Breakfast and Mass welcome community to St. Mary’s during Catholic Schools Week
By Joy Marquardt
TOMAHAWK – “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed” is the theme of National Catholic Schools Week, observed Jan. 26 through Feb. 1 at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Tomahawk.
Established in 1916, St. Mary’s is celebrating more than 100 years of serving the Tomahawk community and beyond, enrolling more than 80 students in preschool though grade five. The school is supported by the parishes of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Tomahawk, St. Francis Catholic Church in Pier Willow and St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Harrison.
“It’s so much fun seeing the school families and parishes coming together during Catholic Schools Week,” said Principal Rita Lee. “I really enjoy the fellowship.”
To kick off Catholic Schools Week, the school hosted a celebratory Mass at 8 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at St. Mary’s, followed by a fellowship and fundraising event at the Silver Birch Supper Club near Tomahawk.
“The owner of Silver Birch has two daughters who attend St. Mary’s and she approached us about doing an event,” Lee said. “She is very much into giving back to the community and it (was) a great way to kick off Catholic Schools Week.”
The event, called Silver Birch After Church, began at 9 a.m. with breakfast specials, raffles and prizes, a Bloody Mary bar and piano music performed by alumni of St. Mary’s. Faculty and staff were on hand to visit with patrons and serve food and beverages.
To coincide with the National Day of Giving, students from St. Mary’s traveled to St. Augustine’s Catholic Church on Tuesday, Jan. 28, for a 10 a.m. Mass in support of Catholic education. Other activities during the week include an all school retreat, Book Fair, special dress up days and a Spelling Bee, with the winners advancing to regional competition.
St. Mary’s will join students from three other Catholic schools in the Diocese of Superior for a special Mass with Bishop James Powers on Thursday, Jan. 30, at Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Rhinelander. Students will also participate in a Penny War between the schools, with proceeds going to sponsor a veteran in the Never Forgotten Honor Flight.
The week concludes with Grandparents Day on Friday, Jan. 31, with Mass, a hamburger bar, bingo and other activities.
“The kids always look forward to Grandparents Day,” said kindergarten teacher Lindsay Albright. “The grandparents attend Mass with the kids, and after Mass the kids get to show them their school. If the kids don’t have a grandparent we have volunteers who come in so each child has a person to spend time with and to show them where they eat, learn and where they pray.”
As a teacher, sharing her faith is important to Albright, who incorporates the importance of prayer and service to others into the school day.
“We start our day off with Morning Prayer and all the students have a chance to share a prayer request,” she said. “We have a prayer chain on the wall and it will go all the way around the school cafeteria by the end of the year.”
Albright’s class has visited with residents of the Milestone Assisted Living Center in Tomahawk, helped make blankets for the American Red Cross and decorated luminary bags in memory of loved ones as a service to the community.
“I hope my students gain awareness that everyone is special,” Albright said. “We might not all look the same or dress the same, but God loves us all the same. He made us all special.”
Jess Kato of Tomahawk has a daughter enrolled in Albright’s class at St. Mary’s and enjoys the welcoming and caring atmosphere of the school.
“My daughter just loves the school,” Kato said. “The teachers are amazing and I love that it’s super family-oriented. I feel very heard and listened to and cared for at the school.”
Kato volunteers at the school each week, knowing that her daughter is able to experience the same aspect of community service in her classroom.
“My hope is that she is learning it doesn’t matter how old you are or if we are male or female, people are all created in God’s image and we need to love them,” she said. “We are all God’s kids and we are all his servants.”
The public is invited to attend the school’s annual Father/Daughter Dance on Feb. 7 and the Spring Gala on April 24 at Inshalla Country Club in Tomahawk. Other public events include a Mother/Son Event on Feb. 21 and Spring Fling Concert on April 29.
“It’s been a great year at St. Mary’s so far,” Lee said. “We are truly a family here, in every aspect of the word.”
Enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year is currently open to all St. Mary’s students and members of the three supporting parishes. Open registration for the community begins Feb. 10 at the school.
For more information about St. Mary’s, call 715-453-3542.