Piqua Catholic School Establish Sense of Community as School Year Begins
By Terry D. Wright
For the Daily Call
PIQUA — Last Friday, the 17 experienced and new teaching staff members of Piqua Catholic School assembled in St. Mary Church for the Holy Day Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven and heard words of thanksgiving and encouragement for a new school year from Fr. Angelo Caserta, Mass celebrant.
Fr. Caserta thanked the Piqua Catholic School teaching staff seated directly in front of the pulpit for their dedication to serving the educational, values and moral needs of the children entrusted into their care. Additionally, Fr. Caserta reminded the instructors never to forget that they were the surrogate parents for the students while entrusted into their care and that the parents were the surrogate care givers and providers for the children given to them by God.
“Father hit the nail on the head when he said that at Mass this morning,” agreed Piqua Catholic School’s new principal Georgia M. Hertenstein when addressing her entire teaching staff in the North St. campus’ cafeteria following early morning Mass. “We are a sense of community and we need to keep our parents involved in their children’s education.”
“We are experiencing a Renaissance of rebirth of our school while moving forward as a sense of community,” Hertenstein emphasized. Our parents are our employers and we can’t be successful without a close relationship with our parents while providing education for the children,” she added.
The principal encouraged and demanded her teachers to be consistent throughout the year with parent involvement and frequent contact concerning the pupils’ needs, successes, assistance and encouragement.
Pastor of St. Mary and St. Boniface parishes Fr. Thomas Bolte addressed the teachers and staff of Piqua Catholic School thanking them for sharing their faith, academics and values with the children. “It is a new school year and please have fun,” said Fr. Bolte, noting the importance of a happy environment for everyone while learning.
Fr. Bolte explained to the staff about the liturgy, Mass schedules, and the sacrament preparations for the Catholic students attending the school. He also described the nursing home person program where students are introduced to a nursing home resident whom they communicate with and pray for throughout the school year.
The pastor of St. Mary Parish emphasized that no family should be turned away from Piqua Catholic School because of financial challenges. “Both parishes, St. Boniface and St. Mary have agreed to help with this,” Fr. Bolte said. He added that both parishes would help to work out economic situations for families who could not afford student’s cost of attending Piqua Catholic School.
Sometime in the future, Fr. Bolte noted, St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus, Covington, would become part of the St. Boniface and St. Mary family. The Covington parish would be either pastored by Fr. Bolte or an assistant, not yet determined by the Cincinnati Archdiocese. “Regardless,” Fr. Bolte stated, “we should be encouraging the residents of Covington to send their children to Piqua Catholic School.”
After the meeting, teachers busily discussed curriculum, ideas and programs eager for the new school year, which began Tuesday. Amy Woehrmyer, teacher for seventh grade Religion, fifth, sixth and seventh grade math and 5th grade science teacher explained that many of her classes’ successful programs in the past would be continued. “In math the students establish goals and play against each other in challenges,” she said. “Those classes include multiplication, division and the seventh-graders take pre-Algebra.”
Woehrmyer added that there would be a Science Fair this year with the older grades six and eight exhibiting a demonstration board and research paper. “The fifth-graders will be dissecting earth worms this year and the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students dissect frogs or star fish,” she said.
Public service projects are also incorporated into the religion classes such as the 7th graders’ annual clothing drive. Last year’s students had a goal of 150 pieces of clothing to donate to the Bethany Center and exceeded that goal by collecting 420 articles of clothing for the needy.
Pam Canady the Health/Physical Education teacher reported “Grant money from the Pepsi Refresh Grant and added donations have been instrumental in securing physical exercise programs for students.” The physical education part of the grant money was written into the Pepsi Refresh Grant, she said. Additionally, Heather Sever, Fitness Instructor at the YMCA has been recruited for a great after-school fitness program as part of a grant received by Piqua Catholic Schools. Finally, Ryan Vest, CrossFit trainer for students will also hold strengthening sessions for after-school students on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the nominal cost of $3 per pupil per session.
Heather Ritts, fifth and seventh grade Language Arts teacher and sixth and seventh grades Social Studies teacher has noted that new social studies books this year will initiate a lot of hands-on projects and programs. “For instance,” said Ritts, “the students will construct a time capsule and discuss all of the different artifacts that would go into it.” She emphasized that the pupils would notice and examine what types of things people did, how devices change over time and how societies are altered as a result.