It is always “a great day to be a saint”! And this year at St. Mary on the Hill Catholic School (SMCS), that mantra which the students hear every day on the loudspeaker, in the classrooms, during assemblies, and beyond, rings particularly true as we begin the 2023-24 school year! This new year brings plenty of exciting changes and an increased awareness of and passion for our mission at SMCS — to help our children become saints!
“Our main focus as a school is to form the children — first spiritually and then academically,” says Principal Todd Shafer. “It is important to us that the students see the connection between their life at church and their life at school. It is more about living the faith we profess than it is about academics — although academics are huge for us as well here at St. Mary’s.”
In an effort to continue emphasizing faith-fueled living and learning, Mr. Shafer says he is excited to keep many of the elements that intertwine our school and parish alive and well as the new school year gets underway.
“We will have altar servers go down to the church during the school day to serve at funerals,” Mr. Shafer says. “The kids really enjoy that. In addition, it is important to me that we continue to have a big priest presence here daily. I am thrilled the Fr. Nate is so excited to be involved in the school, and I look forward to having him here in addition to Fr. Ross and Fr. Solomon.
“I believe it is our job to serve our students, to fuel their fire for the faith and to get them more involved in the life of the Church,” he adds. “We want them to know that Christ is the center of their lives and the Church is here for them. They are an important part of the Church.”
In addition, Mr. Shafer is quick to note the academic success and the continued work therein at SMCS. Recognizing that God created us — body, mind, and spirit — Mr. Shafer says the faculty and staff at SMCS want to ensure that the students are served accordingly, by offering our children excellent academics even as they focus on the faith.
“We are constantly improving things academically,” Mr. Shafer says. “We don’t want to stay stagnant, so we are in constant improvement mode. We’ve hired some new teachers this year whom I think will be incredible additions to our team, and we’ve moved a few teachers around into roles that better suit their expertise. I believe these changes will bring great improvements to the academic atmosphere at the school.”
What’s more, concerned about every aspect of our students’ lives, Mr. Shafer says the summertime was spent replacing all the internal doors at the school with metal ones.
“These doors will offer our students and staff more safety during the school day,” Mr. Shafer says. “After all the school shootings we saw throughout the country in the last few years, we wanted to do all we could to ensure a safer environment for our children, and the metal doors are a big part of that. The doors are self-locking as well. So if, God-forbid, we were to find ourselves in an active shooter situation, all students and staff would be behind locked metal doors, providing them more safety.”
Mr. Shafer says he and the rest of the SMCS staff want to make sure that all SMCS families feel safe sending their children here, knowing that our staff is determined to love, protect, and serve all of the children as best they can!
The 2023-24 school year started on Aug. 7, as 503 students were welcomed to our campus for a year that’s certain to be full of faith-filled learning and Christ-like love. SMCS is truly a school family, and as this new year gets underway, Mr. Shafer says he is excited to see how the students continue to learn and grow together.
It really is a great day to be a saint — today and every day!
For more information about St. Mary on the Hill Catholic School, please visit stmaryssaints.org.