Cedarcrest Academy in Maple Grove is celebrating Catholic Schools Week in a special way — with a new name: Ave Maria Academy.
During an all-school Mass on Feb. 2 to honor the solemnity of the Presentation, Father Peter Laird, vicar general for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, was to announce the school’s new name to students, faculty, staff and school families.
Ave Maria Academy was the name chosen in a process that began last October and involved all members of the Cedarcrest Academy community. When the pre-K-8 school was launched 15 years ago, the Cedarcrest name was selected for the market-based Catholic school, meaning it has no affiliation with a parish or religious order.
Last May, the school received its formal designation as a Catholic school in the archdiocese, which prompted discussion about a name change.
“We have a strong Catholic identity as well as a long-standing Marian tradition at our school,” said principal Jason Slattery. “Since our school began, our students gather together every morning to say the rosary. So, when we originally asked our community for nominations, the only stipulation we had was that the suggestions needed to be Marian titles.”
Entire community involved
Mary Larson, music specialist for the school, said all students, faculty and staff members, along with school parents, were allowed to suggest one nomination. More than 80 percent of school families participated; 100 percent of faculty and staff members offered suggestions.
“By December, there were seven top names based on frequency of nomination,” Larson said. “Mr. Slattery spent a great deal of time talking to the students about the meaning behind all seven of the names. He advised them very evenly and fairly.”
On Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, it was time for the school’s 165 students (from the 3-year-old preschoolers to eighth-graders) to cast a vote, using ballots that Larson created. They were instructed to make only one choice and from there, the top three — Ave Maria, Queen of Angels and Mater Dei — were selected.
Ave Maria made “a strong showing” and led by close to 60 votes, Slattery said. It was also the name most frequently nominated by families and students in the school.
The board of directors then made the final decision, after consultation with marketing advisers and members of the archdiocese, including Marty Frauenheim, superintendent of Catholic schools.
More changes coming
“The archdiocese, and Archbishop [John] Nienstedt, have given us a lot of support throughout this process,” Slattery said. “We have really appreciated their leadership and know how much they care about our students.”
The middle school choir, under the direction of Larson, prepared several musical selections for the Feb. 2 Mass, perhaps most notably a Gregorian chant version of “Ave Maria” for the Communion meditation.
Along with the name change and a recent re-working of the mission statement, Slattery said the school will also be rolling out a new logo and other marketing materials by the end of this academic year. In May, Archbishop Nienstedt is scheduled to celebrate Mass at Ave Maria Academy.
Other changes are also in the works — during the school’s annual gala on Feb. 4, plans for a new campus building will be unveiled. Currently, the school uses two leased spaces.
“We have reached a point where we need our own space and the geographic area around us is growing,” said Slattery, who added there is no projected date for the new building project yet. “It is a very hopeful time for us.”
Category: Catholic Schools Week