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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Portland St. Patrick Catholic School Invites Families to School Open House

Posted on March 12, 2019 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

St. Patrick School invites any prospective students and their families to come visit and attend an open house on Sunday, March 24 from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. The open house is for students who will be in any grade from preschool through the 12th grade for the 2019-20 school year.

The open house will allow individuals or families the time to come and take a tour the school and visit classrooms; speak to teachers and current families; explore the curriculum and speak to teachers about their grade level or subject area; and finally, the opportunity to learn more about the extracurricular activities offered by the school. Members of the school administration, St. Patrick School Board and the teaching staff will be present to answer any questions you may have.

St. Patrick Catholic School has been expanding programs such as their STEAM curriculum and dual enrollment classes allowing students to earn college credits both on and off campus. As the only Catholic school enrolling pre-school through 12th grade in the county, St. Patrick Catholic School is open to students residing in Portland, as well as from neighboring communities. One does not need to be Catholic to attend St. Patrick School.

When kindergarten teacher, Cortney Smith, was asked about the benefits that St. Patrick Catholic School offers its students, alumnus and parents and she said, “I love how joyful the children are every day and how each child develops a confidence in his or her own abilities! Here at St. Patrick School, we believe education is a partnership of the teacher, parents and students working together to achieve goals. We take great pride in communication and getting to the whole student. We are committed to creating excitement and growth both spiritually and academically. We will guide and encourage your child, celebrating each step of the way as he or she gains a love of learning, self-confidence and skills that form a foundation for continued success!”

Founded in 1909, St. Patrick Catholic School has a great tradition of academic success evident in its graduation rates, test scores and the number of graduates participating in collegiate level studies as well as educational & training programs after high school. The school enrolls 370 students and serves preschool through 12th grade all in one building. More information can be found at, on the school’s Facebook page and Twitter.

When attending the open house, please enter through the main office doors on Church Street. There is parking available in the parking lot located between the church and the school and overflow parking is available across Church Street by the parish office.

We look forward to meeting and showing your family around St. Patrick School on Sunday, March 24 from 12:30 – 2:30. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the school office at (517)647-7551.


St. Patrick School Prepares for Lent

Posted on March 6, 2019 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Lent, from the Middle English word Lentum, meaning springtime – the time of lengthening days, is a period of 40 days of fasting, prayer, and penitence before Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 6 this year, and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday, April 18 this year, when the Paschal Fast 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.

The students and staff at St. Patrick School have begun to spend time preparing for Lent. Students and staff in grade preschool through 12 attended Ash Wednesday Mass with Fr. Mike. 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 who 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 of the 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 on Good Friday.

• Operation Rice Bowl: Middle school students put the Rice Bowls together and study some of the areas around the world and discuss how this program will help those affected areas. On Holy Thursday, the staff will serve our students lunch and the students will donate that day’s lunch money to the Rice Bowl.

• 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 Bowls.

• Students individually commit to fasting or performing acts of Christian service.

• While students will not be attending Reconciliation as a class, secondary students have opportunities to receive this sacrament throughout Lent by attending during parish times. Each Wednesday at noon, Fr. Mike will be in the confessional. With parent permission, students in grades 6-12 may sign out of school and go to confession. Fr. Mike will also be in the confessional on Fridays at 2:30 so students may attend on their own after dismissal. Fr. Mike encourages all students in the 2nd grade or older to attend Reconciliation with their families during the times that have already been mentioned or on Saturdays at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

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 well prepared for the resurrection on Easter.


St. Patrick Students Participate in the March for Life

Posted on January 30, 2019 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

This week’s column is submitted by Junior Anna Schasser who attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C. for the second consecutive year.

A group of kids from a small Catholic school gather their forces and prayers and step into action to do what is needed to protect the defenseless. This is the story told, when referring to Portland St. Patrick High School’s trip to the March for Life. The trip was amazing! It was my second year going on the March and both times I witnessed such strength and unity.

Imagine this: more people than can be fathomed gathered in a single place for a good cause united by the fact that they believe. This belief is for life. The life of the baby and the morality of society. Everybody gathered in DC had this belief in common. Everyone marching was there for the good of our future generations. Why did I decide to join the March? I decided to march because of this unity, because of the cause, because I believe that it is better to act than stand by idly. St. Patrick School brought a total of 56 people to the March. Fifty of them were students, each one made the undeniably brave choice of taking action. This is almost half of the entire high school. On the March, the 56 of us became bonded and united by that experience, the experience we shared.

To walk you through the trip, we left around 5 a.m. on Thursday, January 17 and arrived at our hotel in the evening. After we all got settled we went to an event called the “Life is Very Good” event. This event can bring a person to tears. It took place in a huge stadium and included adoration, confession, and excellent music. It was fantastic, even more so, moving. As the Christian music band MercyMe reminds us - When the heart is moved, it changes a person and plants a seed of faith. Sometimes you only need a little faith to move mountains.

After the event we hit the hay because the next day would be long, tiring, and in almost every way, fulfilling. Morning came, we ate, we packed lunch, we left. The group ended up at the Lincoln Memorial and from there we split into teams to explore. After seeing the sights, everybody gathered together and moved to the area of the March. Several speakers addressed the crowd including Vice President Pence and his wife. Then we had a video call from the President himself. It was exciting and empowering to know that such influential people were on our side and supporting the half a million of us.


Soon the March began, and we flooded the street. There were loud noises and songs playing as everybody crammed together, but that was okay. We did not mind so much because we all had a bigger goal in mind. As we marched we all experienced quite a few, fantastic things. We experienced the shouting of rallying cries, and a rosary. At one point we even got to sing with a bunch of seminarians. We ended up by the Capitol building where we split off the main group and made our way to the National Basilica. There we had the choice to attend Mass and explore. Our group was there for over an hour until we had to leave that night back to the little town of Portland.


I cannot speak for everybody, but I can speak for me, and I believe the March is something incredible, and the only true way to do it justice is to experience it yourself. I encourage people to take a few days to go and fight for life.


School Board Recognition Month

Posted on January 16, 2019 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Nationwide, January has been designated as School Board Recognition Month. As citizen leaders of St. Patrick School, our board members face complex and demanding challenges. For those who may not be aware, the St. Patrick School Board is a Board of Limited Jurisdiction. With this set up, board members work closely with the administration and assist in the governance of the school. Diocesan policy states, “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 school board has been proactive in these new responsibilities over the past four and half years. Boards of Limited Jurisdiction instead of traditional school boards are common in Catholic schools across the country.

Our 12-member school board is made up of current and past parents, community members, and alumni. Their work is completed within the following subcommittees:

• Executive Committee

• Mission Effectiveness Committee

• Policy and Strategic Planning Committee

• Finance, Building and Grounds Committee

• Marketing and Communications Committee

• Development, Admissions and Enrollment Committee

The current members of the board are: Mrs. Annalise Laumeyer, chair of the board and the Executive Committee. Mrs. Melissa Schrauben is the vice chair of the board and chairs the Development, Admissions and Enrollment Committee along with Mr. Michael Wolfston. Mrs. Nancy Wohlschied serves as the recording secretary. Mrs. Sue Vanlente and Mrs. Leslie Weller serve as the Marketing and Communications Committee chairs. Mr. Jeff Fedewa and Mrs. Heather Boyd chair the Finance, Building and Grounds Committee. Mrs. Jennifer Davlin and Mrs. Brandi Bengel serve as the chairs of the Mission Effectiveness Committee. Mrs. Lisa Bartlett and Mrs. Shayla Schneider serve as the chairs of the Policy and Strategic Planning Committee.

St. Patrick School has a professional board with members who bring a vast wealth of expertise to each meeting. We are very blessed to have a group of community members that are willing to bring their strengths, knowledge, insights and experience to help further the mission of our school.

The St. Patrick School Board meets approximately every six weeks and encourages the public to attend. Meetings begin with Mass at 6 p.m. and reconvene after Mass at 6:45 p.m. in the Parish Hall. The meeting dates for the remainder of the school year are:

• February 19

• April 23

• May 21

I would like to thank our school board members for their time, talent, and dedication. Their knowledge, enthusiasm, and leadership are a vital part of our school’s success. If you have questions, concerns, suggestions or if you’re interested in becoming a member of our school board or a subcommittee, please contact school board chairperson Annalise Laumeyer at We are looking for new board members beginning with next school year.

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

In 2019 - See the World Through Someone Else's Eyes

Posted on January 7, 2019 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

When I was in college at Central Michigan University, to enter the program to become a teacher, one had to take a Perceiver Interview and score well. I only scored poorly on one question. I still remember that question. Does one need to have empathy to be a successful teacher? Here I was, a young college student who did not even know what the word meant so I muddled my way through some made up answer that was not correct - as I would learn soon enough.

After the interview, I immediately went back to my apartment, pulled out my handy Webster Dictionary and looked the word up. Empathy - the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another. Hmm. Yes, I definitely had that one wrong! For some reason, this question has never left me and instead weighs on my mind frequently.

As I become older and more self-aware of who I am, I continually look around me and realize how much I have grown as an individual recently. I believe the reason for my personal growth is due to empathy. I have started to work hard at seeing the world through the eyes of many of those in my life. Recently, I have stopped and taken a good long look at the world through the eyes of some of the following:

• Preschool students through seniors in high school

• Our parents

• Our teachers

• A social worker working with the elderly

• A soldier in the U.S. Army

• A 76-year-old stroke survivor

• Doctors, nurses, surgeons, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists in many facets of hospital care and aftercare

• A pastor new to his parish and a town

• Those who serve as permanent deacons in the Catholic Church

Needless to say, and as one can imagine, getting all these different perspectives on the world and on life can significantly change a person’s way of thinking and their view of the world.

Stop and imagine a moment how the world would be different if everyone took time to see the world view of others. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. We are wired to look out for ourselves. How often do we like to talk about ourselves when we really should stop and listen to others and gain their perspective? In arguments and debates, how often do we ever stop and listen to our opponents? In our beliefs of politics, religion, sports, finances and many other areas, we often argue, try to debate and convince others that our point of view is right instead of seeking common ground, areas we can work on together or problems that can be solved by working to find the best solution.

As we begin the New Year, if you really want to make a difference in your own life and the lives of others, stop and take a good long look at those around you. Try to think about the challenges they face and why those individuals are who they are. What are the experiences in life that have shaped and formed them? How do they see the world? What about the aches and hurts they suffered through and the obstacles they have overcome? The difficulties that have arisen in their life and the hardships they face.

Maybe, just maybe, instead of scorning, looking down on, victimizing, demonizing, criticizing, ostracizing, bullying, isolating, arguing with, or just downright mean to, you will rise to the challenge and become someone’s hero. You will lift them up from the depths of despair, be their hope, their reason to rejoice, to even get out of bed and start their day, to smile or even their reason to live and make it through another day. Make 2019 the year you open the eyes of your heart, to see the world through someone else’s eyes and use that vision to go make a difference in the world because every single person matters. May God bless your 2019! 

Celebrating the successes of 2018

Posted on December 24, 2018 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

The end of the year always finds the circulation of many lists counting down the major events that happened. And before we ring in 2019, I would like to create my own list and look back at the top events for St. Patrick School during 2018.

It would be impossible to rank them in order of importance so I have placed them in chronological order instead:

1. We were excited that 36 of our high school students made the decision to attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C. in January. This is the beginning of our goal of having the entire high school attend. We have 50 students who have committed to attend the March for Life 2019.

2. In February, our pastor Fr. Larry King officially retired. Bishop Walkowiak named Fr. Michael Alber as our new pastor.

3. We staged a school play for the second consecutive year by performing What Happened After Once Upon a Time.

4. Our school participated in the Giant Rice Bowl project again this year during Lent raising $1,378.86 for Catholic Relief Services.

5. The Class of 2018 graduated in May. 24 out of the 26 enrolled in higher education with $270,000 in committed scholarship money. Seven had a grade point average over a 4.0 and 24 out of the 26 had one over a 3.0.

6. St. Patrick High School and Aquinas College continued with our agreement to host college classes on our campus. We expanded our course offerings adding Cultural Anthropology and Introduction to Psychology courses.

7. We expanded out 1:1 Chromebook initiative by adding Chromebooks for our 8th grade students. In 2019, our middle and high school students will all be provided a Chromebook.

8. Our girls varsity cross country team finished first in the state in Academic All-State. They had the highest grade point average of any Division IV school fielding a cross country team.

9. The varsity football team finished as state runner up this year. They advanced to the state semifinals before being ousted by a strong Onekema team.

10. Our campus ministry followed up last year’s exciting activities by adding Thanksgiving dinner the night before Thanksgiving for those looking for a good meal, companionship or both. They finished the year with a new activity called “Christmas on the Ranch.”

“We Achieve!” is the third and final part of our mission statement and it is evidenced by this list. Many hours of work by a great number of individuals were completed to make all of these events happen throughout 2018. We are excited about these accomplishments and are even more excited for the prospect of bigger and better things to come in 2019. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at St. Patrick School!


St. Patrick School's Christmas Wish List

Posted on December 21, 2018 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Each year around this time, we are often asked about the current needs of the school since people like to make tax-deductible donations before the year ends. Below is a wish list of items that we would greatly appreciate receiving donations toward. You may donate by putting cash or a check in the offertory at Mass and writing what you would like to designate your donation toward specifically. You may also drop off a check in the school or parish office (by mail or in person) or donate online at

• Remodeling of the school bathrooms – We have four bathrooms, two men’s rooms and two women’s rooms in the original part of the building. These bathrooms are more than 60 years old. These four restrooms will be gutted (including all plumbing) and totally remodeled with the goal of doing so this coming summer. We plan on using current classroom space to also install two staff-only bathrooms at the same time. Preliminary indications are that the bathroom extreme makeover project will cost around $500,000.

• New roof on the school – The roof on the parish educational facility needs to be replaced. Early indications are that it will cost approximately $250,000.

• Father Flohe Foundation Endowment Fund – Currently, our school’s endowment fund is in the midst of a pledge drive. The current foundation has 2.4 million dollars and now gives $95,000 to the school annually. We would like to increase the corpus of the foundation with the goal of allowing the endowment to give off more, which will keep pressure off of driving up our annual school budget.

• Shamrock Scholarship Fund – Each year we do a pledge drive to build up our annual current needs scholarship fund. There are always students in need of immediate tuition assistance, especially when things come up unexpectedly over the course of a school year such as the loss of employment, a divorce, or death in the family. This past year, we gave approximately $50,000 in scholarships while the overall need was approximately $85,000.

• Chromebooks for the Class of 2023 – To continue our 1:1 implementation of Chromebooks, in which each incoming freshman class receives a Chromebook. The approximate cost is $6,000 to the school. This is one of our larger capital expenditures each year and a donation would help defer the cost from our annual budget. Each Chromebook costs approximately $200.

• Create a college scholarship (any amount) – We are always looking for college scholarships to award our graduating seniors. Remember a loved one or support your alma mater and give a child the gift of a college education. You set the amount and choose the qualifications of the scholarship.

We thank you for your generosity! If you are willing to fund any or all the programs listed above, we would be truly thankful! Any donations toward these projects are greatly appreciated. If you have any questions about these projects, please feel free to contact Mr. Randy Hodge at the St. Patrick School office at 647-7551 or We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


2018 Fall Sports Wrap Up

Posted on December 12, 2018 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (0)

St. Patrick High School wrapped up another successful fall sports season with our annual awards banquet on November 28. The biggest highlight of the season was our girls varsity cross country team which finished number one in the state in Academic All-State. Our football team also finished one win shy of returning to the state championship game losing in the semifinal to Onekema. We would like to congratulate all our teams for their efforts throughout this fall sports season! A lot of time and hard work was put forth in the gym, on the field and of course in the classroom by our student athletes.

As previously mentioned, the Shamrock football team had a strong season going 7 – 5, winning a regional championship trophy and advancing to the state semifinal. Individual honors include:

• Riley Kissane: All-State defensive back

• Ned Smith: All-State defensive line

• Paul Cook: Tim Chamberlain Award

• Brett Price: Bishop Baraga Award

The varsity volleyball team had another solid season. They finished second in both the Morrice and Carson City-Crystal invitationals and finished the season with a 20-18-5 record. They also exceled in the classroom qualifying for team Academic All-State and each senior was awarded Academic All-State. Individual awards include:

• Samee Teachworth: 2nd team CMAC and Class D All-Region

• Annie Gunderman: Honorable mention CMAC and Academic All-State

• Grace Timmer: Academic All-State

• Jerika Kihn: Academic All-State

• Alana Brown: Academic All-State

• Leah Cook: Academic All-State

• Summer Russman: Academic All-State

Our cross-country program had a girls’ team for the second consecutive season and as previously mentioned, finished first in the state in girls Division IV Academic All-State. Unfortunately, we were unable to field a boys team but did have two solid runners representing our boys cross country program. Individual honors include:

• Tyler Coyne: Honorable mention CMAC

Our JV volleyball team finished with a 12-12 record. We also had a freshmen volleyball team again this year. They brought home trophies from both the Lakewood and Dansville Invitationals.

As a Catholic School, we expect our student athletes to represent our school in a positive manner, bringing Christ to everything they do, and making us proud with their sportsmanship. Without a doubt, they have done so in what turned out to be an extremely successful fall sports season. Our high school student athletes did an excellent job representing our school mission statement: We Pray! We Learn! We Achieve!


Advent is a time to Prepare

Posted on December 9, 2018 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

While the secular world has already started celebrating Christmas and counting the days down, decorating their houses, putting up Christmas trees and going to the malls do their Christmas shopping, the Christian World just celebrated its new year with the beginning of Advent.

The word Advent derives from Latin meaning coming or arrival. Jesus is coming, and Advent is intended to be a season of preparation for His arrival. The Catholic Church's liturgical season of Advent is a sacred time for prayer and quiet reflection as we prepare to celebrate Christ's birth.

However, Advent is much more than recalling the humble beginning and birth of our Lord and Savior. We are also preparing for the future coming we as we anticipate and look towards Christ's Second Coming as Judge of the world at the end of time.

At St. Patrick School, each Monday we will gather around the Advent Wreath in our school gymnasium. We will light the next candle for the week and take time to sing and pray and remember exactly what it is we are preparing for on Christmas day when the church actually begins the season of Christmas.

The Advent Wreath serves as a powerful visual reminder of the holiness of the season. It is shaped in a perfect circle to represent the eternity of God. The four candles used, three purple and one pink, mark the Sundays of Advent before Christmas. The purple candles are reminders that this should be a time of prayer and sacrifice to prepare us for the second coming of Christ. On the third Sunday, the pink candle is lit to announce Gaudete Sunday, a Sunday of rejoicing for Christ is coming near.

As you prepare for the coming of Christ on Christmas morning, remember to put time aside to participate in Advent. It is a time for charity and generosity for those in need. Make sure to reserve and put aside special time for extra prayer and reflection. Advent is also a time to fast and focus on one’s own spirituality. Finally, Advent is a time to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and take a renewed interest in and a focus on the beauty of the Liturgy. When the final candle is lit on the wreath and Advent comes to a successful completion, it will be time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the beginning of the Christmas season.


Plenty of Reasons to be Thankful

Posted on November 26, 2018 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Thanksgiving break has come and gone offering all of us plenty of time to reflect and count our blessings. As we approach the end of the year, there are plenty of reasons for St. Patrick School to be thankful. Here are a few of the main ones:

• Recently, we found out we were the recipients of a Michigan State Police Safety and Security grant in the amount of $100,000. We appreciate that a parent took the time to apply for this grant which will allow us to provide upgrades to the infrastructure of our building.

• An anonymous donor has stepped forward with a generous donation to upgrade the sound system in our school gymnasium. We are also going to look at the possibility of making other improvements to our stage area once the new pole building is completed at our athletic complex and the weight room is moved to the new facility.

• Through several generous donations, we are hoping to have our entire high school travel to Washington D.C. to participate in the March for Life in January.

• St. Patrick School has had several very generous “Tuition Angels” come forward that have anonymously donated to help students be able to afford a Catholic School education.

• To the many individuals who donate to classrooms which allow our teachers to purchase many items that allow them to provide a top-quality educational experience for their students.

• To the many individuals and businesses who donated food and drinks to help our campus ministry team host a Thanksgiving dinner at the school on the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving. Many people showed up looking for a good meal, good company or both. We hope to make this a new tradition at St. Patrick School.

We are very appreciative to all the individuals who have generously donated to St. Patrick School and Parish this year. We would be unable to offer the high-quality education and provide the many opportunities that we do if it were not for all of you.

Many projects have been accomplished this year, but there is still more work to be done. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation before the end of the year we have a few large projects that we are still seeking funding for; our pastor, Fr. Mike has made the remodeling of four of our school bathrooms as well as installing two new staff bathrooms a high priority. We also would like to install lockers in the elementary hallways which would allow for students to keep their winter clothing items separate. Installing lockers in the hallways, would also provide an opportunity for us as we look to remodel our classrooms in the future.

We hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. We are very thankful, grateful and appreciative to all those individuals who continue to make great things happen at St. Patrick School. May God bless you and the gifts you have so generously shared with us.


Teaching our Students about Safety

Posted on November 12, 2018 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Every October, St. Patrick School marks Fire Prevention Month like many other schools in the area. So, over the past few weeks our students have had the opportunity to learn about fire safety as well as what happens in a situation where someone has gone into cardiac arrest. These lessons help prepare the students to do their best to stay safe whether an emergency arises at school or somewhere else.

Many of our teachers discussed fire safety during the first week of October during Fire Prevention Week, but on Friday, November 2, the Portland Fire Department brought a comedian to our school to discuss fire safety in more depth. The comedian expounded upon the lessons that our students had already learned in a thought provoking, entertaining and engaging way. The students enjoyed the performance!

The following Monday, members of the Portland Ambulance Team came to St. Patrick School to run an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) drill. The drill began with members of our teaching staff finding a “student” (it was actually a mannequin) on the floor. Since all members of our parish and school staff are all trained in CPR and AED usage, they immediately tried to save this student by beginning CPR.

Allowing for the time it would take for first responders to arrive on the scene, members of the Portland Ambulance crew entered the gymnasium, relieving the members of the teaching staff and immediately started to work on the “student”. They explained what they would do in the event of an actual situation where someone was in cardiac arrest as they demonstrated on the mannequin.

After members of the Portland EMS crew were able to save the “student,” the real students were reminded to always call 911 in the event of an emergency and to stay out of the way once the ambulance arrives. It was also explained to the students where the AED’s can be found throughout the school, in the church and at the athletic complex.

We never know when and where an emergency will take place, but it is our goal to make sure our students and staff members are as prepared as possible in case an emergency ever occurs.

We truly appreciate the members of the Portland Fire Department and Portland Ambulance who took time out of their busy schedules to visit St. Patrick School and work with our students. We also thank them for their service and all they do for the greater Portland community.


Spend Time Thanking a Veteran and Listening to their Story

Posted on November 7, 2018 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Each year, on November 11, the citizens of the United States celebrate Veteran’s Day. On this date and at various times throughout the year, I often hear people thank a veteran for serving our country. While this is a nice gesture, I recommend you take time to go even further then just thanking a veteran.

Since my son has joined the military, I have been surprised at how many veterans have opened up to me to tell me about their time in the service. Now, when I know someone is a veteran, I thank them for their service, but I quickly follow up with questions that open the door to letting them know that I am interested in hearing their story.


Maybe it is because I have a son in the military, maybe it’s because I love learning about history, maybe it is because I love to talk with people, I’m not sure why, but I truly enjoy hearing the stories of our veterans. I also have learned that veterans love to have someone to sit down and talk with about this part of their life journey.

I have learned that some of the best questions to get a conversation started are:

• Which branch of the military did you serve in (if you do not already know)?

• Where did you complete basic training?

• Where were you stationed during your time of service?

• Were you ever deployed? If yes, where were you deployed to?

• What are some of your favorite stories of when of your served?

I must warn you that sometimes these history lessons can turn a bit sappy. Many of the stories I have heard include how they met their spouse and fell in love. Of course, everyone enjoys a good love story.

With Veterans Day approaching on November 11 (although formally celebrated on November 12th this year due to the 11th being a Sunday), make sure to not only thank a veteran but take time to sit down with them and let them tell their story. You will walk away a much wiser person and very appreciative of their sacrifice. Even though it may have been an extremely challenging time in their lives, most will enjoy the opportunity to talk about this part of their life and appreciate you taking the time to listen to their journey. I always walk away from these conversations feeling like a better and more knowledgeable person.

Please join us at St. Patrick School for our annual Veterans Day celebration on Monday, November 12 at 10 a.m. in the school gymnasium. There will be treats served in our parish hall immediately following the celebration.


The Pro-Life Generation

Posted on October 31, 2018 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Throughout our recent history, many of our students have attended The March for Life in Washington D.C. Almost every student who has attended the March over the years has come back inspired by the event.

As our students continue to be inspired by those who have attended the March before them, the number of students wanting to attend this event continues to grow. Last year, 35 of our students and six chaperones attended. The goal now is to send our entire student body to the March. To encourage attendance and to show our support of students and staff who would like to attend, the school calendar is cleared of any events from January 17 – 19.


The trip begins early on Thursday morning with students boarding the bus and heading toward Washington D.C. The trip is filled with singing, movies, stories and prayer. Once they arrive, they will attend a rally at George Washington University. At the rally, the students will listen to powerful speakers, sing of God’s glory and experience the Lord in adoration. These things set the mood for the morning to come.

The next day will begin with sightseeing around our nation’s capital. Following sightseeing and about an hour before the March, the students and staff will attend another rally. This rally features testimonies from mothers who have experienced the effects of abortion. There are also many politicians who show up to offer their support for the pro-life movement. Following this rally, students will proceed in the March for Life which ends at the Supreme Court. Following the March, they will spend some time at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception where they will attend Mass and offer up our prayers for the unborn. Our students and their chaperones will then board the bus and head for home.

Sending a whole high school to Washington D.C. is a costly endeavor and we are looking for those who may be passionate in their support of life at all levels who would be willing to be generous and serve as a sponsor of this event.

More and more I am inspired by our student body and their willingness to not only be advocates for the unborn but also for the elderly, the impaired and the underprivileged. Our students are encouraged to come home and share the experience they had on the March for Life with others and to continue to be advocates and stand up for life at every level. You can read more about the March at

Strategies for raising well-behaved and successful children

Posted on October 21, 2018 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I’m not sure if it is because I have been an educator for a long time or if it is because I have raised two children, but I often get asked questions about parenting. We have all heard the old adage that children do not come with instructions of how they should be raised which is definitely true and there are no guaranteed strategies that will work with every child, but there are some strategies however, that will increase the odds of raising successful children.

My wife and I have talked about this very topic over the years and would like to share some of the strategies we used when raising our children. We believe these tried and true ideas will help your family raise well-behaved and successful children. Here are some of our favorite suggestions:

• Spend quality time with each child every day, if possible. This may include taking a walk, taking your children to the park, going on a bike ride, playing a board game or going out in the yard and playing ball. Spending quality time with each child, each day is one of the most important things you can do with your child.

• Tuck your children into bed each night and give them a good night kiss. It guarantees your children will go to sleep each night feeling loved, safe and secure.

• Sit down for a family meal whenever you have the chance. This provides your family a chance to touch base and converse on a regular basis. Do not allow phones at the table.

• Take a vacation or get away with just your family. This allows you the opportunity to visit museums or parks, go hiking or any other fun activity that you share as a family. Put the phones away on your drive which allows you to talk and grow as family.

• Go to church as family. This provides parents the opportunity to share your values with your children. You can discuss the homily or anything else about the Mass on your way home.

• Schedule family activities on a regular basis. You can have family reading time and set aside time each night to read. You can have family movie night, family board game night or just sit down together and watch your favorite tv show.

• Take an interest in their school work. Keep an eye on their grades and engage them in conversation about what they are learning. Do not ask the question “what did you learn in school today?” The usual answer is “nothing.” Do ask them what topics were covered in various subject areas and what they thought of them. Many students are oral learners and take in information best if they are being quizzed out loud.

• Limit the amount of technology your children use and make sure to provide oversight for the technology they are using. While technology can be a great tool, too much technology or time on phones, video games, or watching television or movies is detrimental to child’s health and well-being.

There are so many other great ideas, but the most important thing you can do with your children is spend quality time with them and engage them in conversation. The more you talk with your kids the stronger your relationship with them. This is also your opportunity to teach them. It is important to enjoy your children while they are young because before you know it, they are all grown up, out of the house and on their own. You can never have regrets about spending too much quality time with your children while they are growing up.



St. Patrick Staff and Students Busy with Activities

Posted on October 9, 2018 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)

We are into the fall and the end of the 1st marking period is already in sight. While much has been accomplished thus far in the school year, there is no time to relax or rest on our laurels as there are many activities to look forward to before Thanksgiving break. Here are some of the activities that will take place between now and Thanksgiving break at St. Patrick School to make sure you put them into your calendar.

• October 14: St. Patrick School will host our annual Fall Festival fundraiser. See my column from last week for more details on the event.

• October 18 and 19: The St. Patrick School teaching staff will attend the Michigan Association of Nonpublic Schools (MANS) conference in Grand Rapids. This conference brings together school leaders, teachers, and staff from member schools across the state. They enjoy two days of professional development, sharing with colleagues, and the unique opportunity for fellowship with Catholic and Lutheran Schools throughout the State of Michigan.

• October 26: The first marking period will officially come to an end.

• October 31: Elementary students will celebrate Halloween with parties in their classrooms and our annual costume parade around the school gymnasium.

• November 1: Our students will attend an all-school Mass for All Saints Day. This will be followed by a Big Rock/Little Rock event in classrooms.

• November 2: St. Patrick School will host members of the Portland Fire Department for our annual fire prevention assembly.

• November 12: St. Patrick School will host its annual Veterans Day program in the school gymnasium at 10 a.m. Veterans, their families, and everyone else is invited to join us as we celebrate and pay tribute to those who have served our nation.

• November 15: School will not be in session as many of our students head to the fields and woods in pursuit of the elusive whitetail.

• November 21-23: School will not be in session for Thanksgiving Break.

The fall sports season begins to wind down as the varsity cross country, football, and volleyball teams begin participation in their respective state tournaments at the beginning of November. The winter sports season officially kicks off with the following dates:

• November 5: The first day for boys basketball practice.

• November 12: The first day for girls basketball and girls and boys bowling.

It is going to be a very busy, yet fun and exciting time of the year at St. Patrick School. With all the activities that will take place throughout the rest of October and into November. If you have any questions about any of the scheduled activities, consult the school website at or call the school office at 647 – 7551.