In with the New

Nov. 3-9, 2005
In with the New
By St. James School Staff/ SUN contributing writers
SUN photo(s) submitted
St. James Middle School is a Real Community JOHNSON CITY — George Clancy, principal at St. James Middle School in Johnson City, reports, “The new academic year is off to a great start… with bright-eyed students, loads of energy, excitement… and perhaps unlike any parish in the land… we have two new priests — who are very talented!” Father John Donovan and Father Joseph O’Connor have begun their duties with the Parish of St. James, which also includes a daily run, meaning at least one personal visit to the St. James school building. St. James Middle School holds school-wide Masses and prayer services throughout the year, involving all of the students with an open invitation to families. Teachers Terri Barnes and Amata Miller collaborate with Father Donovan to arrange these events which involve students and makes these events special and meaningful.

On St. Francis’ feast day each year students and families at St. James bring their pets to school for a blessing from our Priest. “Students love having their priests around and involved in the daily happenings of the school,” reports Clancy. “Both of these gentlemen have jumped right in. They are leading the way, making time in their busy schedules and are getting to know the kids and their families!”

In addition to new priests, St. James Middle School welcomes a new health, physical education, and intramurals teacher in Kevin Novotny, a recent graduate of Canisius College. Novotny recently co-hosted the area’s NFL Punt Pass and Kick contest which has sent one student to the regional finals in Buffalo. Novotny adds his flair to the academic environment with a keen focus on fitness and health. The largest events to date this year have been the annual family picnic co-sponsored with the PTO of St. Thomas Aquinas Elementary School and the St. James curriculum nights. Both programs have also been very well attended.

The family picnic brings together nearly 300 families who really look forward to celebrating the start of the new year, while the curriculum nights provide parents with a test of the classroom setting and the menu of specific subject area items that will be covered this academic school year. The school strives to exceed NYS testing and curricular expectations and does so daily! These family-oriented events demonstrate significant parent interest involving up to 75 percent of the families on a regular basis.

Working together with its sister school, St. Thomas, families strengthen their own students’ understanding of cooperation and teamwork by developing and coordinating such activities. Sister Anne Horrigan, the librarian at St. James Middle School, has recently completed fifty years of religious life and service for the people of the Diocese of Syracuse and to her religious order, the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Over her 50 years of service, 25 of these years with the Catholic schools of Broome County, Sister Anne has collected many honors. This year, the students, faculty and parishioners of St. James issued the highest honor to her by dedicating the school library in her name, while she’s still actively involved in the lives and the minds of the St. James learning environment. Sister Ann’s presence will live on forever in the Sister Anne Library!

Like many other schools in the diocese, St. James is practicing fire drills, emergency procedures and working to help students adjust to being back in the groove of active learning and thinking about helping others. Understanding the importance of good character and good study habits is also a daily practice that lives on, long after classes and homework are complete.

Student athletes at St. James Middle School are perfect examples of working to balance “Head-Heart-Soul.” Students work to get their classroom assignments completed often before they run off to practice, while if homework is not done, that evening around the kitchen table or in their own rooms, student athletes learn persistence and dedication and almost always live up to the expectations of their parents and their teachers. It’s a joy to watch them grow!

Clubs and organizations are a big deal at St. James Middle School! Teachers and parents give of their valuable time to host regular meetings, practices and discussions, many of them weekly throughout the academic year, personally investigating interests and developing useful and productive skills and hobbies. This year St. James Middle School will again co-sponsor chorus, punt, Y.E.S., NFL Punt, Pass & Kick, scrapbooking, Science/Technology Club, Chess & Computer, intramurals, yearbook, Student Senate, Architectural Awareness, a newspaper, ski club, and Odyssey of the Mind.

Bagpipes and the music associated with them have been an extraordinary and quite interesting “hit” with many of the students and families at St. James. Bagpipes first arrived at graduation three years ago and now students have expressed an interest in carrying on this tradition. Lessons are given weekly at Seton Catholic Central on Monday evenings.

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