Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

St. Peter gets set for its golden anniversary

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September will marks the 50th anniversary of St. Peter Catholic School in Olney, and many events and activities are planned throughout the year to commemorate the milestone.

‘‘This is a time for us to reach out to our alumni,” school spokeswoman Mary Schaeffer said. ‘‘We are planning several special events, including a reunion and our gala.”

The school will welcome 450 students, 66 of whom are new, when it opens for the year on Tuesday.

‘‘We’ve hired six new teachers and are happy to welcome them to our school, and to welcome all of our students back,” Schaeffer said.

The school now has a full-time counselor, who plans to implement several new programs.

‘‘Elaine Zagami will be running a group for our new students to help orient them to the school and to make them feel welcome,” Schaeffer said. ‘‘She will also have a book club for sixth grade girls, as well as other small groups, and will visit all the classes on a monthly basis in addition to meeting with students individually.”

Schaeffer said this would be the second year the students and their families will participate in fundraising activities, which help to keep tuition costs down.

‘‘Last year’s fundraising was very successful,” she added.

In Rockville, entertainment, a Mass with the archbishop and morning coffee for parents are some of the ways Catholic schools are welcoming the new school year.

All Montgomery County Catholic schools under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Washington will open on Tuesday.

St. Elizabeth School on Montrose Road will celebrate its first day of school with an opening day ceremony, which will include prayer, blessings, hymns and the cutting of the Ribbon of New Beginnings.

Principal Vincent Spadoni said teachers and staff are expecting one of the auxiliary bishops on that day, as well as representatives of U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) and U.S. Rep. Christopher Van Hollen Jr. (D-Dist. 8).

The next day, Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl will join the St. Elizabeth community for a back-to-school Mass at 9:30 a.m.

Also this year, St. Elizabeth will unveil its brand-new writing and technology lab for students in all grades, from kindergarten to eighth grade. The lab combines the use of 30 new laptop computers with English classes, focusing on writing papers and reports, Spadoni said.

St. Raphael School on Dunster Lane will add second grade this year. This will be the school’s second year in operation and principal Teri Dwyer said they will add a grade every year until eighth grade.

The first day of school at St. Raphael will begin with Mass at 9 a.m., followed by an open house, refreshments and local entertainment by Oh Susanna, who plays guitar and offers a sing-a-long with the children.

St. Jude School off Veirs Mill Road in Aspen Hill will hold orientation for its pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students on Friday. On the first day, the school is offering something new by having a welcome-back coffee for parents as they drop off their children for classes that morning.

At St. Jude, students in kindergarten through fifth grade will get to conduct science experiments in their new math and science lab opening this year.

‘‘Before they were doing experiments in the classroom and then had to clean up and move on to the next subject,” Anne Naccarato, administrative assistant, said. ‘‘Now they have time to go into the lab and do work, then come back the next day and continue working on it.”

Officials at St. Mary Catholic School on Veirs Mill Road in downtown Rockville said they had nothing to report and officials at St. Patrick Catholic School in Norbeck Road did not return a call seeking comment.

On Monday, principals, faculty and staff from the 105 archdiocesan and independent schools gathered in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., to kick off the new school year.

Following the Mass, a ceremony was held to recognize principals, teachers and schools celebrating their anniversaries this year.

Archdiocesan and independent schools educate nearly 32,000 students in Washington, D.C., and Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties in Maryland.