By: Nicole Miller, Holy Name Administrator

Greetings from your brothers and sisters in Ketchikan, where another great school year is upon us at Holy Name Catholic School. As is often the case when multiple tasks are going on at once, the summer seemed to pass quicker than usual for the faculty and volunteers of the school. God has certainly been keeping us busy with the addition of many new programing endeavors, building projects and professional development opportunities.

In the area of enrollment and staffing, we have some promising news! This year, we will welcome six new students to our K-6th grades and 16 to our preschool program. Among these additions are siblings of current students, who are making the transfer to us, as well as children of numerous young adult parishioners of Holy Name Church. In total, preschool through 6th grade has an enrollment of 76 students, up 17 from two years ago. As a result of our growing student population, we have been able to split our first and second grade combined class and have had the pleasure of welcoming Ms. Hazel Brewi to our staff as our second grade teacher. Ms. Brewi, who primarily grew up in Valdez, joins us from the Pribilof Islands school district where she taught last year.

In the area of academics, the science curriculum for grades one through six will be updated to a state of the art program based on the new Next Generation Science Standards which includes many hands on STEM activities and insights into the vast career opportunities available to our young people in the world of science. We are thankful to Wells Fargo Bank whose generous grant covered a portion of the cost for these new materials.

Our preschool program is also taking on a new look, with the addition of a full day option as well as a move to five days a week. As a ministry, it is our constant calling to get to know our families, to listen to their trials and joy, and, whenever possible, to respond to their needs. The full day option came after having heard the struggles of working parents in having to leave work to pick their child up from our half day program and arrange daycare for the remainder of the day, as well as their strong desire for their child to be in an environment such as ours for the entire day.

On the building end of things, we have been literally “torn apart” since the day after school ended in June due to a new sprinkler system installation project. Necessary in order for the school to be able to open for the 2017-2018 school year, the project has been long, expensive, and messy. While cosmetically we may not have a lot to show for the efforts made, the gift is that we can open our doors for another year! One perk of the project, however, is that as a result of having to access the piping in the main hallway, we were able to put up a fresh new ceiling and set of lights. After having re-carpeted and painted last year, the stained and broken ceiling was quite the eye sore to visitors. Parents have already noticed the difference and have joked that they have to remind themselves not to walk in the hall with their head in the air, taking in the beauty of such a simple yet significant upgrade. IMG_0528

While we continue to fundraise for such a large project, we are very grateful to the generous people of the Diocese of Dallas, who out of their love for Bishop Burns as well as Catholic education, have helped us cover a large portion of the cost of the sprinkler system.

The next major building project that has begun is the painting of the school’s exterior walls. Faded, chipped and peeling, much of the outside area of the building is in need of serious cosmetic attention. We are thankful to the St. Vincent College group that helped jump start the transformation while they were in Ketchikan on their summer mission trip. We are hoping excitement for the school’s beautification will inspire others to volunteer over the course of this next year in order to complete this much needed maintenance.

This brings us to the area of professional development and the exciting opportunities we have had this summer as well as those that will take place throughout the school year. In the spirit of the “last shall be first”, I humbly ask for your prayers as I return to the role of student and begin graduate studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. As a result of a grant from Catholic Extensions, I have the honor of joining 14 other leaders in Catholic schools across the country in studying first towards a certificate and then, God willing, continuing on to receive a master’s degree in Catholic School Leadership and Administration. While the subjects studied will range from the history and importance of Catholic education in America, to the ins and outs of marketing, management and financial stability, it has been refreshing to begin with the topic of “servant leadership”, a term often used to describe our Holy Father’s administrative techniques.

Our amazing teachers will also begin to have more and more opportunities for furthering education and growth as we begin to navigate the waters of Title IIA funding. An untapped resource for Holy Name School, the Ketchikan School District has been extremely helpful in assisting us with ensuring we receive the monies due to us by law as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). We look forward to all that we will learn, and bring back to our island school from the “lower 48” world of education.

On behalf of Fr. Pat, myself, and the entire staff at Holy Name church and school, thank you for your continued prayers and support as we seek to further the mission of Christ through the ministry of our Catholic school in Ketchikan. As always, please stop by and see us if you are ever in town, and know that you are in our school children’s prayers daily. Blessings!