet Qualifier (100); All-Region, All-State & Academic All-State (400, 4x200 and 4x400); School Records (400 & 4x200)

• Leah Cook: Honorable Mention CMAC (Long Jump & 4x400); Honor Roll Meet Medalist (4x400); All-Region and State Qualifier (Long Jump, 4x200, 4x400); All-State & Academic All-State (4x200, 4x400); School Record (4x200)

• Emma Gunderman: Honorable Mention CMAC (300 hurdles & 4x400); Honor Roll Meet Medalist (4x400); Honor Roll Meet Qualifier (300 hurdles); All-Region and State Qualifier (300 hurdles, 4x200, 4x400); All-State & Academic All-State (4x200 & 4x400), School Record (4x200)

• Jerika Kihn: School Record (Pole Vault)

• Ashton Walker: Webberville Invitational Runner of the Meet; 1st Team CMAC (3200); 2nd team CMAC (800); Honor Roll Meet Medalist (1600); School Record, All-Region, State Qualifier, All-State & Academic All-State (1600 & 3200);

• Greg Doll: Webberville Invitational Field Athlete of the Meet; Honorable Mention CMAC (110 hurdles); 2nd team CMAC & State Qualifier (shot put);

As a Catholic School, we expect our student athletes to represent us in a positive manner, bringing Christ to everything they do, and make us proud with their sportsmanship. Without a doubt, they have done so and represented our school mission statement: We Pray! We Learn! We Achieve! to their fullest, God-given potential.


Capping Off a Successful Year

Posted on June 17, 2017 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

It’s hard to believe but another school year has come and gone! Each year our success is possible because of everyone who lends a hand in making St. Patrick the place it is. We couldn’t do it without you. I hope you know how grateful all of us at St. Patrick School are of your commitment throughout the school year.

On behalf of our pastor Fr. Larry King, pastoral associate Deacon Don Sobolewski, Mrs. Townsend, and myself, we would like to offer many thank you’s for a great 2016-17 school year. We would like to specifically thank the following:

• Our school families for making the commitment to send their children to St. Patrick School. We appreciate that you are a part of our school family and that you let us be a part of yours. This thank you extends to all our grandparents, as well.

• Our top-notch teaching staff, school counselor, coaching staff and parish staff members. All of you are an integral part of our family and we couldn’t do anything without you. Thank you for continuously going above and beyond to ensure all of our students are cared for.

• The student body for working hard both in their academics and in extracurricular activities and for serving as living examples of their Catholic faith. We can’t wait to see how you grow and what you will achieve next school year.

• The entire school support staff. We are blessed to have excellent administrative assistants who work in our school and parish office. Their ability to multitask and accomplish so much each day never ceases to amaze me. In addition, we are blessed to have an excellent maintenance and custodial staff who keep our school and grounds remarkably neat and clean. There are so many others, too many to name, including those who work in latchkey, the lunchroom and on the playground. All of you are involved in the important task of running our parish school.

• The volunteers who do so many things behind the scenes! We rely on our school board, Father Flohe Foundation, PTO, and Athletic Association members as well as many other groups and individuals who help out at the school throughout the year.

• Thank you to everyone who donated to the school or parish this year! Your financial support allows us to offer an education that nourishes the entire mind, body, and soul of a child. You are helping us to create the future leaders of our Catholic Church and community. Thank you for your generosity!

We would like to express our gratitude to all for your trust, support, and cooperation during the school year. We are appreciative and thankful to everyone who has anything to do with making St. Patrick School a great place to educate the children of Portland and its surrounding communities. We hope that you will take time this summer to rest and enjoy the wonderful opportunity to renew body, mind, and spirit before we begin another school year.


What's New for Next Year?

Posted on June 2, 2017 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (0)

As the school year winds down and we prepare to wrap up another successful one, many individuals have asked me what new items are being planned for the upcoming school year at St. Patrick School. So, what will be new when the bell rings in late August?

Technology: We will have NEXT IT as our information technology provider. They will assist us as we replace our teacher laptops with new devices. We will eliminate our secondary computer lab as our high school student’s transition to a 1:1 Chromebook program. We will have one Chromebook cart with 30 devices available for middle school use and our elementary school computer lab will be replaced with Chrome Boxes. Thank you to everyone who donated at this year’s Shamrock Auction! Through your generosity we can purchase these devices.

Dual enrollment opportunities: We are looking forward to partnering with Aquinas College in Grand Rapids to provide college courses on our high school campus. They will send an instructor to St. Patrick School on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week. Members of the junior and senior class may take Introduction to Communications in the fall and Public Speaking in the spring. The public or students in area high schools may enroll and attend these courses as well. For more information, please contact our school office (647-7551).

Switching back to the ACT: When the State of Michigan made the switch to the SAT test two years ago, we attempted to make the switch as well. Unfortunately, this hasn’t worked out as we hoped. But, we have made an agreement with ACT and in the spring of 2018 our junior class will again be taking this test.

Senior class electives: One of our recent goals has been to increase the number of electives for our seniors. Along with the Aquinas College courses, our seniors may also enroll in one of the following new elective courses: teacher aide, a study to work cooperative, serving as a peer-to-peer mentor, strength and conditioning, human anatomy and physics. Seniors may still attend Heartlands Institute of Technology, take dual enrollment courses through another college or they may take AP Biology, AP U.S. History or AP calculus.

Increased counseling services: For the past two years, one part-time counselor has served our DK-12 student body. To help our students, we will be bringing in a second part-time counselor which will allow them to have access to a counselor all five days of the week.

Students praying the rosary before funerals: Our school board mission effectiveness committee will be starting a new program where one of our classes will be outside praying the rosary each time St. Patrick Church has a funeral during a school day. The students will be outside as family and friends arrive at the church. We hope this will help ease their pain, suffering and grief knowing there are others praying for them.

St. Patrick School is excited and getting ready for an outstanding 2017-18 school year! We are excited about these new programs and are currently enrolling new students. I encourage you to take a look at our prospective families webpage: and schedule a tour. Welcome Scholarships, along with our “Try Us! You’ll Like Us!” guarantee are available to new families.



St. Patrick Students Find Success at Heartland

Posted on June 2, 2017 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (0)

There is much talk recently in financial and educational circles about the job and career opportunities in vocational technology fields which have come to traditionally be known as the “trades.” As opportunities in these fields continue to increase, we seek to help our students pursue the education needed to fulfill the demands of these careers. And at St. Patrick they can get started, while in high school, by attending the Heartlands Institute of Technology (H.I.T.), located on the Ionia High School campus.

Heartlands Institute of Technology is the career center serving the students of Ionia County. This program is at the forefront of preparing students to be career and college ready. It helps students build core academic skills by applying skills as they would in the workplace. They help students develop or improve their employability as well as job skills related to a specific career pathway. Students have the opportunity to work and learn a career that moves from a traditional classroom approach to one that offers a hands-on approach.

Heartlands Institute of Technology offers the following programs:

• Allied Health (Physical and Occupational Therapy professions, Athletic training)

• Aviation Technology

• Computer Network Administration

• Construction Technology

• Criminal Justice

• Culinary Arts

• Diesel Technology

• Machine Tool

• Plant/Animal Science

Since there are many jobs and career opportunities in these fields we have encouraged students to consider taking on a trade as a potential career. As a result, St. Patrick School has 13 students attending H.I.T. this year. Traditionally, only three or four students a year have pursued classes.

On May 16, H.I.T. hosted their annual awards banquet. The following St. Patrick students received awards:

Distinguished Student Award: Greg Doll

Program Award Winners: Blake Hodge (Construction)

David Kreiner (Computers)





Student of the Month: David Kreiner

Greg Doll

Sam Hodge

Blake Wohlschied


Senior Honor Cord Recognition: Gregory Doll

Noah Goodman

Blake Hodge

Sam Hodge

Graham Smith

Hunter Barber


4.0 Award: Bret Drake

Graham Smith


Recognition for participation in the MITES (Michigan Industrial and Technology Education Society) Competition: Blake Hodge

Sam Hodge


There are many benefits to students considering pursuing a career in a trade including:

• A strong future job prospect for a majority of these trades with pending shortages in some fields. This offers job security for careers that are nearly impossible to outsource.

• There are many well-paying jobs/careers in these fields.

• Most offer strong benefit packages that include insurance and retirement.

• There is a limited amount of schooling needed to get started, which in most cases means less cost for an education and an earlier start in the workforce.

• A majority of the education is hands-on and limited in traditional schooling.

We will continue to encourage our students to pray and discern their vocation and career choices as they continue their journeys throughout high school. We are very excited our students have the opportunity to receive the benefits that Heartlands Institute of Technology offers.


Too Good for Drugs

Posted on May 19, 2017 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (0)

One of the ways we work to keep our students safe is to focus on their long-term health and well-being. One of the threats for young people everywhere is the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. Research indicates when substance abuse prevention programs are properly implemented in schools and communities; use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs is reduced.

For many years, St. Patrick students have participated in the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) substance abuse program. Unfortunately, this program was not available this year.

We were fortunate however, to find and implement a new program at St. Patrick School for our 5th grade students. “Too Good for Drugs” builds the framework for drug-fee living through a fun and interactive journey of setting reachable goals, making responsible decisions, and refusing negative peer pressure. The lessons review the negative effects of alcohol and tobacco on the body, as well as the goal-compromising effects of marijuana and other drugs. “Too Good for Drugs” is an evidence-based curriculum by the Mendez Foundation.

Mrs. Debbie Thalison, Ionia county substance abuse prevention director and Ionia county community health supervisor, worked with our students on the program. Each week, she led them through the program with role playing, interactive games, discussions and sharing.

This week marks the 10th and final week of the program. Students will receive t-shirts, wristbands and a certificate of completion when they are done. Each participating school receives a plaque which is updated every year the program is completed.

We are blessed that the funding for this program has come from the Ionia County Substance Abuse Initiative (ICSAI), the Ionia County Health Department and Mid-State Health Network. The ICSAI is the county initiative for substance abuse prevention which has both an advisory board and a workgroup. The workgroup consists of community members, local public agencies, schools, and local treatment providers. The Advisory Board is a 7-member volunteer board that is appointed by the Ionia County Board of Commissioners representing each of the (7) commissioners’ districts. ICSAI meets monthly to focus on substance abuse prevention services in our community through data collection and analysis, information dissemination, community engagement and mobilization. Among the many programs offered through the ICSAI is the “Too Good for Drugs” program.

The St. Patrick School community would like to congratulate our 5th grade students on their completion of the program. We hope they continue to keep these lessons, skills and tools with them throughout the rest of their lives.

We would also like to thank Mrs. Debbie Thalison for working with our students each week and the Ionia County Substance Abuse Initiative board, the Ionia County Health Department and Mid-State Health Network for providing the funding for this program.


Keeping our children safe

Posted on May 12, 2017 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)

As the school year wraps up we begin to enter into a summer mode where we’re more relaxed and carefree. However, this can also mean we become more carefree in other areas of our life like paying attention to the safety of students in our community in and around school zones. I would like to work together with you to make sure that safety continues to be a top priority for our students and all students in the Portland area both while school is in session and during the summer months.

Areas where we can work together to improve the safety and well-being of our students include:

• Speeding in a school zone. We’ve all done it once or twice but consistently drivers exceed the posted 25-mile-per-hour speed limit when travelling by the school on both West Street and Grand River Avenue. Students are crossing Grand River Avenue throughout the day to access the student parking lot or Alton Park. We ask that you watch out for students crossing at all times of the day, not just in the morning and afternoon and slow down always.

• Parking on both sides of the street near Father Flohe Field. When both baseball and softball games are going on at Father Flohe Field and during large events like Summerfest we have people parked on both sides of Union Street. Please remember that children are not looking both ways and may potentially dart out in front of cars when crossing to go to West Side to purchase goodies. Students should avoid jaywalking and cross at intersections where it is safer to cross.

• Car seats, as required by state law. Michigan law states: Children must be properly buckled in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4-feet-9-inches tall. Children must ride in a seat until they reach the age requirement or the height requirement, whichever comes first.

• Texting and driving. Most of us are glued to our phones 24/7 now. Even though it’s dangerous, many people still text and drive. I urge you to set an example for your children where you leave the phone down or out of sight while driving.

• Stopping for school buses. Many people are still not stopping for the red, overhead lights on school buses when they are dropping off and picking up students. These are the rules you need to remember when approaching a school bus:

o When overhead lights are flashing yellow: Prepare to stop

o When overhead lights are flashing red: Stop

o When hazard warning lights are flashing: Proceed with caution

I hope we can all work together to keep our children safe. They are our most precious treasure and their safety is our concern both inside and outside of school.


Seniors Put the Scholar in Athlete!

Posted on May 5, 2017 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

On Sunday, April 23, the Central Michigan Athletic Conference (CMAC) held its annual Scholar Athlete Banquet at the Eagle Eye Country Club. The banquet, which is held each April, honors seniors from the nine CMAC schools who have maintained a grade point average above 3.40 and who also lettered in two or more varsity sports (at least one in their senior year) in their high school careers.

The Scholar Athlete Banquet is a wonderful celebration, which invites the honored student athletes along with their parents and school administrators to a delicious meal, followed by a keynote speaker and presentation of the certificates.

This year's speaker was Pewamo-Westphalia High School Principal Mr. Todd Simmons. He commended the student athletes for their hard work in the gym, on the field, track, and course as well as for their accomplishments in the classroom. He recognized and acknowledged them for being the best in the CMAC. The focus of his keynote address was to challenge the student athletes to know their purpose for being and to know their role, whatever it may be.

The athletic director from each school read the names of the scholar athletes and talked about their accomplishments and future goals which included their college plans. As their names were called, the student athletes came to the front where they received a certificate from their superintendent or principal acknowledging their accomplishment and giving them individual recognition of their hard work.

St. Patrick School had 15 scholar athletes recognized at the banquet on Sunday, which represents 75% of the senior class. The students, recognized for both their academic and athletic success were Karlie Bartlett, Greg Doll, Noah Goodman, Hannah Greenwood, Blake Hodge, Sam Hodge, Matt Jandernoa, Sammi Leonard, Abrielle Mason, Jerrid Pline, Kelsey Schneider, Brendan Schrauben, Graham Smith, Brittany Thelen and Blake Wohlschied.

St. Patrick student athletes are also being noticed and recognized at a higher level than in the past. Previously, very few St. Patrick student athletes were recruited or chose to take their athletic skills and abilities to the next level. Now, each year, we have a number of students being recruited and signing National Letters of Intent. Currently, two students from the Class of 2017 have committed to a college athletic team. They are:

• Hannah Greenwood – Volleyball at Aquinas College

• Brendan Schrauben – Baseball at Alma College

St. Patrick School continues to encourage our students to use their gifts pursuing extracurricular activities in both athletics and in other areas. We are excited and proud when our students are recognized for working hard, honoring their commitments, and being successful in the classroom and beyond. It is the final piece of our mission statement: “We Achieve!” Congratulations to our seniors who have achieved both in the classroom and in extracurricular activities. May God continue to bless them in their future endeavors.


NCEA Convention Illumniates Catholic Education

Posted on April 27, 2017 at 7:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Each year during the week following Easter the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) holds its annual convention. The NCEA Convention and Expo is the largest private-education association gathering in the nation. Those participating represent all aspects of Catholic and faith-based education from preschool through the university level. It is attended by principals, pastors, religious sisters and brothers, school board members, and many others involved in Catholic education on some level. The convention is a time to celebrate, to acquire new knowledge, and to renew one’s spirit.

This year’s NCEA convention, which I had the opportunity to attend, was held in St. Louis, Missouri. It was a wonderful learning experience! It was a chance for me to meet colleagues from around the country and to share ideas with people who have schools similar to St. Patrick School. I came home impressed by the wisdom and knowledge that was imparted, and excited by the new ideas that I heard---ideas that will help Catholic schools continue to grow spiritually as well as academically for centuries to come.

It was also a chance to attend professional development sessions on a variety of topics. This year I was blessed to attend the following sessions at the convention:

• Creating an effective advancement office from the ground floor

• Best practices to connect and engage your teachers

• The benefits of millennial teachers in our Catholic schools

• Moving from passive to active learning environments

• UpSTREAM with a paddle: A guide to taking the apprehension away from implementing STREAM into your school curriculum

• Developing a resource department in Catholic schools

• 10 actions Catholic schools are taking now to be flourishing in 2025

• Staying safe with technology

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 forefathers, we are providing our students with the rigorous curriculum they need for succeeding in today’s world. Our classrooms still contain bibles and crucifixes, but they also contain smartboards and computers. Our days still begin with prayer, but they also contain opportunities for online learning and college credit through dual enrollment.

The NCEA Convention reminded me of how large our network is around the world. It was invigorating to attend with educators from all over the country; it was inspiring to see the level of devotion that exists in the Catholic school network. I came away feeling that we are truly one big family looking out for each other and filled with a spirit of brotherly love. And most importantly, that Catholic education is alive and well!

Busy End of School Year Ahead

Posted on April 17, 2017 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)

It's hard to believe that we are in the home stretch of the 2016-17 school year! There are a plethora of activities that are scheduled between now and the rest of the school year and I want to take time to share some of them with you. We would love to have you join us; events that are open to the public are bolded.

• April 23: CMAC Scholar Athlete Banquet – At this event, 14 of our 20 seniors will be acknowledged for having a grade point average (GPA) higher than a 3.40 and lettering in two or more varsity sports.

• April 25: Senior awards banquet - The junior class will host our annual senior awards banquet which honors this year’s graduating class.

• April 29: Prom – The theme for this year’s junior and senior prom is Breakfast at Tiffany's and will take place at the ballroom at McKay Tower in downtown Grand Rapids.

• May 2: May Crowning – At this ceremony we celebrate Mary, the mother of Jesus, at our annual May Crowning ceremony. Please join us at 10:30 a.m. in the church.

• May 7: First Holy Communion – 2nd grade students who participate in the group ceremony will receive their first Holy Communion at 2:00 p.m. Mass in the church.

• May 10: 8th Grade retreat – Our 8th grade students who are preparing for their confirmation in the fall will attend a retreat as one of the final steps in their preparation.

• May 11: Seniors’ last Mass – The seniors will lead Mass for the final time at our 9:30 a.m. school Mass in the church.

• May 12: Spring Carnival, book fair and art show – We will host our annual spring carnival, book fair and art show throughout the school beginning at 6:00 p.m.

• May 16: H.I.T. Awards ceremony – Our 13 Heartlands Institute of Technology students will be acknowledged at their annual awards banquet.

• May 18: Grandparents Day – We will host our annual grandparents day beginning at 1:00 p.m. in the school gym. After hearing songs presented by our elementary students, grandparents will visit classrooms for an ice cream social.

• May 18: Seniors’ last day – The high school students will celebrate the seniors’ last day with a softball tournament.

• May 21: Graduation Mass and commencement - We will celebrate the successful school careers of our 20 seniors at a graduation Mass with Bishop Walkowiak presiding. Please join us at 2:00 p.m. in the church.

• May 29: No School – Memorial Day.

• June 1: Last school Mass of the 2016-17 school year- The third graders will lead Mass for their first time at 9:30 a.m. in the church.

• June 9: Last day of school – The 2016-17 school year will conclude with a half day of school.

There are also many extracurricular athletic activities and field trips scheduled to take place.

Wow! It will be an extremely busy end to the school year at St. Patrick School. Please consult our school calendar for these and any other activities that are taking place around St. Patrick Parish and School at We look forward to having you join us!

Shamrock Auction Aiming for Success

Posted on April 13, 2017 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The Shamrock Auction was started 15 years ago and continues to be one of St. Patrick School's largest fundraisers. All proceeds are split between the Athletic Association and the school general fund. The auction has raised over $835,000 since its inception!

This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, April 22 at the Knights Hall and doors open at 6:00 p.m. Each year, the auction committee chooses a theme for the evening. This year it’s “Prom Night”. The entry fee of $20 for the auction includes a buffet meal and free drinks for the entire evening.

In addition to the live auction, several fun-filled raffles, an on-going 50/50 raffle, and a silent auction, which runs from 6:00-9:30 p.m., will be available. The main event runs from 8:00-11:00 p.m. and auction items include all kinds of donated items, as well as projects that are hand-crafted and donated by each of the classes in the school. You won’t want to miss the friendly competition between classroom parents when they try to outbid each other to take home the project that their child helped create.

Two of the items up for auction every year is a “Wish List” item from both the school and the Athletic Association. The school’s item this year is replacing all computer hardware for the 2017-18 school year. The school will implement a 1:1 program where every high school student will be provided with a Chromebook to use throughout their high school career. To complete this project, we need 80 Chromebooks. We are looking at the N22 Lenovo model which comes with a price tag of $17,760 for all 80 devices and licenses. One of the permanent middle school computer labs will be also be replaced with a portable 30 device Chromebook lab. Devices and licenses will cost $8,760. We would also like to purchase 30 new Chromebox desktops for the elementary lab at $10,865. The total cost to upgrade all school hardware which will provide all students with access to a new device for the 2017-18 school year is $37,385.

The Athletic Association’s wish list item is to purchase new athletic uniforms for our JV volleyball team as well as home and away uniforms for our varsity boys basketball team.

The Shamrock Auction is truly an event that brings our school families, alumni, parishioners and other school supporters together. It requires a lot of hard work and a huge commitment of time from many, many people. But, it pays off greatly---not only in the money that it brings into the school and athletic programs but as a wonderful social event, enjoyed by hundreds. Its success stems from a great volunteer committee and the dedication of parents, family, friends, alumni and merchants!

Grab your gown, tux, tails, corsages and come join us for a night to remember. We hope to see you there!

If you are unable to attend the Shamrock Auction but would still like to make a donation, checks may be sent to St. Patrick School. Please feel free to designate what you would like the money to go specifically towards. On-line giving is available at


Kindergarten Screening is Just Around the Corner

Posted on March 30, 2017 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

It is time to begin preparing for the next school year already, and that means it is time for Kindergarten screening. For many parents, especially those with a child entering school for the first time, this is a time of great excitement, or of great anxiety. We hope you were able to attend our open house that provided a lot of great information; if not, that is okay to. Our experienced staff is prepared to help you through this process.

Kindergarten screening for St. Patrick School will be held on Friday, April 21st. The screening takes from 45 minutes to an hour. Call the school office at (517) 647-7551 to make your appointment.

We use the Gesell Developmental Observation (GDO), which is a standard procedure for observing a child’s growth and development. This assessment is conducted by a trained examiner who makes observations of a child’s behavior and then compares these observations with normative patterns for each developmental age. The GDO does not have right or wrong responses, but instead provides a composite picture of a child’s developmental age, his or her individual rate of growth, and his or her integrity in the total growth process.

The Gesell Institute recommends that every child receive a developmental screening to create a picture of where he or she is at in their unique process of growth and development. Children who attended our developmental kindergarten program for the current school year will not be screened again before entering kindergarten.

If your child is shown to be ready for kindergarten we will place them in kindergarten, unless you request differently. If your child screens for DK, they will be placed in that classroom. We will not advance students to kindergarten if the screening shows they are not ready; we want to place students in a classroom where they will succeed. The GDO has proven to be very accurate over the eight years I have been an administrator at St. Pat’s.

Whether your child is entering kindergarten or another grade at St. Patrick for the first time. The Diocese of Grand Rapids will once again be offering Welcome Scholarships to families who do not already have a student in a diocesan Catholic school. The scholarships are for all new students from preschool through 11th grade. Please visit our school website for complete information about the scholarship criterion, and a printable application.

If you have any further questions in regards to St. Patrick’s DK or kindergarten programs, please call me at (517) 647-7551 or email We welcome you to schedule a visit so you can see our classrooms and meet with your child’s teacher. You will not be the first or only person who has done this.

Kindergarten screening is a time to celebrate the next step of your child’s development. Give us a call and let us help you with that celebration!


New Science Curriculum Promotes Investigative Learning

Posted on March 30, 2017 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

St. Patrick Elementary School is excited to begin to use the Battle Creek science program in the fall of 2017. It was time to change our curriculum after using the same model for many years. After researching a few options, we decided that the Battle Creek curriculum was the best fit to carry out our objectives. Money was given to purchase this program at the Shamrock Auction last April and we purchased the first part of the program this year. A special thanks to all those who donated at the auction; we would not be able to do it without you!

The Battle Creek Area Mathematics and Science Center, a regional educational consortium in the state, has developed a kindergarten through seventh grade inquiry-based science curriculum that is aligned with the Michigan grade level content expectations. The purpose of the program is to provide hands-on science instruction in the classroom with opportunities for students to engage in all four areas of science (physical science, life science, earth science, and inquiry and technology). Inquiry-based instruction focuses on students answering a question through discovering and learning. Teachers may use discussions, experiments, or hands-on activities to lead students on the path to discovery.

The first unit we purchased is physical science. Here is a summary of what the students will be learning next year.

Kindergarten: Students explore the different effects of different strengths and directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of objects. To demonstrate this concept, students will design, analyze, and build a system to get an object from a starting position to a designated end position. The object must change direction and arrive in a specified amount of time.

1st Grade: Students explore the relationship between vibrations and sounds and design instruments or sound makers. They explore light in terms of light traveling in a straight path from one place to another and what happens when different objects are placed in the path of light. They will design different items such as a tree house and emergency warning system to demonstrate the concepts learned.

2nd Grade: Students explore the properties of matter and how different properties make material useful in designing and building items. They will design and build a structure to withstand wind and rain while keeping a figure inside dry.

3rd Grade: Students explore the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of objects. Their exploration includes non-contact forces using magnets and electricity in various projects.

4th Grade: Students explore how energy moves from place to place and is observable through sound, light, heat transfer, motion, and electric currents. Students will design a Rube Goldberg device that makes a sound at its conclusion. This device must include several examples of energy moving from place to place.

5th Grade: Students explore matter in terms of measurable properties. Students will develop an understanding that the number of particles and weight of matter does not change regardless of the changes it goes through. They will develop a model to demonstrate that matter is made up of particles too small to be seen.

We plan on purchasing the next unit, earth science, for the fall of 2018 and then the third and final unit, life science, for the fall of 2019.


Wrapping Up a Successful Winter Sports Season

Posted on March 21, 2017 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

On the evening of Wednesday, March 15, St. Patrick student athletes, their parents, and the winter sports coaching staff gathered at the Knights of Columbus Hall for the annual awards banquet. The purpose was to celebrate a successful winter sports season. This event is graciously hosted by our Athletic Association every year. I personally believe a school’s sports programs and the students involved in those programs should represent the goals and values being taught in the school’s curriculum. With that as the standard, our student athletes accomplished all that could be expected of them and more during the winter sports campaign. They exemplify the third part of our mission statement: We Achieve!


The highlight of the winter sports season was the girls basketball team winning their third consecutive district title. This title is another great honor for legendary girls basketball coach Al Schrauben who notched his 600th career coaching victory this winter. Another was our boys basketball team upsetting a strong Fulton squad in the district quarterfinal. The team from Fulton had advanced to the Breslin Center the two previous years. Both our boys and girls bowling teams had strong seasons and both finished 4th in their regional matches with the top three teams advancing to the state level of competition.


Individual and team accomplishments for the winter sports season include:


• Girl’s Bowling: The team finished second in the league this year. Abby Pearson and Abrielle Mason had strong seasons and finished 14th and 15th respectively in the regional tournament.

• Boy’s Bowling: Senior Matt Jandernoa finished in second place in the regional (he missed first by two pins) and advanced to states. Stephen Wernet finished 12th in the region and missed advancing by nine pins. Senior Adam Brown was presented with the Brandon VanderBroek scholarship which is awarded to the bowler which exemplifies the characteristics displayed by Brandon when he was a bowler in high school.

• Boy’s basketball: Graham Smith was named second team CMAC. Brandon Scheurer, Dan Mackowiak and Brendan Schrauben were honorable mention CMAC.

• Girl’s Basketball: Katie Coyne and Hannah Greenwood were named second team CMAC and Chloe Cross was named honorable mention CMAC.

Most importantly, our student athletes worked hard to maintain their grades and demonstrated good sportsmanship throughout the season. All in all, I am very proud of the way our student athletes represented our school both on and off the court and lanes throughout the season. Their strong work ethic, commitment to success, positive attitude, and teamwork propelled our teams to a successful winter sports season of which they can be very proud. Our student athletes have been exemplary examples of what we expect at St. Patrick School. Congratulations, teams for a job well done!