A Week with Strength

Jan.26- Feb. 1, 2006
A Week with Strength
By St. Patrick’s School , Oneida , staff
SUN photo(s) submitted
Madison County’s Catholic School Gears up for Celebration

ONEIDA — Character, compassion and values are emphasized each and every day at St. Patrick’s, the Catholic elementary school that serves all of Madison County and parts of Oneida County as well.

As the school gears up for its annual Catholic Schools Week observation, beginning Jan. 30, character, compassion and values will be at the forefront of the celebration. As part of the celebration, each class has selected an author’s works to study. The students will focus on how the author shows character, compassion and values. During the week, each class will give a presentation on its author and some of his/her work during a special assembly. The school has also invited special guest readers to read to each class.

Principal Peg Brown said a highlight of the week each year is the Kids’ Carnival and Open House, which is open to the public and gives families who might be curious about St. Patrick’s the opportunity to tour the school and meet the teachers. “Our carnival is a wonderful event each year because it is a fun event for the children of the community, but it also allows parents who are interested in learning more about our school to come and see all that we have to offer for themselves,” she said. Registration will get underway in the coming weeks, Brown said, adding that interest in the school is so high that there are already families who have indicated they will be sending their children to St. Patrick’s in September.

Anyone who would like more information about the school’s Pre-K through sixth grade programs, should call Miss Brown at (315) 363-3620.

St. Pat’s new pre-k meets needs of area children

Deciding where and when to send a young child to school can be difficult, as parents ponder whether their child is ready for school and which school will provide the best elementary education. St. Patrick’s School in Oneida has been providing an exceptional education to children for more than 75 years, but when the school opened its doors this past September, it made history with its unique pre-k program!

St. Patrick’s pre-k program was designed to fill a great void in Madison County and the western portion of Oneida County, said Principal Peg Brown. “St. Patrick’s School has always been the choice of parents who wanted a great education in a loving environment for their children,” said Brown, “and we wanted to offer families in our area even more options when we decided to add a pre-k program.” “One thing parents let us know loud and clear was that they wanted a program that provided them with options so they could make decisions based on what was best for their child,” she said.

With that in mind, St. Patrick’s School began to formulate a pre-k program that would let parents decide what schedule would best fit the needs of their children. The pre-k program allows parents to opt for a full-day program five days a week or if they feel that schedule is too much for their child, there is the option of mornings only. St. Patrick’s also welcomed 3-year-olds in a program that is offered two days a week. What also makes the pre-k program unique is that parents who have a 5-year-old who is not ready for kindergarten are welcome to opt for the school’s pre-k program. That would not be an option in a public school.

St. Patrick’s pre-k program is a structured program that stresses age-appropriate academics. Children learn early reading and math skills as well as fine motor skills. Teacher Jennifer Stagnitta provides instruction in math, reading and phonics in the mornings so that the children who only attend half days benefit as well. In just its first year of operation, the pre-k program at St. Patrick’s has already gained an excellent reputation Brown would not have settled for less. “St. Patrick’s is well known for our outstanding academic programs,” she said, adding that the school’s students consistently score the best of any fourth graders in the area on the state’s English Language Arts exams. “We did not want our pre-k program to be a daycare center. We wanted it to be an extension of our excellent academic program,” she said. “Our pre-k program allows parents to tailor a schedule that is the best fit for their child, and yet it is designed to give all of the children, regardless of their age or schedule a solid foundation for their elementary education.”

Teaching the true meaning of Christmas

At a time when many public schools worried about singing carols that had the word “Christmas” in them and lawmakers debated whether to start calling Christmas trees holiday trees, St. Patrick’s School in Oneida was taking great strides to teach the true meaning of Christmas to its students. St. Patrick’s, which is the only Catholic elementary school in Madison County, has always made the birth of Jesus the focus of its Christmas celebrations, but this year the school took extra strides to teach its young students that Christmas is about sharing blessings and reaching out to those in need. The school launched several special projects over the holiday season to help those in need. In November the school held a food drive day where students who brought in a canned good could wear casual clothes instead of their traditional uniform for the day. The children’s response was tremendous.

“I saw very few students in uniform that day, and I saw a lot of canned goods,” said Principal Peg Brown. The children filled more than four-bushel baskets that were given to the food pantry at St. Patrick’s Parish. Parting with some cans of vegetables may not have seemed like much of a sacrifice to the children, but the school’s next community project certainly did involve a sacrifice on the part of the children.

St. Patrick’s School joined forces with a local radio station, WMCR Radio and the Nye Automotive Group, for the annual Share A Caring Christmas campaign, which has been held for years in Oneida. Through this program, children are encouraged to part with gently used toys that are then distributed to needy families throughout the greater Oneida area. Brown explained the project to the children and simply asked each child to part with one toy that they did not play with much any more so that it could be given to a poor child. Again, the children’s response surprised the principal, who watched child after child come into school with bags full of wonderful toys to place under the school’s Christmas tree. The students donated so many toys that the Nye Automotive Group had to send a large van to St. Patrick’s School to pick up all of the toys left under the tree.

“I was so proud of our students,” she said. “You could tell that some of the toys they were leaving under the tree still meant a great deal to them, but they were willing to sacrifice for someone less fortunate.” The school also had a mitten tree this year that gave families of St. Patrick’s School the opportunity to help members of their own school community. The tree was filled with mittens with specific requests for families in need at the school. The items ranged from uniform pants to a special toy requested by the child. The mitten tree was available to families on parent night, and again Brown was overwhelmed by the generosity and consideration of the school community. “My office was filled with gifts from the mitten tree and the families we could help were very grateful,” she said. The spirit of Christmas was also shared with residents of the local nursing home when the school’s Parent Teacher Club organized a night of Christmas caroling at the facility. Dozens of families from St. Patrick’s School visited the Oneida Healthcare Center’s Extended Care Facility to sing carols and share fellowship with the residents.

The event was a huge success as the residents enjoyed the caroling and getting to spend some time talking to the children. Brown said she is very proud of how the students responded to these projects. “I think we learned even more this year about the true meaning of Christmas,” she said. “I am confident that we are helping to instill values in these children that will help them to become better adults. “As a school we have been very blessed over the last few years by generous benefactors and others who have donated financially to the school or who have kept us in their prayers,” Brown said. “We are pleased that this Christmas season we could share our blessings with others.”

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