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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Keeping Our Students Safe

Posted on August 28, 2018 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (0)

St. Patrick Parish and School has been very forward looking in keeping all our children safe. For almost two decades, our parish has had programs and safeguards in place to ensure the safety of the children in our care. These programs are run by a safe environment coordinator.

Any staff member who is hired at St. Patrick School must do the following:

• They must attend a Protecting God’s Children (Virtus) session. If they are an educator, they are emailed a monthly lesson that must be read to keep their certification up to date following their training session.

• All school staff must be fingerprinted under the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center or the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) and have a criminal background check completed.

• Any time students are transported off campus, there must at be at least two adults present with students at all times.

• Staff members (including coaching staff) are not permitted to have overnight gatherings at their homes.

Anyone who volunteers and will be around children, including chaperones for field trips, must do the following:

• They must attend a Protecting God’s Children (Virtus) session.

• They must have a criminal background check completed. The background check is done every five years.

All employees and volunteers are provided with a document they must sign titled Standards of Ministerial Behavior in Dealing with Children and Young People. This form lays out the guidelines for providing a structure which seeks to protect children and youth from neglect and sexual abuse.

We also have an age-appropriate program for our students called “Teaching Touching Safety.” Students participate in two lessons each year that teach them how to recognize safe and appropriate touching. As a part of these lessons, they are taught how to report any activity they deem inappropriate. These lessons empower our children to look out for each other.

All staff members at St. Patrick School are mandated reporters meaning if they suspect or are aware of any inappropriate and/or any illegal activity taking place, they must report it immediately to either the correct authorities or to their superior. If it is reported to their superior, the superior must report it immediately to either Child Protective Services and/or law enforcement depending on the suspected abuse.

Beginning even with our youngest students, our preschoolers, we always have two staff members present. One of the requirements of our preschool students is that they are potty trained as staff are not permitted to assist them in using the restroom and may only do so in emergency situations.

We have been using our Parish Hall as temporary staff restrooms during the school day. Plans are being made to install staff-only restrooms in several locations (for those willing to donate money to this major undertaking, please contact Mr. Hodge at the school or parish business manager Mike Johnson).

Most of our records and procedures are subject to audits by state law enforcement. The Michigan State Police have audited our fingerprinting records and bus driver records within the past five years and may do so at any time. LARA requires that our preschool and before- and after-school programs be inspected during license renewal every two years. Our Protecting God’s Children program is also audited by the Diocese of Grand Rapids, which has happened recently. These audits ensure that the school and parish are safe places for children and that best practices are being followed.

We will continue to look out for the health, safety and well-being of all our students here at St. Patrick Parish and School. However, it is important to remember that this is a community effort. It is up to all of us to keep all children safe in our community.

Growing as Witnesses of Jesus

Posted on August 28, 2018 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)

As a Catholic school, the most important piece of our mission is “We Pray!” It speaks to our Catholic faith and the faith life of our students as well as our entire school community. There are many new courses and initiative in the works here at St. Patrick regarding our theology curriculum and campus ministry programs.

We have hired Mr. Dan Rockey as our high school theology teacher. We will continue to use the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) curriculum that Catholic high schools across the nation use. The focus for our high school theology classes in order of semesters throughout their high school career include:

• Course I – How Do We Know About God

• Course II – Who is Jesus Christ

• Course III – The Mission of Jesus Christ

• Course IV – Jesus Christ’s Mission Continues in the Church

• Course V – Sacraments as Privileged Encounters with Jesus Christ

• Course VI – Life in Jesus Christ

The first six courses are mandatory in this order and throughout the first six semesters of a student’s high school career in Catholic school. During a student’s senior year, there are several electives to choose from. Most Reverend David Walkowiak, bishop of Grand Rapids, has selected these electives for our diocesan high schools. They are:

• Course VII – History of the Catholic Church

• Course VIII – Living as a Disciple of Jesus Christ in Society

The high school will use the Didache (DID-uh-kay) series of textbooks. Each textbook has been found to be in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the USCCB curriculum. The Didache Series presents the life and doctrine of the Catholic Church in the context of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and draws from Sacred Scripture, the lives of saints, and the doctors and fathers of the Church.

Along with the Didache textbook series, high school students will read and focus on one of the Gospels throughout each year of high school. They also will have faith-based books they will read each semester throughout their high school careers.

We are also adjusting our campus ministry structure. Mr. George Rutherford will oversee and coordinate all campus ministry activities. By attending St. Patrick High School, all students will be members of our high school campus ministry program. The whole student body is being challenged to submit ideas, and plan, lead and participate in these activities so they are offered an opportunity to encounter Christ.

Mr. Paul Osbourne will teach our seventh and eighth grade religion classes. Students in grades K – 8 will use the Sophia Institute textbook series titled “Spirit of Truth.” This series is beneficial and unique for several reasons:

• It keeps students engaged with lesson plans which include sacred art reflections, stories of the saints, games, roleplays, and critical thinking questions.

• Delivers a meaningful encounter with our Faith by covering the breadth of the entire Catechism and is designed to connect with students of diverse backgrounds and differing familiarity with the Catholic faith.

• Emphasizes the importance of our students' personal spiritual journeys.

• It provides our staff with ongoing support throughout the school year.

We are very excited about the changes to our school’s theology program and look forward to giving students the best possible education in their faith. We will continue to challenge all our students to not only be knowledgeable in their faith but to be living witnesses as disciples of Jesus Christ as they strive to endeavor to become saints.


St. Patrick School Ready to Kick Off the School Year

Posted on August 15, 2018 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)

A lot of hard work and preparation has been put in this summer by the school administrative, teaching, maintenance and custodial staffs. Now we are on the cusp of the first day of school and it is time to welcome back our school families at our back to school open house.

Our open house is scheduled from 5:30 – 7 p.m. on Monday, August 20. We will not have a general gathering this year. Instead, our students along with their family members may stop by any time from 5:30 – 7, visit their classroom, drop off supplies and speak with their teachers. Students in grades 6 – 12 will receive their schedules and may visit all their classrooms and meet their teachers. Secondary students will receive their locker combinations, so they may leave their supplies in their lockers.

The PTO will be serving cupcakes and beverages at the open house. There will be tables set up by our Athletic Association to sell sports passes for those who are interested. We also will have a representative from the Portland Federal Credit Union and Portland Food Services for anyone who needs more information from these groups.

We have a few staffing changes for the upcoming school year. Mrs. Stacy Russman is moving from preschool to kindergarten, where we will have two classes. Mr. Aaron Thelen will take over as the lead teacher for our preschool program. Mrs. Carol Kahn will be the preschool aide on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We are still in the process of hiring an aide for our Monday, Wednesday and Friday classes. If you know of someone who would make a good fit, please call me at 647-7551.

Mrs. Laura Huggler will teach Latin for our freshmen students. Mr. Dan Rockey has been hired as our high school theology teacher. Mr. Nicolas Weber, a student teacher from Germany, will be working with Mr. Holman teaching high school English and German. We are still in the process of filling our middle school science teaching position.

If you are unable to attend the open house, the first day of school for students in grades DK – 12 is Tuesday, August 21. Students in grades 6 – 12 need to report to their first hour classroom by 7:30 a.m. School dismisses at 2:20 each day.

Students in grades DK – 5 need to be dropped off in the parking lot by 8:35 a.m. Teachers will pick up their students at the main entrance to the school at that time. Elementary school starts at 8:40 a.m. this year which is five minutes earlier than last year. The elementary dismissal time has also been moved up five minutes and will dismiss at 3:45 p.m. Preschool starts the week after Labor Day.

We are excited and ready to go for the 2018-19 school year and look forward to seeing you at our annual back to school open house on Monday, August 20 from 5:30 – 7 p.m.



Big Rocks/Little Rocks Program Continues for 2018-19 School Year

Posted on August 9, 2018 at 6:05 AM Comments comments (0)

One of the traditions that students, parents and grandparents all appreciate about St. Patrick School is the Big Rocks/Little Rocks program. The program was established years ago with one focus in mind, Big Rocks, students in grades 6-12, would be partnered with a Little Rock, a student in grades DK-5, as a mentor. This program will continue at St. Patrick School this year.

One of the major components of the Big Rocks/Little Rocks program was that in the past, we had one school Mass for all students in grades K-12 which allowed Big Rocks to meet their Little Rocks at their classroom and escort them to church where they sat together. The Big Rocks were able to mentor their Little Rocks during this time. One of the changes we will have this year is a separate Mass for students in high school (Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m.) and Mass for students in K-8 (Thursdays at 9:30 a.m.) The reason for the change is so Fr. Mike has the opportunity to address the high school students with a message for our older students on Wednesday and a more age-appropriate message for our younger students on Thursday.

Fortunately, this does not mean the end of the Big Rocks/Little Rocks program. There will still be a number of all school Masses spread throughout the school year including the first day of school, spirit week and Catholic Schools Week.

Another major component of the Big Rocks/Little Rocks program was serving together. In the past, there was a monthly service project where the older students worked with the younger students. This has included Macy’s Letters to Santa, our Christmas Shoebox program, making cards for veterans in November, and cards for those on our prayer list at Christmas.

We have also encouraged the leaders of our high school, the Class of 2019, to help come up with new ideas as to how we can continue to transform this program since there is not the weekly opportunity for Big Rocks to meet and see Little Rocks on Mass day each week. As they have shown from past experiences, we know they will have several new ideas of how older students will be able to continue to work with younger students.

While it may have a new look this school year we plan on continuing this wonderful mentoring that benefits all students, from our youngest to our seniors. St. Patrick School is a family and this program is one way that we strengthen that bond between the grades. We are looking forward to a fun and exciting 2018-19 school year!


Questions? Ideas? Schedule a Meeting with the Principal

Posted on July 30, 2018 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

As preparations are being made for the 2018-19 school year, I would like to share with the community our administrative structure. I will be serving as the sole school administrator while our new pastor, Fr. Mike Alber will serve as the canonical administrator for our school. We will work in conjunction with our school board chaired by Annalise Laumeyer and Melissa Schrauben serving as the vice chair.

Throughout my past 10 years as school administrator at St. Patrick, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many parents to discuss concerns, answer questions and provide information. These meetings have been very valuable experiences where often both the parents and I walk away having learned something new. I’ve had many parents say that through these meetings, they have appreciated the opportunity to provide new ideas or insights, have been able to learn more about the programs we offer and have received feedback about different areas they were wondering about.

Meeting people is one of the most enjoyable responsibilities that comes with being a school administrator. To facilitate these discussions, I would like to offer the opportunity to meet with the community. I will be offering half-hour time increments as my schedule allows.

The following dates and times are available to meet before the start of the school year:

• Wednesday, August 8: 9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

• Thursday, August 16: 9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

• Friday, August 17: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

• Monday, August 20: 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

I am not planning anything formal during this time. Each session will be a casual meeting and I will let the meeting be guided by whomever requests the meeting. The idea is for our stakeholders to do any of the following:

• Offer suggestions or new ideas about anything you feel will make St. Patrick School a better place

• Ask questions about anything

• Address any concerns you may have

We wanted to provide another opportunity to learn about current events at St. Patrick School or offer suggestions for improvement. A meeting may be scheduled by emailing me at or by calling the school at 647-7551. I look forward to meeting and listening to you.


What's New for 2018-19?

Posted on July 28, 2018 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

As we gear up for another successful school year, many individuals have asked me what’s new for the upcoming school year at St. Patrick School. So, what will be new when we kick off the new school year on August 21?

STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math initiatives continue to grow around the country and the world. We want our students to be ready and prepared to enter the next level after graduation whether it is entering the workforce, attending college or working in a trade. Therefore, we will have a STEAM specials class two days a week taught by Mrs. Fleischer for students in grades 2-5 and our middle school math and science teachers will team teach an 8th grade STEAM elective course. We are very excited about this new initiative. If you are willing to donate time, money or expertise to this program we would be excited for new ideas and for individuals to share their knowledge and experience.

Technology: Specialized Computer Solutions, Inc. out of Grand Rapids will take over as our information technology provider. They will assist us as we continue to grow our 1:1 Chromebook initiative. We will continue with our 1:1 high school program and are looking to add our middle school. The goal is to purchase new Chromebooks for the classes of 2022 and 2023 with the generous donations we received at this year’s Shamrock Auction.

Dual enrollment opportunities: We are again looking forward to partnering with Aquinas College in Grand Rapids to provide college courses on our high school campus. Along with the two courses they offered last school year (Introduction to Public Speaking and Introduction to Communication), they will be adding an Introduction to Psychology course and a sociology course titled Cultural Anthropology. These courses are open to the public if you wish to enroll and you are not a St. Patrick student.

World Languages: In an effort to give our students more options in world languages, we have made several changes. We will offer German and Latin and our students will have the opportunity to take Spanish, American Sign Language, Chinese and French through Michigan Virtual High School. We are trying this for one year and will make a full evaluation of our world language program at the end of the school year.

New Staff: Our Catholic faith is the focus of what we do at St. Patrick School, therefore the decision was made to hire a new theology teacher. This individual will not only be responsible for teaching all four years of high school theology but will also oversee the curriculum for grades DK-8. We will also be hiring a new middle school science teacher and are looking for a part-time counselor. Applications are currently being sought after for both the middle school science teacher and counselor position.

The leadership and staff are excited and getting ready for an outstanding 2018-19 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. Tuition assistance including Welcome Scholarships, our Shamrock Commitment high school program, and our “Try Us! You’ll Like Us!” guarantee are available to new families.



2018 Spring Sports Wrap Up

Posted on June 19, 2018 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

The 2018 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. There were many outstanding individual and team performances and we would like to thank and congratulate our spring sport athletes on another outstanding season.

The varsity baseball team had a solid season this year going 20-8 and losing to a very tough Fowler team in the District tournament. They also received an invitation to the Lansing Area Diamond Classic and won the Kris Popp Memorial Tournament. Individual honors for our baseball team include:

• Brandon Scheurer: 1st team CMAC, All District, All Region, Academic All District and Academic All State

• Dan Mackowiak: 1st team CMAC, All District

• Devin Fedewa: 2nd team CMAC, All District

• Nathan Lehnert: 2nd team CMAC, All District

• Sam Mauren: 2nd team CMAC

• William Simon: Honorable Mention CMAC and has been invited to walk on at Grand Rapids Community College

• Tyler Schrauben: Academic All State

The varsity softball team showed much improvement during the season and finished in third place in the CMAC with a 10-6 record. Individual awards include:

• Chloe Cross: 1st team CMAC, All District and has signed a letter of intent to play softball at Franciscan University

• Katie Coyne: 1st team CMAC, All District

• Alaina Schrauben: 2nd team CMAC, All District

• Samantha Teachworth: 2nd team CMAC, All District

• Summer Russman: Honorable Mention CMAC, All District

• Ally Florian: Honorable Mention CMAC

The boys golf program continues to grow and finished in 6th place in the CMAC. Junior Stephen Wernet was Honorable Mention CMAC.

The boys track team had a solid season taking second place at the Webberville Invitational despite only having seven athletes on the team. Individual honors include:

• Paul Cook: CMAC Honorable Mention & All-Region (110 hurdles and 300 hurdles); All-Region (4x400); Honor Roll Meet Qualifier (300 hurdles); school record holder (110 hurdles)

• Ned Smith: All-Region (100, 200, 400 and 4x400)

• John Schneider: All-Region (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and 4x400)

• Tyler Coyne: All-Region (4x400)

The girls track team continues to grow and took 4th place in an extremely competitive CMAC. They finished in 2nd place at the Webberville Invitational. Individual honors include:

• Annie Gunderman: 1st team CMAC, School Record , All-Region, Academic Honor Roll, Honor Roll Meet Champion, All-State & Academic All-State (400); 2nd team CMAC, Academic Honor Roll, Honor Roll Meet Qualifier, All-Region & State Qualifier (200); Honorable Mention CMAC & All-Region (4x200 & 4x400); Academic Honor Roll (4x400)

• Leah Cook: 1st team CMAC (long jump); Academic Honor Roll & Honor Roll Meet Medalist (400); Honorable Mention CMAC & All-Region (400, 4x200 & 4x400); Academic Honor Roll (4x400)

• Emma Gunderman: Honorable Mention CMAC & All-Region (4x200 & 4x400); All-Region (4x100); Academic Honor Roll (4x400)

• Jenna Pung: CMAC Honorable Mention & All-Region (4x200); All-Region (4x100)

• Grace Timmer: CMAC Honorable Mention, All-Region & Academic Honor Roll (4x400); All-Region (4x100)

• Olivia Fogarty: All-Region (4x100)

• Cordelia FoxElster, Amelia Schrauben, Leah Kissane and Veronica White: All-Region (4x800)

Together, the girls and boys teams broke two school records and earned 123 medals.

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.


Another Successful Year Comes to an End!

Posted on June 12, 2018 at 3:45 PM 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.

On behalf of our pastor, Reverend Mike Alber, Pastoral Associate Deacon Don Sobolewski, the St. Patrick School Board and myself, we would like to offer many thank yous for a great 2017-18 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 counselors, coaching staff and parish staff. 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 the 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 members, PTO, and Athletic Association members as well as many other groups and individuals for help 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 for your trust, support, and cooperation during the school year. We are appreciative and thankful to everyone who makes 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.


Newest Diocesan Priest

Posted on June 9, 2018 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

The most important thing we want our students to learn in their years attending St. Patrick School is how to answer God’s call for their life.

Some of our graduates will be called to attend college and find a specific career, while others may be called to a trade or even to serve our country in the military.  Many of our students will be called to the married life.  And we find particular joy in those called to serve as priests or religious brothers and sisters.

One of our students, Michael Steffes Jr., officially answered God’s call to become a priest Saturday, June 2. Michael, Class of 2008, was ordained at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew in downtown Grand Rapids in front a standing room only crowd.

With Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak, bishop of Grand Rapids, presiding, Fr. Michael made five promises: 1) to assist bishops in caring for the Lord’s flock; 2) to preach and teach “worthily and wisely”; 3) to celebrate faithfully the sacraments; 4) to “pray without ceasing” for God’s mercy upon the people entrusted to his care; and to resolve to “be united more closely every day to Christ the High Priest.”

He then knelt before the Bishop and promised to respect and obey him and his successors. After the Laying on Hands and the Prayer of Ordination, he was vested with a new stole, signifying Holy Orders and service, and with a chasuble, which is an outer garment worn by priests and bishops when the Eucharist is being celebrated.

It was a special moment for many from Portland as Father Michael chose our former pastor Fr. Larry King to be his vesting clergy.

After that, his hands were anointed with sacred chrism to symbolize the priest’s distinctive participation in Christ’s priesthood as one who offers sacrifice to God and sanctifies the Christian people. Finally, the bread and wine were placed into his hands pointing to his duty of presiding at the celebration of the Eucharist and of following Christ crucified.

If you want to watch the Ordination Mass, it can be found on the Diocese of Grand Rapids’ Facebook page.

While Fr. Michael Steffes is a graduate of St.Patrick High School, he spent eight years at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill., to prepare for ordination.

Our students have been blessed to have Fr. Michael as a regular visitor to the classroom and the playground and have enjoyed watching him grow from college student to seminarian to deacon to priest.

He has been a living witness to what we ask our students to do, which is to follow God’s call for their life.

It was great to see so many of his classmates at his ordination on Saturday at the cathedral and at his First Mass at St. Patrick Church on Sunday. It speaks to the connections our students make, even 10 years after graduating from college. Please keep Fr. Michael in your prayers as he begins his priestly ministry. Please also keep seminarian Johnathon Johnson (2008) and Sr. M. Evangeline (Wendy Rutherford, Class of 2009) in your prayers as well as our students, past and present, who may be discerning God’s call.


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!