Learning to do good


IMG_0872By Elizabeth Tantillo
Contributing writer and school principal

CLINTON — St. Mary’s School, located in the picturesque village of Clinton and also home to Hamilton College, presents a unique opportunity in Catholic education. St. Mary’s was founded in 1965 as a parish school and 30 years later became a diocesan school of the Eastern Region of the Diocese of Syracuse. The school is old enough that the first alumni are now sending their children. St. Mary’s Mission is to nurture the God-given potential of its students in a family-oriented environment.

The school offers an enhanced curriculum with instruction in technology, Spanish, art, library, physical education, choral and instrumental music for grades pre-K through sixth. Class size is intimate with an average of 15 students. Resources for advancement and remedial studies are available. Most important is the school’s emphasis on Catholic identity and Christian values. St. Mary’s offers cross country, track and basketball teams for grades three to six. Kindergarteners through second grade can learn how to play basketball in a parent-led program. Students can participate in clubs for stamps, crafts, animals and Spanish culture.

St. Mary’s School is known for academic excellence, as noted in the N.Y. State standardized tests. For many years,  students have excelled and placed in the highest quadrants in the state and county in English, math, science and social studies. St. Mary’s is accredited by the Middle States Association for Elementary Education. It is not uncommon for St. Mary’s alumni to be valedictorians or salutatorians at many local high schools, annually.

St. Mary’s students and families are known for generous charitable giving to the community and the world. Monthly “dress down days” typically contributes over $5,000 annually to a variety of causes. Already in this school year, the students have dressed down for United Way, a local emergency room, a new school building in Cambodia, and the neighborhood food pantry. Over a dozen Thanksgiving meals, supplies for an urban family shelter, a winter clothing drive (which produced literally over 100 articles of clothing — mostly coats, boots, snow pants, etc.) and cards or letters to area nursing homes are standard activities driven by our values-based education.

St. Mary’s sixth graders have educated the younger students with the monthly “Virtues Program” for several years. In 2006-07, the theme was the corporal works of mercy. This year’s theme is a study of the parables with the Good Samaritan parable at the center. Students can be chosen for a monthly “Good Samaritan” award by their teachers, and get caught being a Good Samaritan with a coupon that recognizes good acts throughout the school day. The intention of putting faith into concrete acts of goodness has shaped St. Mary’s into a caring, positive place. It is also a uniquely happy school with an experienced faculty and staff dedicated in word and deed to provide not only a superb academic orientation but one enhanced by Christian values.

Admission for the 2008-09 school year begins soon. Anyone interested in St. Mary’s as an educational experience can contact the office of St. Mary’s School, 5 Prospect Street, Clinton, N.Y. 13323;
e-mail: etantillo@syrdiocese.org
(Principal); phone: 315-853-6196.

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