Schools plan for new buildings, expanded preschool

| August 18, 2016 | 0 Comments


The Catholic Spirit asked Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to share what’s new for the 2016-17 academic year. The following is a selection of their responses.

  • Construction will soon be underway at St. Agnes School in St. Paul on the Helene Houle Auditorium, with completion expected in early 2017. The new 7,000-square-foot space is the second phase of the Ubel Activity Center, which opened last year, and was made possible with a lead gift from John Nasseff and Helene Houle.
  • A new garden at St. Jude of the Lake Catholic School is designed to attract monarch butterflies and foster their development. The garden doubles as an outdoor classroom where students can study habitats, environmental change, life-cycles and migration.
  • Notre Dame Academy in Minnetonka has added a 3-year-old program to its Young Scholars prekindergarten program, as well as a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) course for middle school students.
  • Nativity of Mary in Bloomington has expanded its preschool program, adopted a National Geographic-based science program and incorporated a responsive classroom model, which aims to help students develop democratic skills such as empathy, inclusion of others and taking turns.
  • Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield is issuing students a Dell Chromebook; offering a new STEM course on the fundamentals of forensic science, DNA technology and environmental engineering; and adding new emphasis on creating a positive student environment.
  • Seventh- and eighth-grade students from Holy Cross in Webster and Most Holy Redeemer in Montgomery will travel to Washington, D.C., in October for the first of what is expected to be a biannual trip to the nation’s capitol.
  • Holy Family Academy in St. Louis Park is starting a prekindergarten 3-year-old program, adding to its existing 4-year-old program. All early childhood classes will now use the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Montessori-based program. The school also is continuing its implementation of a classical curriculum by having students in grades two through five study Latin.
  • In its first year, Minneapolis-based nonprofit Catholic Schools Center of Excellence helped launch or expand 55 preschool programs across the archdiocese; distributed technology grants to more than 70 schools; granted 50 scholarships to principals and teachers for the 2016-2018 Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute in St. Paul; launched a new magazine, which is available at every archdiocesan grade school; and spent more than $5 million to help archdiocesan grade schools in a variety of ways. “So many of these schools have had great financial needs for a long time, so it’s been good to invest in their future,” said CSCOE President Gail Dorn. “And we want more children to be able to enroll in Catholic schools.” On Sept. 22, CSCOE will host a Mass of the Holy Spirit for all fourth- through eighth-grade Catholic school students at CHS Field in St. Paul.

New leadership

  • Sylvia Beevas-Smith is the new principal of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis.
  • Charles Briscoe is the new president and principal of Bethlehem Academy in Faribault. He previously served as principal of Hill-Murray School in Maplewood.
  • Kelly Roche is the new principal of St. Joseph School in Rosemount, her alma mater, where she has also taught for 15 years.
  • Nikki Giel is the new principal of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Maplewood. She is a former student of the school and has taught there for 10 years. She succeeds Peter Noll, who retired earlier this year.
  • Brian Edel is the new upper school director at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights. Erick Rome is the new dean of students, and Michelle Mechtel is the new director of academic life. Both are newly created positions at the school.
  • Tim Reilly is the new principal at Our Lady of Peace in Minneapolis.
  • Tom Donlon is the new principal at St. Hubert in Chanhassen.


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