November 5, 2021 Weekly Newsletter

Hello St. Mary’s School community,

I write to you today about what initiatives as a Principal I am taking to achieve the school’s mission, and
what opportunities lie ahead. I’ve been searching and finding solutions to the many challenges the school faces and implementing some of these solutions. Some of the other solutions will take time, and still others quite a long time to bear results. The long-term goals can and will be achieved if we have a
shared vision and work hard as stakeholders in St. Mary’s School. I believe there is something at stake,
some interest for each person that receives this email. My hope is that my emails and communication
can empower those in the community to act on their interest and help us build a better School community together.

These past few weeks it’s become clearer that we are doing a lot with fewer faculty, staff and volunteers
than in recent years, and therefore running the school in this state presents numerous
unnecessary challenges. Doing more with less can sometimes be a good thing, but not in the case of our
school now. Therefore, getting the right people into the right positions is a priority. We are recruiting for
various positions, including school secretary, 6th grade teacher, pre-K teacher and aide, parent
volunteers at lunch and recess, and snowblower operator. If we recruit committed, reliable and skillful
candidates for these positions, we will decrease the load and risk of burnout on all those who are picking
up the tasks these roles perform. However, if we don’t hire anyone for these positions, our school will not
only be at a loss, but it will put undue pressure and stress on those already with full plates. Although I
believe those who work for St. Mary’s are already working hard and stretching themselves, there is a limit
to how much they should be taking on, and many are going far above and beyond their duties.

Therefore, I would ask everyone reading this to think of someone you know who might be interested in
the positions listed and have them contact St. Mary’s school with their resume. For parents, I would ask
that you ask Theresa Miller, myself, or someone at the school about volunteering at lunch, recess or in
other many small ways. Although the volunteer hours were waived this year, the need for those volunteer
hours has not gone with it. That service filled a significant gap in our operations and is hard to replace
simply with a paid position. Just like the work of staff and faculty of St. Mary’s School, your work matters
and is a scarce resource. Please consider using the talents God has given you, including your time and
effort to make St. Mary’s even better than it is today. We are a unique school with a unique vision and
mission, let us be a light to the Sault of what it means to realize God-centered ideals. The career and
volunteer opportunities at St. Mary’s school will only continue to increase, as we grow and expand to fulfill our school’s purpose.

I wanted to thank all those who recommended applicants and those candidates who have applied or
expressed interest in positions. We are making progress on hiring decisions and figuring out the logistics
of onboarding.


May you have a blessed weekend,
In Christ,
Tim

October 29, 2021 Weekly Newsletter

Hello Saint Mary’s School community,


This week there were even more favorable developments for the future of the school, especially in terms
of spiritual and material enrichment. My task in these newsletters is to not only introduce recent and
future events, but to follow up on things I said I would do. Even more so, I hope to regularly speak about
the most important things to us as a community, insofar as it relates to the welfare of St. Mary’s school.

The foremost update is on the pre-school, and its reason for being. I see the pre-school program as a
response to a need, or in economic terms, a service that supplies a demand. The parents of the
community determine the need and demand, and the school responds in supplying the service. Although
mission is primary and we do not seek monetary profits, we do need to have a economically viable
program that does not lose money for the school, before we can launch it. To qualify this program as
viable, we need to meet a certain quota of students and tuition, the more the better. Tied into qualifying
the program is what parents require of the program, half, full or extended aftercare services. The half day
seems to be most aligned with our mission of formation and education, but we are looking at how we
might serve beyond that.

Finally, the majority of the tuition coming in will go towards recruiting and growing a professional teacher and aide for this program. Although we have some candidates already, the diocese has asked that we open up recruitment officially to all in a public and formal way, to make sure we have a fair and
competitive recruitment process. As with all our other positions, we hope to recruit and retain the very
most qualified, professional and faithful faculty and staff to serve the students. The work we do at St.
Mary’s is not just about education, it is about a way of life that is permeated and informed by our Catholic faith. This alone makes us dramatically different from any other state school or educational institution in the area. In addition, we are aggressively investing in an endowment fund for our teachers so that we can reward them with a salary that matches and then exceeds any other in the area.

Although there are many unknowns and significant challenges to overcome to reach our goals to
reestablish programs, committees, teams, faculty, staff and student numbers, we can trust in God and His
providence to help us. Already this week I’ve seen many small wins that push the school in the right
direction. In the past month I’ve seen the school advance in many ways towards a better future, and I’m
sure that in the weeks and months to come St. Mary’s school will continue to improve with, and only with
God’s help.

All Saints’ day and all Hallows'(Saints’) eve, otherwise known as Halloween, is approaching. To all those
who will have their children dress up as a Saint, I’d like to thank you for the time, effort and money you
either already have or will put into costumes and supporting your child’s role for the day as a Saint. It is
important for them to personify a Saint to get to know them better, and to realize what this Catholic
holiday (holy day) was originally about.

As a reminder, Yearbook photo retakes will be this Wednesday, the 3rd in the morning.

Thank you and have a safe All Saints’ eve, and may the souls of heaven pray for us,

In Christ,
Tim Vail

October 22, 2021 Weekly Newsletter

Dear Saint Mary’s School Community,

This week’s picnic was for the community to gather, meet each other; some for the first time, and to be
heard. The picnic, along with other events this week helped put the school on to a better footing than
before those events. The picnic had a great showing of people, students, parents, faculty and staff, as
well as other visitors. There were tents outside and tables inside and even some calming piano in the
background for when the clamor of children’s voices got too loud.

On behalf of the school I want to thank all those who planned, set up and made the picnic happen, and
run well. Picnics and events where we come together, especially face to face, are opportunities to build
and strengthen bonds. When the school community can meet for the sake of the school, and talk about
what is important to them, it can lead to collaboration, great ideas, and trust. This is what I saw at
the picnic and it helps me and others to act in the best interest of our students, who are the primary
purpose of the school.

With substantial feedback about different programs and initiatives from the parents and other community members, I can foresee the possibility of several events, programs and initiatives being resurrected, and novel ones being attempted. There is a strong possibility of the pre-K program starting again within the year, and we are analyzing what is the wisest and most practicable way to re-establish that. The issue at hand is how many parents are interested, and whether a half or full day would serve the needs of parents while being the most beneficial for students and manageable for the school.

I was pleasantly surprised this week to hear overwhelmingly positive responses about the potential for a
high school, and even offers for applications from potential teachers. Right now the subject of a high
school is strictly exploratory, and so as with the pre-k, if there are interested parents, please express your
interest. If there is enough demand, we will make every effort to see how we might supply and serve that
need, even if it takes us several years.

I would be amiss if I did not address what we are doing to improve our current K-8, in order to make sure
we reward and retain our current faculty and staff for their contributions to the school, and to elevate
the quality of education the students receive and in what environment they receive it. I am considering
every financial option open to us to increase the amount of value we add to the school and the
community, and also the revenue we could receive from services and goods St. Mary’s could uniquely
provide. There are a number of exciting conversations I’ve had about these potentialities, and will be
sharing in future newsletters, depending on how they develop and actualize.

The alternative to this kind of growth, improvement and expansion is either decline or to keep things the
way they are, and I don’t see an appetite for either in anyone I’ve spoken to. Let us above all pray for St.
Mary’s to God, who has a plan for us, our community and our life, and has established such a community
to bring us closer to Himself, who is the ultimate good, truth, and beauty.

May Christ bless your weekend and bind us close to Him!
In Christ,
Tim Vail

October 15, 2021 Weekly Newsletter

Hello Saint Mary’s School community,

All that I meet in the community want the school to succeed and do well, and our students to learn, grow, and to be happy.  The purpose of my weekly letters are to update everyone on how the school is succeeding in its mission, what is going on, and to let you know what I’m doing as the principal.  

This week in talks with teachers, staff, Fr. Romeo, Fr. Mike and Mark Salisbury, I’ve discovered so many opportunities to make the school better.  One aspect is the building itself and upgrades, equipment and the use of resources and space.  Another is in the education and formation of the students.  Still another is growing and expanding the school in various ways, which includes re-opening a comprehensive pre-school program, hiring more faculty and staff and creating new teams and departments.  More ambitiously and long term, we’ve discussed  the potential for a St. Mary’s high school, and in the still longer term, perhaps a St. Mary’s college and even graduate school in the Sault to serve our students from pre-Kindergarten to Doctorate.  

The point at issue in many aspects is of school expansion is the need for contributions in terms of time, effort, and resources.  We need individuals who are passionate about creating an authentically Catholic school of exceptional quality.  We need people’s talent and treasure to make things happen and to achieve the vision we share.  The alternative is to keep on the current trend this recent year of downsizing in students, faculty and staff, but that is not what we want and is clearly not permissible.  

I would ask everyone to join the picnic next week on Thursday, Oct. 21st at 5 to 6:30 outside St. Mary’s school, to meet not only me in person if you haven’t, but also to enjoy the company of others in the community you might not always meet.  Parker’s Hardware is donating tents and Friends of St. Mary’s are catering food.

As an aside, pictures are in your student’s backpacks and picture day retakes will be held 11/03/2021 at 9:30 – 10:30am.  

Thank you and May God bless your weekend!
In Christ,
Tim Vail

October 8, 2021 Weekly Newsletter

Hello, Saint Mary’s Catholic School Community,

I’d like to give you a weekly update on the school.  A week has passed since my first day as Principal of St. Mary’s, and as I reflect on the events of this week, I see that so much has already been achieved academically, morally and spiritually before I came here, but I also see so much potential for the future.  The school is coming back to normal, step by step, after a year or so of anomaly and difficulty.  Despite trials of various kinds, I see that people are determined to move on with hope and grit, come what may. 
 
I believe the best times are yet to come, as we work together for a continuously better school than yesterday, and a lifestyle centered on God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.  We seek this lifestyle at St. Mary’s because God is the very cause of goodness and every other perfection we find in life.  St. Mary’s is no ordinary school, it is one in which everything is ultimately informed and measured by faith in this God.  Although we may encounter imperfections, as long as we focus on and pray to God who is the cause of perfection and truly Perfection Himself, we can have confidence that those imperfections will be brought closer and closer to perfection in, through and by Him.

Therefore, I exhort all in our community to look to God to perfect us, guide us, and to make St. Mary’s the best school divinely possible.

There will be a Fall picnic at St. Mary’s school on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 5:30 and all school families, staff and faculty are invited to meet together as a community and socialize.  Details about the picnic will be forthcoming.

I pray God to have mercy on us, bind up every wound and heal every illness,
In Christ,
Tim Vail

October 1, 2021 Weekly Newsletter

Hello, Saint Mary’s Catholic School Community!

I hope you are having a blessed Friday.  After this first week of walking around the school and meeting students, teachers, parents and staff, and today as my first official day as Principal, I have been very impressed with the community at St. Mary’s School.  This is a place of learning and spiritual formation that has potential to grow into something even better and of higher quality.  Parents, I hope that you will share your hopes and dreams for the future of the school and your child’s education with me and your teachers, so that we can work together to make St. Mary’s one of the best Catholic schools in the UP.  This is your school, there is a lot to be proud of already.  The school has already finished 5 weeks of school and we are nearing progress reports.  Good job to the students and their hard work and progress, and to the parents and teachers who supported them.  Let’s make it through the cold and flu season the best we can and safely, even though some of us will inevitably come down with something.  As my previous letter stated, there has been some exposure and quarantine in the local schools and area, so please consider that into your daily planning and routines.


I pray that St. Mary, our Patroness and Mother may keep us in her prayers, and that God may protect us from sickness and all evil, and lead us to Himself.  


Please feel free to contact me at any time with concerns, questions, ideas, or simply to be heard.

In Christ, Tim Vail

September 17, 2021 Weekly Newsletter

“Blessed the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 5:3)

Happy Friday, SMCS Community!

There will not be a school Mass on Thursday, September 23rd.  Fr. Mike and Fr. Romeo will be attending Convocation throughout the week. 

September 27th is Picture Day.  On Monday, the picture day order form will be sent home; please look for it in your child’s backpack.

School uniform exchange: although the school is not taking gently used uniforms at this time, there is a parent uniform “exchange” taking place on FB.  For further information, please contact Shannon Marone.  Thank you, Shannon!

Mrs. Miller will be away starting from Wednesday through the following week (September 22- October 1).  Her son will be undergoing surgery.  Please keep him and his family in your prayers.  Safe travels, Mrs. Miller.

Thank you for the birthday wishes last weekend, and thank you to so many who have reached out one way or another to say good-bye.  I will miss our amazing school.  Take care and God bless each of you, always. 

~Hedy Yanni

Looking Ahead:

Friday, September 24, is Color Day – students may dress out of uniform for a nominal fee of at least $0.25; funds collected support Unbound – child sponsorship charity.  SMCS supports a child who lives in Guatemala.

Monday, September 27, is Picture Day – FREE color dayTuesday,

October 5, Progress Reports Issued

Friday, October 8, No School, Teacher Professional Development Day

September 10, 2021 Weekly Newsletter

“You are my inheritance, O Lord.” 

(Psalm 16)

Good Afternoon St. Mary’s School Community and Happy Friday!

The school year started smoothly with everyone getting back into the groove.  Wednesday, Fr. Mike and Fr. Romeo led a Eucharistic Procession through the building blessing each room; Thursday, brought the first school Mass.

St. Mary’s is blessed with the following teachers and staff:


Kindergarten – Mrs. Lauren Andrews
1st Grade – Mrs. Joan Bauer
2nd Grade – Mrs. Karen Shackleton
3rd Grade – Mrs. Keri Stevens
4th Grade – Ms. Beth Walsh
5th Grade – Mrs. Colleen Bumstead; Sr. Peggy Fornicola, religion
6th Grade – Mr. Randy Pianosi, math; Mr. Kevin Fabry, science; Fr. Romeo Cappella, religion; Ms. Melissa Pianosi, ELA and Social Studies
7/8th Grade – Mr. Kevin Fabry, math 7; Mr. Pianosi, religion; Ms. Melissa Pianosi, math 8, remaining subjects, and Spanish
Reading Support – Sr. Peggy Fornicola
P.E. – Mrs. Heather Mitchell
Music – lower grades, Mrs. Miller; upper grades, Fr. Mike Chenier
Library and Social Emotional Coordinator – Mrs. Margaret Swedene
Computers and Title I – Mrs. Nancy Larsen, shared time teacher from the public school
Office Support – Ms. Karen Fornicola
Maintenance – Mr. Bill Gardner
Secretary – Mrs. Theresa Miller

If you would like to volunteer for recess, please let the office know.  Recess runs from 11:30 a.m. – 12:40 p.m. Monday-Friday.  Anyone who volunteers for the school must have a successful background check & completed Safe Environment training through the Diocese of Marquette and have  a successful DHS background check on file with the school before volunteering for tasks where students are present; please contact the office for further information.  Thank you.

Looking Ahead:
Friday, September 17, is Constitution Day.  Each class will have lessons regarding the Constitution.
Friday, September 24, is Color Day – students may dress out of uniform for a nominal fee of at least $0.25; funds collected support Unbound – child sponsorship charity.  SMCS supports a child who lives in Guatemala.
Monday, September 27, is Picture Day – FREE color day


God Bless,
Hedy

May 7, 2021 Weekly Newsletter

Happy Friday, SMCS Families!

Congratulations to our Jackpot Raffle Winners!  You may see the list here, and once more, thank you to everyone who made our raffle a success this year!  

We had May Crowning this week.  Below are a few photos from each Mass.  We also had our 6th grade students working on our school gardens this week.  Thank you, Mrs. Formolo, and class!

Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS)

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSA Act) provides $2.75 billion for the Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools (EANS) program, which is part of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.  Under the EANS program, the Department will award grants by formula to each Governor with an approved Certification and Agreement to provide services or assistance to eligible non-public schools to address the impact that the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had, and continues to have, on non-public school students and teachers in the State. https://oese.ed.gov/offices/education-stabilization-fund/emergency-assistance-non-public-schools/

I did apply for the EANS relief grant and the application has been approved.  This is very exciting news for our school.  Mind you, the MDE has not yet released the funding but the first step has taken place with the application being approved. The projected amount our school was granted is $80,612.  Funds have been allocated in the following ways: 
Reimbursement for some of our expenses from the current year: $14,987 
Fixing two broken windows: $1443
Touchless water filling stations (one for each floor!), touchless faucets, touchless flush units: $9300
Classroom document cameras, interactive whiteboards, student Chromebooks, teacher iPads: $39790
Online platforms to support remote learning: $3038
Third party part time classroom Assistant $12,047

School Building Upgrades

We are also looking at starting school building improvements this summer with the updating all four main bathrooms, blinds/shades in classrooms, blinds in gymnasium, and attic window upgrades.  All of these updates and additional equipment make for exciting times for SMCS! 

Both the planning of the EANS program and the school improvements were huge undertakings.  Thank you, Mr. Gardner for your assistance with gathering bids and materials! 

Home And School Association (HASA)

We are looking for individuals to take on HASA officer roles.  HASA is our parent organization that assists with planning and running events for our school.  HASA supports our teachers, staff, and students, and is a great way for parents to complete their volunteer hours while getting to know other amazing people within our school.  If you would like to get more involved, please let me know.  Please consider becoming an officer.  Thank you!

God bless all our mothers!  May each of you have a wonderful Mother’s Day with your family!  This is already a long newsletter, but I do not want any more time to pass without letting our school families know about next year.  I will not be returning for the 2021-2022 school year.  I will remain throughout my contract and wheels are in motion for finding a new principal.  On the teacher front, we have been actively searching for teachers and have some promising candidates.  God watches over our school, He has a plan, and it is always good.

With much gratitude for my time with SMCS,

~Hedy

Reminders

Recess Duty
Please continue signing up to assist with recess.  Please click here to sign up to help with monitoring recess.  Recess runs from 11:20-12:40 Monday – Friday.  The booking page is password protected for the safety of our students; please do not share it.  

Recess duty information may be found here.

SMCS Calendar at a Glance

May
Half Day: Friday, May 28th, staggered dismissal 10:30-11:00Memorial Day, No School: Monday, May 31st

June
Last Preschool-3rd Grade Mass: Wednesday, June 2nd
Last 4th-8th Grade Mass: Thursday, June 3rdGraduation Mass: TBD Last day of school: Friday, June 4th, Final Report Card issued & 10:30-11:00 a.m. staggered dismissalTeacher Work Days: June 7th-11th & 14th-15th
Kindergarten Roundup: Tuesday, June 8th 

Jackpot Raffle Sponsors

April 9, 2021 Weekly Newsletter

Happy Friday, SMCS Families, and Happy Easter, Alleluia! 

I hope you have been having a blessed Easter Week!  It’s good to be back in school during such a joyful time.

Please look for a Family Faith Pledge Card coming home today.  On behalf of our Catholic Identity Committee, each school family will receive this pledge card to assist with welcoming God into daily family life.

Our Preschool-3rd grade classes begin going to Mass next Wednesday, April 14th.  Our younger students will celebrate each Wednesday afternoon through the end of the school year!  Alleluia!  We will follow diocesan protocols when attending Mass.

Students in grades 2-8 will be taking a new religion assessment.  The testing window is April 12th-30th.  Each of these classes will take the Assessment of Religious Knowledge (ARK) over the next few weeks.  The purpose behind this test is to drive instruction and school improvement; it will let teachers know which areas students need further instruction.  Our teachers will also take the assessment, again for school improvement to drive adult catechesis. 

Jackpot raffle ticket sales are going well and going fast!  Thank you to all of our raffle ticket sellers!  Thank you to our raffle sponsors!  These next few weeks bring an even busier time in the office as we collect, count, and verify tickets and money; please keep sending in your sold tickets and funds, it helps immensely with verification.  It’s an exciting time, but a busy one as everyday school tasks continue as well as raffle prep taking place.

If you are looking for materials to use during the summer months to prevent summer learning loss, please consider Summer Solutions.  Please see this flyer for further information.  If you would like to place an order, use promo code SUMMER3 before April 30, 2021, and receive 10% off orders with 3 or more books.

SMCS 2020-2021 Yearbook orders may be placed.  Please see the order information sheet for further information.

Devine Mercy Sunday is this Sunday, April 11th.  This is a beautiful celebration.  Please see below for further information.  
 Have a great weekend, everyone! 

Reminders

Recess Duty

Please continue signing up to assist with recess.  Please click here to sign up to help with monitoring recess.  Recess runs from 11:20-12:40 Monday – Friday.  The booking page is password protected for the safety of our students; please do not share it.  

Recess duty information may be found here.

Student Absences

If your child(ren) will be absent, please contact the school no later than 9:00 a.m.  Either call the office, leave a message if necessary, or email the office/your child’s teacher.  We need to know your child is safe and to not expect him/her at school that day.

Diocese of Marquette or Parish
Divine Mercy Sunday
Holy Name of Mary Parish
April 11: Beginning with 2:00 p.m. Mass – please read here for further information.  
Please read about the origins of Divine Mercy Sunday here.

Taco Night fundraiser for St. Mary’s Parish.  Please see the taco night flyer for further information.

SMCS Calendar at a Glance

April
Color Day: Friday, April 30th, $0.25 minimum donation to dress out of uniform

May
Jackpot Raffle: Thursday, May 5th, drawing at 7:00 p.m.  The raffle will again this year be recorded and shared on our website and FB.  Once the recording has been posted, all winners will be called via phone.

Jackpot Raffle Sponsors