Oct. 20-26, 2005
By Linda DePhillips/ SUN contributing writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
CLINTON — This year marks the 40th year of providing excellent elementary education for St. Mary’s School in Clinton, New York. A year of celebration began on Friday, Sept. 16. Father John Croghan celebrated Mass with Father Vincent Kelly and Father Joseph Salerno concelebrating for this special occasion.
Sister Rita Michael, the principal and fourth grade teacher of the school when the doors opened in Sept.1965, as well as other former principals Sister Maureen Joseph, Mrs. Patricia Dawes and Mr. Phillip Fragale participated in the ceremony. Many former teachers, parents, alumni and supporters of the school were in attendance. Music was provided by the exuberant school chorus. A reception was held in the school library following Mass. At the conclusion Mass it was announced by Linda M. DePhillips, current principal, that the school has forged a partnership with St. Joseph’s School in Shreveport, La. This is a school that has taken in 88 children from the New Orleans area that have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Father Croghan quoted from Father Kelly’s book, Never Left Unaided, describing what life what life was like in St. Mary’s Parish at the inception of the school. The Sisters of St. Joseph furnished the textbooks and much of the classroom furniture. Families in the parish were asked to donate “one day’s pay a month for 36 months” to help fund the initial cost projection for the school building which was $175,000.
The school originally welcomed 141 students in grades one through four with an additional grade added each subsequent year with kindergarten being the final addition in 1969. For many years it housed more than 30 children per grade, kindergarten through eighth. The middle was eventually centralized at the Notre Dame Campus on Burrstone Road in Utica and in the 1990’s the school was incorporated into the diocesan school system. Today the school has 150 children enrolled in kindergarten through sixth grade and also operates a pre-k for four year olds.
St. Mary’s has a proud tradition of offering an excellent academic and religious education. In addition to the traditional curriculum, the students are blessed to receive instruction in art, music, Spanish and library skills. Technology is being incorporated into all subject matter through the use of wireless laptop computers. All this is possible due to the dedicated support of both St. Mary’s School Commission and the PTA. The parents have been the fabric that has held this institution together for the past
40 years. The legacy that has been so generously left by families, teachers, clergy and supporters through the last 40 years will continue well into the future and many more anniversaries will be celebrated.