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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Saying Goodbye to the Class of 2018

Posted on May 22, 2018 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

When I began my tenure as administrator of St. Patrick Catholic School, the students from the Class of 2018 were in third grade. After ten years with them we said goodbye on Sunday, May 20. 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!


It is my belief that the Class of 2018 lives and represents our mission statement in a positive way. They were strong leaders throughout the school year beginning with our annual spirit week celebration, continuing through planning a unique senior trip adventure to Chicago and right up to their last day of school. I am proud to say they leave our school with a rock-solid foundation to continue living our mission statement. They provided sound leadership, served as role models for our younger students, provided many outstanding suggestions for ways to improve our school and were well prepared to be leaders throughout their senior year.


Graduation began with Mass celebrated by our new pastor, Reverend Mike Alber with Deacon Michael Steffes Jr., a graduate of Portland St. Patrick, providing inspiring words for the Class of 2018 during his homily. Michael will become a priest on June 2. After Mass, the graduates and their families moved to the school gymnasium for commencement. Mr. Hodge began by sharing the major achievements of the Class of 2018 which included:


• 14 of the 26 students are members of the National Honor Society.

• 13 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.

• 24 out of the 26 plan to go on to higher education with two working on apprenticeships.

• One has signed a National Letter of Intent to participate in college softball Franciscan University of Steubenville.

• 10 are graduating with honors (3.79 GPA or higher) with seven of those having a weighted 4.0 GPA or higher. 24 have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

• They were offered a total of $270,000 in scholarship money. They have accepted approximately $100,000 of that money from the schools they plan on attending in the fall.


Fr. Mike opened the ceremony with prayer and shared some inspiring words with the graduates. Valedictorian Kylee Schrauben and Salutatorian Tyler Schrauben addressed their classmates, 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 Mr. Hodge. One by one, they turned their tassel and the Class of 2018 joined a group of more than 2,200 living Shamrock alumni around the world.


Fr. Mike closed the ceremony with prayer and they processed out of the gym and into the future. There were hugs to give and pictures to take. Finally, caps were tossed as an official ending to a great school career by a great group of students.


They are leaving us 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.



Mothers Day Tea; Always a Special Day

Posted on May 20, 2018 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)

As we all already know and as the Bible reminds us in Proverbs 31:10 – 30, moms are extremely special! Our St. Patrick School kindergarten students want to ensure their moms know this so every year they host and participate in an extremely special event called the “Mother’s Day Tea.”

Much time, thought, practice and preparation are put in by our kindergarten students each year as they get ready to host the big day. When it finally arrives, they come to school dressed to the nines in their Sunday best.

In the afternoon, the mothers arrive and are escorted to the parish hall which has been decorated with posters made by the students. These posters include a portrait of their mom and a poem they wrote.

One of the kindergarten students opens with a welcome and then I lead everyone in prayer. After prayer, the students read out loud the history of Mother’s Day. Following the history, students present the book Love You Forever by Robert Munsch to their moms and sing the main verse from the book: I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”

Following the reading, students serenade their moms with a few songs. This year’s selections included: “Moms are Made That Way”, “I’ve Got Something Special”, “a Mother’s Day Alphabet” and “If You Love Your Mom.”

Following the songs, the moms and their student get to watch a slideshow which has a picture of each kindergartner with their mom. There is also a slide where every student tells their mom why they’re special to them.

Following all the presentations the moms and their child are able to indulge in special treats, all made by Dad, or at least that’s what is requested. Moms can relax, spend time with their child and have time to socialize with the other class moms before departing for the weekend.

In all, it is such a special day for our kindergarten moms. There is hardly a dry eye as the students present the book and sing their songs. This great, long-time tradition here at St. Patrick School provides our moms and their children with a memory that will last a lifetime.

Thank you to Miss Chamberlain and the Class of 2030 on a marvelous presentation for their mothers. All of us at St. Patrick School hope and pray that all moms had a very special and blessed Mother’s Day!

Important Tuition Information

Posted on May 10, 2018 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (0)

It’s that time of year again when many families are deciding where to enroll their child for next school year. As an excellent option for many families in Portland and the surrounding area I want to take time to explain how tuition is set at St. Patrick and our plan for next year.

Each year our tuition is set based on several factors including making sure that we can balance our budget. The projected actual cost of educating a K – 12 student for the upcoming school year is $5,600. You will notice that number doesn’t match what we actually charge for tuition (listed below). So how does the school afford the difference between the actual cost of educating a student and the amount we charge in tuition? Scholarships.

This money is crucial to our school families who make sacrifices to provide their child with a Christ-centered education. Almost every student in the school receives some sort of scholarship. We are blessed to be part of an alliance of Catholic schools within the Diocese of Grand Rapids which has placed an importance on Catholic school education over the past three years. During those three years, our students were awarded $103,000. This amount covers both the Welcome Scholarship for new families along with needs-based scholarships. Then we receive support from our parish. As a ministry of the Church, we receive 40% of the parish offertory to help cover costs related to the religious education of our students – items like religion class, theology class, textbooks, retreats and other supplies. And then we are blessed with generous donors. Thanks to contributions to the Father Flohe Foundation which gives approximately 4% of the interest to the school each year to be applied to every student’s tuition. This year they are donating $95,000. Within the past five years, the Foundation has generously stepped up their contributions to help make Catholic education affordable. If you would like to help provide a Catholic education for a child, please consider making a gift to either our Tuition Angels program which provides immediate needs-based scholarships for students, the Father Flohe Foundation which provides funding for the future or one can continue to be generous in their contributions to our parish offertory each week.

Below, you will see a column of our tuition rates for students in grades DK – 12 (please note preschool rates are not included due to the fact these students are half day and do not qualify for scholarships other than Welcome Scholarships) for the 2018-2019 school year. This is the amount per child before any scholarships are applied. Children who are enrolling at St. Pats for the first time may be eligible for the diocesan Welcome Scholarship which provides $250 for preschoolers, $500 for K-8, and $1,000 for 9-11th graders. This is in addition to our other diocesan, school and parish scholarships. St. Patrick School also has the “Try Us, You’ll Like Us” scholarship which allows new students in grades 1 – 11 to attend for free for their first marking period (you are required to pay the $50 registration fee).


2018-2019 School Year Tuition Schedule

Grades 9-12:

  • $5,100 1st child
  • $4,140 2nd child
  • $3,130 3rd child
  • $1,915 4th child


  • $4,375 1st child
  • $3,555 2nd child
  • $2,650 3rd child
  • $1,390 4th child

We are committed to making Catholic school education affordable for families in our communities. We work with families one-on-one to ensure that we do everything we can to help them realize their dream of a Christ-centered education for their child. I invite you to join our family and to see why St. Patrick School is so special. Call me to schedule a tour or just drop in; we’d love to have you. You can reach me at 647-7551 or

For more information on our scholarships, to apply and donate, please contact the school office at the number above or visit and click on the ‘prospective families’ link.




529 Plans May Now Be Used for Private School Tuition

Posted on May 2, 2018 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Most people are aware that on January 1, 2018, a new federal tax plan went into effect. One of the provisions of this new tax plan is expanding the use of 529 Plans. Originally, a 529 plan was set up as a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs. They are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions and are authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, hence the name. Under the new tax laws, 529 Plans may now be used as a savings plan for private school tuition in addition to college.

This is exciting news for those interested in sending their child to a private school. But how does a 529 Plan work?

• An account must be established for the benefit of an individual, and contributions may be made starting at birth and continued throughout the beneficiary’s education.

• Contributions may be made to one or more accounts by one or more individuals without income restrictions on contributors or beneficiaries.

• Money inside of the account may generally be invested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETF’s and other investments.

• As it grows, future income and growth inside of the account is not federally taxed.

• Future withdrawals are generally free of federal taxes if they are used for qualified education expenses.

• Up to $10,000 may be withdrawn annually for elementary or secondary education expenses.

Exactly what can these accounts be used for?

• If they are used for qualified education expenses, distributions from the account are federally tax-free.

• Qualified education expenses include things like tuition, books, supplies, tutoring, transportation, computers and certain other costs.

• Qualified education expenses can occur at the elementary, secondary or college level.

St. Patrick School would like to make sure our school families, as well as other families in our area are able to obtain further information about 529 Plans. Therefore, we will be hosting a presentation with a representative from Michigan’s 529 plan in our Parish Hall on Tuesday, May 8 at 6:00 p.m.

This presentation is open to the public and will provide information to those interested in using a 529 Plan to help pay for their children’s Catholic School education as well as for those who are interested in saving for college.

Please keep in mind that anyone can contribute to a 529 Plan. It doesn’t matter if you are a parent, grandparent, godparent, aunt or uncle. Anyone interested in helping to provide for a child’s education may contribute.

We hope to see you at the St. Patrick Parish Hall located at 122 N. West Street in Portland on Tuesday, May 8 beginning at 6:00 p.m. to join the discussion on 529 Plans and how you can make them best work for your family.



St. Patrick Seniors Recognized for Hard Work on and Off the Playing Field

Posted on April 26, 2018 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)

On Sunday, April 22, 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 have 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.

This year's speaker was Hope College basketball coach Greg Mitchell. Coach Mitchell started his coaching career at Laingsburg High School. His keynote address challenged the student athletes to always be prepared, to stick to their roots and always know that one can reach higher.

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 13 scholar athletes recognized at the banquet, which represents 52% of the senior class. The students, recognized for both their academic and athletic success, were Lauren Bengel, Katie Coyne, Chloe Cross, Emma Gunderman, Abby Pearson, Colin Pline, Alaina Schrauben, Amelia Schrauben, Tyler Schrauben, Mallory Scheurer, Kayla Shaw, lsaiah Smith and Maddyson Smith.

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 Illuminates Catholic Education

Posted on April 20, 2018 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Each year during the week following Easter the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) holds its annual convention. The 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. The convention is the perfect setting for learning, networking and sharing best practices as well as a time to celebrate and renew one’s spirit.

This year’s NCEA convention was held in Cincinnati, Ohio which I had the opportunity to attend. It was a wonderful learning experience! It was a chance for me to meet colleagues from around the world including educators from France, Canada and Mexico as well as around the country and to share ideas. 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 years 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:

• The Role of Evangelization in Marketing

• Going, Going, Gone…the Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics

• Mission Driven Advancement

• Campus Ministry Best Practice

• Leading the Energized Catholic School

• Improving Student Learning Outcomes Through Gamification

• Ready! Set! Go! 7 Practical Processes/Exercises to Improve Your Development/Advancement/Marketing Efforts

• 30 Alternative Revenue Streams

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 love. And most importantly, that Catholic education is alive and well!


Join Us for Kindergarten Screening

Posted on April 11, 2018 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (0)

It is time to begin preparing for 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, and potentially great anxiety. We hope you were able to attend our open house that provided a lot of great information; if not, that is okay too. Our experienced staff is prepared to help you through this process. Kindergarten screening for St. Patrick School will be held on Friday, April 20. 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 class. We will not advance students to kindergarten if the screening shows they are not ready; we want to place students in a class where they will succeed. The GDO has proven to be very accurate over the ten years I have been an administrator at St. Pat’s.

The Diocese of Grand Rapids will once again be offering Welcome Scholarships to families who do not already have a student in a 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 further questions in regard 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!


Winter Sports Athletes Honored at Banquet

Posted on April 4, 2018 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

On Tuesday, March 20, St. Patrick student athletes, their parents, and the winter sports coaching staff gathered at the Knights 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 season. 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 fourth consecutive district title and our boys bowling team winning their first-ever regional title.

Individual and team accomplishments for the winter season include:

The girls bowling team finishing 6th in the regional tournament. Individual honors include:

• Kayla Shaw finished 20th in the state tournament. She was also named 1st team All-County.

• Kara Shaw was honorable mention All-County

• Abby Pearson was named as the Brandon VanderBroek scholarship recipient which is awarded to the bowler which exemplifies the characteristics displayed by Brandon when he was a bowler in high school.

The boys bowling team finished second in the league and won their first-ever regional trophy. Individual awards include:

• Stephen Wernet advanced to states where he finished 17th. He was named 1st team All-County

• Jake Pung was named 2nd team All-County

The varsity boys basketball team finished with a 7 – 14 season despite losing senior Danny Mackowiak due to a broken wrist before the season started. Individual awards include:

• Brandon Scheurer was 1st team CMAC and was named the Co-Player of the Year in Ionia County

• Nathaniel Leahy was named 2nd team CMAC and 1st team All-County

• William Simon was honorable mention CMAC and All-County

The girls basketball team finished 3rd in a tough CMAC and won their 4th consecutive district title. They lost in the regionals to the eventual state champions. Individual honors include:


• Katie Coyne was named honorable mention All-State, 1st team All-County and second team CMAC

• Kylee Schrauben was named 2nd team All-County and honorable mention CMAC

• Chloe Cross, Lainey Schrauben and Mallory Scheurer were 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!


Shamrock Auction Aiming for Success

Posted on March 30, 2018 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (0)

The Shamrock Auction started 16 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. Since its inception, the auction has raised over $900,000!

This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, April 21 at the Knights of Columbus Hall and doors open at 6 p.m. This year’s theme is “Shamrock Olympics.” The entry fee of $20 includes a buffet meal and free drinks for the entire evening. Tickets may be purchased from any auction committee member.

In addition to the live auction, several fun-filled raffles, an on-going 50/50 raffle, and a silent auction, which runs from 6-9:30 p.m., will be available. The main event runs from 8-11 p.m. This year, 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 are “wish list” items from both the school and the Athletic Association. The school’s item this year is to implement a 1:1 Chromebook program for our middle school students. After the successful implementation of a 1:1 Chromebook program for our high school students this past year, we are looking to expand it to our middle school students for the 2018-19 school year. To complete this project, we need 55 Chromebooks. We are looking at an $11,000 price tag for the devices and licenses. Any money raised above and beyond that goal will be used towards purchasing Chromebooks for our incoming freshmen class.

The Athletic Association’s wish list item is new uniforms for our baseball and softball teams.

The Shamrock Auction is an event that truly 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!

If you would like to donate an item to be auctioned or to make a cash donation, you may drop either item off at the school office during regular office hours. If you are unable to attend the Shamrock Auction but would still like to donate, checks may be sent to St. Patrick School. Please feel free to designate what you would like the money to go specifically toward. Online giving is available at

In the meantime, remember to mark your calendars for April 21 and plan on a great evening of entertainment, socializing, and fun! We hope to see you at there!


End of Year Will Be Busy

Posted on March 22, 2018 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)

It's hard to believe that on Friday, March 23, we have reached the conclusion of the third marking period of the 2017-18 school year. At the end of the school day on Thursday, March 29, our students will begin their week-long Easter break. When we return on Monday, April 9, it will begin a very busy time for St. Patrick School students and their families. There is a plethora of activities scheduled between now and the rest of the school year and we want to take time to share some of them with you. We would love to have you join us when possible.


• April 21: We host our annual Shamrock Auction fundraiser at the Knights of Columbus Hall. The doors open at 6 p.m. The silent auction runs from 6-9:30 p.m. and the live auction runs from 8-11 p.m. Money raised at this event are split between the school’s general fund and the athletic budget.


• April 22: CMAC Scholar Athlete Banquet – At this event, seniors who have achieved a grade point average (GPA) higher than a 3.40 and lettered in two or more varsity sports will be acknowledged with all the other league student athletes who achieved at this level.


• April 24: Senior awards banquet - The junior class will host our annual senior awards banquet which honors this year’s graduating class.

• April 28: Prom – The junior and senior prom will take place at the Watermark Country Club in Grand Rapids.


• May 6: First Holy Communion – 2nd grade students who participate in the group ceremony will receive their First Holy Communion at a 2 p.m. Mass.


• May 11: 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 p.m.


• May 14: Grandparents Day – We will host our annual grandparent’s day beginning at 1 p.m. in the school gym. After hearing songs by our elementary students, grandparents will visit classrooms for a treat.


• May 15: H.I.T. Awards ceremony – Our eight Heartlands Institute of Technology students will be acknowledged at their annual awards banquet.


• May 17: Seniors’ last Mass – The seniors will lead Mass for the final time at our 9:30 a.m. school Mass in the church. This will also be their last day of school.


• May 20: Graduation Mass and commencement - We will celebrate the successful school careers of our 26 seniors at a 2 p.m. graduation Mass with Bishop Walkowiak presiding. Commencement will follow in the school gymnasium.


• May 28: No School – Memorial Day.


• June 6: Last day of school – The 2017-18 school year will conclude with a half day of school.


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!



Lifting our voices in song

Posted on March 13, 2018 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Each March, the Diocese of Grand Rapids hosts an annual event called Songfest. All the fourth-grade students in the diocese are invited to West Catholic High School in Grand Rapids for a fun and exciting day.

This year, more than 300 students from 19 schools across the diocese participated in the 22nd annual Songfest. The day starts with the students gathering at West Catholic for rehearsal. Deacon Dennis Rybicki, director of liturgical music for the diocese, directs the program. He begins the day going through and explaining the music and has students practice all the songs they will be performing that evening. The students have all been practicing in their music classes before the big day. He is assisted throughout the program by Mr. Kevin Varner, principal of Our Lady of Consolation School in Rockford, and Ms. Cindy Thomas, principal of St. Stephen School in East Grand Rapids, as moderators.

Each fall, the 4th grade students are assigned a pen pal from another school from within the diocese. They write letters back and forth throughout the fall and winter. Then following morning rehearsal, they get to meet each other during lunch.

After lunch, it is back for dress rehearsal. Deacon Dennis leads them through the program one more time trying to emulate their performance as close as it will possibly be for the evening performance.

After dress rehearsal, each school has open time to explore before the evening begins. For St. Patrick School, we visit Frederick Meijer Gardens. This time of year is perfect because we can check out the butterfly exhibit along with walking around to look at the various works of art in their gallery and on the campus.

After visiting Frederick Meijer Gardens, we head to Applebees for dinner and time to relax. Following dinner, it’s back to West Catholic for the show.

The evening program begins with a welcome and prayer from our diocesan Superintendent Mr. David Faber. Fourth-grade students lead the singing of our national anthem. It’s then followed by songs including but not limited to Blessed Are They, the Fifty Nifty United States and Go Light Your World. It is always a student and crowd favorite when the students “make it rain.”

Our students are excited about this opportunity to participate in Songfest. It provides for a memorable day and it also gives them an opportunity to see they are part of something bigger and more than just our school here in Portland. It’s an experience they share with their classmates making memories that will last a lifetime.


Making a difference for children

Posted on February 23, 2018 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

This column was submitted by Annalise Laumeyer, vice chair of the St. Patrick School Board.

Most of us search for ways to give back to the communities we live, work and play in, those we have a connection to. For the school board members of St. Patrick, our reason isn’t any different from another volunteer activity we could spend our time participating in. Just like those who feed the hungry, sort clothes for the needy, or volunteer at a local organization, we feel a connection to help. All of us have a connection to the school in some way, we’re an alumnus, a parent, a grandparent, a parishioner, or a community member who has a vested interest in local education.

Through our volunteer efforts we aim to provide a better future for the next generation of Catholic school children. As a Board of Limited Jurisdiction, we work closely with the administration and assist in the governance of the school. As defined by the diocesan manual, “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 committees we serve on and the work we do directly correlates with the skills and talents we have. There are seven different subcommittees which means there is a spot for you. Our hope is that you will join us in our mission to form the next generation of leaders for our Church, community, and the world.

The current members of the board are: Keelie Honsowitz, chair of the board and the Executive Committee; myself serving as vice chair of the board and co-chair of the Marketing and Public Relations Committee; Nancy Wohlschied, recording secretary; Shayla Schneider and Lisa Bartlett who serve as Policy Committee co-chairs; Jennifer Davlin and Brandi Bengel who serve as co-chairs of the Mission Effectiveness Committee; Sue Van Lente, co-chair of the Marketing and Public Relations Committee; Dr. Bruce Beachnau who serves as the Finance Committee chair and is a member of the parish finance council to ensure our financial goals align with that of the parish; Mark Thelen, chair of the Technology Committee; Marc Nichols and Teresa Schneider, co-chairs of the Strategic Planning Committee; and Melissa Schrauben and Michael Wolfston who co-chair our Development Committee.

We meet about every six weeks as a board of the whole and subcommittees set their own schedules for meeting and accomplishing their tasks.

The meeting dates for the remainder of the school year are:

• February 22, 2018

• April 12, 2018

• May 31, 2018

Thank you to my fellow board members for your service; I look forward to continuing to work with you. We’re currently accepting nominations for next year’s school board and I guarantee there’s a spot for you. You can submit your name or the name of someone you know at

Additional information about the school board, including meeting minutes, can be found under the Administration icon on our school website

St. Patrick Catholic School Prepares for Lent

Posted on February 14, 2018 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Lent, from the Middle English word Lentum, meaning springtime, is a period of 40 days of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving before Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday when the Sacred Triduum begins.

Lent offers us all a special opportunity to grow in our relationship with God and to deepen our commitment to a way of life, rooted in our baptism. It is an opportunity to reflect on our lives, pray more deeply, repent of the wrongs we have committed or in what we have failed to do, and to be charitable to those in need.

All of us at St. Patrick School have begun to spend time preparing for Lent. Students and staff attended Ash Wednesday Mass on February 14. The distribution of ashes reminds us of our own mortality and calls us to repentance. In the early Church, Ash Wednesday was the day on which those who had sinned and wished to be readmitted to the Church would begin their public penance. The ashes that we receive are a reminder of our own sinfulness and many Catholics leave them on their foreheads all day as a sign of humility. Some other activities that our students will be involved with during Lent are:

• Stations of the Cross: Each Friday during Lent, students will come together and pray the Stations of the Cross. The Stations of the Cross are a Catholic devotion which commemorates the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Each of the fourteen traditional stations represents an event which occurred during Jesus' passion and death at Calvary on Good Friday. Stations of the Cross are open to the public. Please consult the parish calendar for times of St. Patrick School Stations of the Cross.

• Operation Rice Bowl: Middle school students put the Rice Bowls together and studied some of the areas around the world discussing how this program will help those in need. On Holy Thursday, the staff will serve our students lunch. The students will donate what they would have spent on lunch that day to the Rice Bowl. You can learn more about the Rice Bowl campaign here:

• Hard as Nails Ministry will host a You’re Amazing assembly for students in all grades on March 9.

• Preschool students will be talking about and reading age appropriate books about Lent and Easter. Each day they will have a Lenten activity. They will collect coins throughout the Lenten season and the money will be donated to the Rice Bowl campaign.

• Students individually commit to fasting or performing Christian service.

Lent is a time for all of us to focus on repenting from our sins and consecrating ourselves to God, not on trying to earn God's favor or increase his love for us. It is our goal that all our student body and faculty be prepared for the resurrection of our Lord on Easter.

Join us to explore our early education programs

Posted on February 6, 2018 at 10:55 PM Comments comments (0)

The education of a child during their developmental years is crucial to their lifelong success. Therefore, it is never too early to begin thinking about your child’s education. St. Patrick School has programs for students beginning at three years of age.

The focus of preschool education is socialization skills. Students learn how to follow rules, play with and be respectful of others including how to share or take turns, converse, problem solve, explore, experiment, and develop their fine motor skills. They learn to do things for themselves and this helps them to build confidence. Finally, they focus on discovering God’s world, developing friendships, and discovering a lifelong love of learning.

Our preschool staff of Mrs. Stacy Russman and Mr. Aaron Thelen have more than two decades of classroom experience and are passionate about preparing our youngest students for the journey of life.

Our developmental kindergarten program acts as a bridge between preschool and kindergarten for those students who aren’t quite ready. This may include students who may not meet the age requirement, or they just may need a little more time to mature socially, emotionally, academically or physically before they enter kindergarten. Mrs. Amy Weems, our developmental kindergarten teacher, has almost 20 years of classroom experience.


Kindergarten students are expected to learn much more than their parents and grandparents did in kindergarten. While the curriculum is rigorous, our teacher, Miss Melissa Chamberlain makes it fun and engaging so the students enjoy learning. Students will learn letter sounds, how to put words together, rhyming, sentence building, number sense, patterns, shapes and so many other important skills. They paint, use crayons, markers, and pencils to strengthen their fine motor skills. Students also have access to touch screen chrome books in our computer lab and a Smartboard in their classroom.


Both our DK and kindergarten programs have a full range of specials that include Spanish, art, music, library, physical education and computers.


We encourage you to learn more about our early education programs and scholarships by attending our open house on Thursday, February 15, beginning in our Parish Hall at 6:30 p.m. The open house will include information about each program and will provide an opportunity to visit the classrooms for our early education programs. Welcome Scholarships will be available for new families from the Diocese of Grand Rapids again next year. $250 will be available for preschoolers, $750 for K-8, and $1,000 for 9-11.


If you have further questions regarding St. Patrick’s preschool, DK or kindergarten programs, please contact me at or by calling the school at (517) 647-7551. I hope to see you at the open house on Thursday, February 15 at 6:30 p.m. 

The Pro-Life Generation

Posted on January 29, 2018 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)

This week’s column is being submitted by junior Summer Russman who attended the March for life in Washington D.C. on Friday, January 19 with 30 other St. Patrick High School students.

The March for Life has always inspired me. Every year, I have always wanted to be a part of it, but have had other obligations. This year, when I heard that all sports and school activities were cleared, I jumped at the opportunity to go. I expected the March to be a great experience, but I never expected that it would have such a profound impact on my life. It is difficult to put into words as to how great my experience was.

Our trip began on Thursday with an early morning on the road. After a long bus ride, filled with singing, movies, and stories, we arrived in Washington D.C. After freshening up, we attended a rally at George Mason University. It was a beautiful experience that I will never forget. At the rally, we listened to very powerful speakers, sang of God’s glory, and experienced our Lord in adoration. These things set the mood for the morning to come.

We began the next day by sightseeing. We had the privilege to visit some of the most famous monuments in the United States. About an hour before the March, we attended another rally. This rally was especially inspiring because it consisted of many testimonies from mothers who had experienced the effects of abortion first hand. There were also many politicians who showed up to offer their support for the pro-life movement. It was comforting to know that there are many elected officials working for the rights of the unborn.

When the March began, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people there. It was beautiful to see so many people give up their time for a cause that they believe so strongly in. Just being with all those people gave me hope for the future. The theme for the March this year was, “Love Saves Lives.” While I was marching, I began to meditate on the ways that this phrase embodies the pro-life movement. I came to the conclusion that the only way that we can win the battle against abortion, is through love. The March for Life is rooted in love. We do not march with hateful hearts, but march with loving hearts, full of hope for the future.

When the March was over, we spent some time at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. We attended Mass, and offered up our prayers for the unborn. The next day, it was time for us to return home. Although I was not ready to leave Washington D.C., I was excited to come home and share all that I had experienced with others. I was deeply moved and ready to expand the pro-life movement. I am eternally grateful for the experience and am looking forward to going again next year.