Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Lauren McKinney-Craig and Michaela Carter of Nativity School get encouraged by former Trailblazer Jerome Kersey.
Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Lauren McKinney-Craig and Michaela Carter of Nativity School get encouraged by former Trailblazer Jerome Kersey.
St. Cecilia, Beaverton
Here is a poem submitted by St. Cecilia School.
Cool, crisp mornings
Warm, vibrant sun
The transition to Fall,
and the start of a new school year,
has begun.
Students, parents, family, and friends,
returning and new,
St. Cecilia School teachers and staff welcome you.
Refreshing projects and changes you’ll see:
The playground’s now fully enclosed with fencing and locking gates
for our students’ safety and security.
The old, testy boiler was turned off to finally “rest in peace.”
A new HVAC system was installed
so temperatures in “each” classroom can now be adjusted with ease.
RenWeb, our school information system, is new
featuring improved functionality and communications for our teachers, staff, and you.
A pioneering, cutting-edge leader in 21st century technology learning, our school’s been featured in the news.
Results from our NOOK pilot project, “Operation:  Lighten Your Load,” were honorable and favorably viewed.
So, BYOT is the enhanced technology acronym and vision for seventh and eighth grade students this year.
“Bring Your Own Tablet,” digital textbook program, is a smart, health-conscious required piece of school gear.
While St. Cecilia School’s academics and co-curricular offerings in state-of-the-art labs and learning centers are known for excellence, it’s true —
enrichment opportunities, middle school electives, and educational assemblies to benefit and further develop the whole student are continually pursued.
New and exciting to enrich curriculum this school year, I think you’ll agree —
“Oregon Trail Overnight” and “JA BizTown” for fourth and fifth grade students, respectively.
Middle school electives have been expanded to include more —
Drawing, watercolor, photography 101, and technical theater are being offered for students to explore.  
Last, but not least, our community of students, PK-8, will benefit directly as a group
with some new, on-site assemblies featuring OMSI, the Portland Opera, and Oregon Shakespeare troupe.  

Marist High, Eugene
EUGENE — The National Honor Society held an annual awards assembly in the school gym last spring.
The Champagnat Service Award went to one boy and one girl in each grade 9-12 who demonstrated the spirit of service exemplified by St. Marcellin Champagnat, founder of the Marist Brothers. Awardees are evaluated on service activity, active participation in the life of Marist and a spirit of service. This year's recipients are Lauren Sibole, Dylan Karr, Julie Woodard, Sean Champoux, Jamie Ferrari, Jenna Laver, Emily Hollander, Angelique Kirkham, Jacob Cornwell, Monica Anderson and Tyler Fechtel.
Outstanding Student awards go to those who consistently uphold the highest grade point throughout their four years in a given subject and other awards were given for one-year achievement.   
O'Hara, Eugene
EUGENE — The people at O’Hara Catholic School say God blessed them through an anonymous donor who gave the school an opportunity to raise $100,000 for facilities maintenance projects. The community came through and not only reached the $50,000 goal, but exceeded it.
The donor seems to recognize the needs of O’Hara’s 60-year old building but values the faith-filled education offered there. The idea is that students enter to learn and go forth to serve.
Enrollment continues to be strong and the school earned a six-year term of accreditation, the highest rating from the Western Catholic Education Association.
"With this new school year," O'Hara officials say, "we are grateful that O’Hara Catholic School’s old building will continue to radiate with the light of faith, building children’s foundations for a lifetime."

St. Paul, Eugene
EUGENE — Officials at St. Paul School here have engineered smaller class sizes for middle schoolers. Science classes will have a more hands-on approach. Elective classes will incorporate topics from other studies, including those of the arts and physical fitness.
Enrollment has stayed steady, with more than two dozen new families coming. They were guests at an Aug. 30 ice cream social.
Last spring, the school added an online dimension to its auction fundraising. Items like a week in Maui or tickets to a Notre Dame football game were posted online for bids give on line, in the eBay model.
On the last day of class, the school hosted newly-ordained Father Matt Libra for a Mass. Students had been praying for him before his June 9 ordination.  

Sacred Heart, Gervais
GERVAIS — Sacred Heart School here has as its 2012-'13 motto, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).  
The school has been serving the local parish and surrounding community for more than 125 years. Folks here say that what endures and gives the school much of its strength is the strong sense of community and family ties. Many students and even teachers have relatives who attended the school a generation or more in the past.  
The school aims to retain the sense of community and history while nurturing active Catholic learners for the future. Graduates are expected to be effective communicators, responsible citizens and life-long learners.
Links to community are strong. School families participate in the Mount Angel Oktoberfest and students honor seniors by serving at senior socials following Mass.
St. Anne, Grants Pass
It was a busy last month or two last spring. The school prepated a float for the annual Boatnik parade and the school choir sang at the National Day of Prayer ceremony at the Josephine County Courthouse. The choir also sang at a parish Mass. The school sponsored several benefit dinners, including a beef brisket barbecue hosted by Father Bill Holtzinger.
McMinnville, St. James
MCMINNVILLE — With 105 students, and increasing, the staff of St. James School say they are looking forward to a rewarding year with the children. There is a total of 15 full- and part-time staff. Accreditation officials gave St. James the highest possible score, meaning six years before the next audit. Fathers John Tran and Terry O'Connell will teach religion.
Faculty staff include Jeananne Bloudek as principal, Gail Hanson in preschool, Colleen Hermens as preschool assistant, Katelyn Rolston in kindergarten, Patti Desmarteau in first grade, Carolyn Radcliffe in second grade, Christine Walker in third grade, Kristen Tollefson in fourth grade, Gus Pappelis as fifth grade music teacher, Lon Buchheit in PE, Peggy Chapman as kindergarten assistant, Fe Reynago as lunch cook and Rebecca Hoffarth as secretary. The teachers received a blessing at Sunday Mass earlier this month.   
Christ the King, Milwaukie
MILWAUKIE — Finishing the details of putting together a new science lab was a joy for sixth grade teacher Molly Drenner of Christ the King Catholic School here.  
“I’m so excited for the students to be able to collaborate and watch each other navigate through science investigations," says Drenner.  
Gone are the days when Christ the King middle school students worked independently at their desks. With auction funding, along with a matching gift from a long-time parish employee, funds were secured to create a dedicated science lab in the growing K-8 school.
The converted computer lab (Christ the King supporters also raised funds for a mobile laptop cart) sets the stage for what Principal Joe Bridgeman envisions as the first stages of creating a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program at Christ the King.
“We are preparing our students for the future, equipping them with problem-solving skills to participate in an increasingly scientific and technological world,” Bridgeman says.
Christ the King has increased enrollment by 32 this year. The parent group welcomed new families by organizing a social gathering in a local park during the summer and matching each new household with an experienced mentor family.  “Parents really appreciate this gesture," says Megan Thyken, president of the Parent Community Organization. "It lessens the anxiety when their child can identify at least one familiar face.”
Archbishop Howard at St. Rose, Northeast Portland  
Archbishop Howard School at St. Rose is marking is centennial with an enriched art program, 21st century technology and new staff members.
School leaders decided to expand the art program with a separate art classroom and an artist-in-residence. The post will be filled by Sue Beede, a former parent and the school’s former development director. Beede aims to create appreciation, understanding, evaluation, and enjoyment of the world. The idea is to give students experiences as building blocks for creativity. Students, pre-kindergarten through 8th grade, have already worked on monochromatic self-portraits, which will be on display at back to school night.
The school has hired Jason Ross as new teacher in the Library Media Center. Ross will oversee the collection of more than 7,500 books and magazines, along with 30 computers. Library media classes are taught with literature and technology components linked to classroom core curriculum. Archbishop Howard at St. Rose also has incorporated technology into every classroom with interactive white boards.   
Cathedral, Northwest Portland
Cathedral School welcomes 4-year-olds to a monthly story time 2 p.m.-3 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month in the library.
Here's some news from older students: From math skills to fetal pig dissection, Cathedral students use iPads to enhance learning. Each classroom in kindergarten through eighth grade is equipped with an iPad for every student. In addition, two classroom carts of MacBook Air laptops are available.  
Franciscan Montessori, Southeast Portland
At Franciscan Montessori Earth School in Southeast Portland, Sister Therese Gutting is newly arrived to work alongside Sister Kathleen Ann Cieslak as co-administrator concentrating on admissions, development, technology and growing the foundation, among other things.
Sister Therese comes to Oregon from Minnesota. Raised in Wisconsin with three brothers, she has taught school in Wisconsin, Vancouver, B.C. and Minnesota. She was vice president of academics at Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet, Minn. and founded and directed the Northwoods Computer Center in Duluth, Minn. She was the administrator of Queen of Peace School in Cloquet, Minn.
Sister Therese says she is excited to be at Franciscan Montessori.  
Holy Cross, North Portland
There's a renewed focus on service and being examples of Christ for others at Holy Cross School in North Portland. As part of requirements to graduate, eighth graders must complete service hours and write a reflection on the project. They also will serve a meal at Blanchet House, a meal site for people who are homeless in downtown Portland.
Two new teachers have joined the faculty.
Alison Andrews is new computer/technology teacher. A mother of three, she is from Chicago and attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis., where she majored in English and education. Last year, she finished a masters in curriculum and instruction at Portland State University and took many classes focusing on the best use of technology in the classroom.  
"I love technology, especially Macs and iPads," she says. "I believe they make learning more hands-on and easier for everyone but, even more importantly, more fun."
For fun, she attends technology conferences to learn how to make books, movies, podcasts, songs, blogs and websites on computers. When not at the computer, she likes to spend time with her family, cook, run, or walk with the family's enormous bull mastiff, Fritz.
Ben Swinehart is the new PE and health teacher. He says he's eager to share his passion for fitness and learning.
He attended Whitworth College where he studied history and education. He was a four-year All-American in swimming and holds several school and conference records. He is also a certified weightlifting coach.
A husband and father of two young children, he is learning the patience it takes to help youngsters simply appreciate human movement. In his gym classes, students will not so much compete against each other as try to achieve physical fitness goals and go for personal bests. He hopes someday to have a swimming and weightlifting groups.
"We can get so caught up in winning and losing that we lose sight of the beauty of it all," he says of sport.  
Meanwhile, students at Holy Cross last year gathered support for the Children's Cancer Association. In the spring, the school snared good-natured competition to help the cause. Classes vied to collect the most change and could donate paper money to other classes, which get subtracted from that class total. It's all called the Penny War. In the end, it raised almost $1,500 for the association, exceeding the goal by almost $500.
The Madeleine, Northeast Portland
The Madeleine School in Northeast Portland welcomes three new teachers, 50 iPads, and 280 saints to the 2012-2013 school year.  
New teacher Brian Grant just finished his student teaching at Holy Redeemer School in North Portland and will begin his career as new PE and health teacher. Rebecca Erickson is a new reading specialist and Anne O’Mahoney is new teacher’s aide in second grade.
Funded by the 2011 auction, the school ordered 50 iPads, one for each teacher and a media cart for classroom use. Throughout the summer, teachers researched applications for classroom instruction.
Barb Anderson, of St. Mary Parish in Corvallis, helped faculty and staff learn about 280 saints of the church at an annual staff retreat. As a result, teachers are planning to share the saints' inspirational stories with students.
“Our goal is to supplement our curriculum with stories that our students can use to support them in their studies and family life,” says Susan Steele, the principal.
The school also finished phase one of a playground that can be used by children with disabilities.  
Reunion held
Those who graduated from the old St. Cecilia School in North Portland 50 years ago gathered for a reunion at the old site in September. The school, later named Pope John XXIII after the convener of the Second Vatican Council, has been closed for decades. The buildings for a time housed De La Salle North Catholic High and now are home to a charter school.
The alumni toured the old school and church building and then headed to Kenton Station, a neighborhood restaurant.
"We are a very close-knit group who have kept in contact for many, many years," says Carol Bickle Marquez. "Some of us have known each other since first grade.  That is a lot of years of friendship in this day and age."
Before 1924, most Catholics in the Kenton neighborhood attended Holy Cross Parish. But Archbishop Alexander Christie decided to establish a new parish for them.
Reportedly, the Ku Klux Klan was active in North Portland at the time and thwarted Catholic plans to rent and purchase space. But eventually, the archdiocese bought some heavily wooded land on North Farragut Street. Early parishioners recalled Father William Hampson grubbing stumps and chopping logs.
The name of the new community was St. Cecilia. About 80 families gathered for Mass in the church in November 1924.
Father Hampson himself drove children to Holy Cross School on weekdays. In 1947, St. Cecilia built its own school.
By the start of the 1960s, the congregation had outgrown its church and broken ground for a modern, mosaic-covered house of worship. The name of the parish was then changed to Queen of Peace to avoid confusion with St. Cecilia Parish in Beaverton.
But by the early 1970s, along with Catholic institutions all over the nation, enrollment at the school was dropping, and religious staff were dwindling. Queen of Peace and Blessed Sacrament combined their schools in 1971 with the name Pope John XXIII School. That school closed in 1986.

St. Andrew Nativity, Northeast Portland
On opening day at St. Andrew Nativity School in Northeast Portland, former Trailblazer Jerome Kersey was literally on hand. He stood at the door to give students a high five as they entered for a morning assembly.  
Kersey, a small forward who was a Blazer standout and team captain, went back to finish college in 2006, five years after retiring from a long NBA career.
"Let learning be fun for you," Kersey told the middle schoolers, many of whom are low income.
Families, who come from all faiths, pay nothing to send students to St. Andrew, a private Jesuit Catholic institution. Most are black or Latino. Officials say students gain an average five grade levels in their three years. Many go to local college prep high schools like Jesuit and Central Catholic. Almost all Nativity alumni graduate from high school and 85 percent go to college, supported along the way by Nativity staff.
Boys in white shirts and ties and girls in uniform jumpers craned their necks to look up as Kersey spoke. At the assembly, they prayed together and heard the exhortation: "Be doers of the Word.
It was also the first day of classes for Nativity’s new president Carolyn Becic, former executive director of Oregon Mentors. She told students her door is always open to them, and added that she usually has a few sweets on her desk.
The school, with 70 students, welcomed 27 new children this year. Some take long bus rides and gather for breakfast as early as 6:45 a.m. Their day goes a few hours longer than the usual school session.
Each Friday, they attend an all-school Mass, with students taking part as liturgical ministers.
St. Clare, Southwest Portland
Staff and faculty from St. Clare School say the week before classes was "a virtual whirlwind of activity" — moving furniture, decorating walls, making copies. Laughter rang out in the halls as everyone made final preparations to greet students.
The parish and school are planning for a two-year centennial celebration, which will run from summer 2013 through summer 2015.
Father Stephen Stobie arrived as new parish priest in July. He graduated from St. Clare and over the summer has been sharing recollections of his time as a student. Staff and faculty have been fascinated.
Officials plan to have Father Stobie teach students about the history of St. Clare.
The school received what officials call "a mini-facial" while the students were away. Workers laid durable carpeting in the hallways. Middle-schoolers will no longer need to battle their lockers to get them closed; new lockers went in, color coordinated with carpets.
Hallway renovations were just the beginning. Technology updates include laptops and iPads, which come in addition to Smart Boards and document cameras with media carts. Teachers received training in a new school information system.  
All these improvements came at the hands of volunteers and staff. Parents Stephen Hunt and Jason Beam and a team of helpers coordinated the purchase and installation of the carpeting and lockers. Tony Irlbeck, science teacher and IT expert, oversaw technology upgrades.
St. Ignatius, Southeast Portland
As the St. Ignatius students began the year, they noticed the pitter-patter of smaller feet. The Southeast Portland school has welcomed three, four, and five-year-old students into a new preschool class.
The previous library was refurbished for 25 preschoolers, who have upped the laughter and joy on campus. Joan Gay, a parishioner and a past parent at the school, is co-director of the preschool. For a dozen years, she led the program at St. Paul Preschool along with the other new co-director, Jean Walker. Walker founded St. Paul Preschool and taught there for more than 30 years. Gretchen Pfieffer completes the preschool team, having worked at Discovery Land Preschool in Southeast Portland.
The St. Ignatius Preschool also provides before and after school care, music, library, PE, and hot lunch. An extended care program for elementary grades, sponsored by the school, began this month.
The St. Ignatius computer lab was remodeled into an updated library, and the previous aging desktop computers replaced with 30 laptops in a rolling technology lab. The work was funded with a bequest by the Ted and Fran VanVeen family trust, as well as last year's auction.
Jesuit Father Craig Boly, the new pastor, will bless the new preschool and technology offerings.  
The school welcomes new families throughout the school year. Space is still available in several grades.  
St. John Fisher, Southwest Portland
St. John Fisher School has welcomed Father Richard Thompson as pastor.   
He converted to Catholicism in 1985 at the age of 35 and entered Mount Angel Seminary three years later; he was ordained to the priesthood in 1995.
Father Thompson's first assignment was at St. Cecilia in Beaverton. Four years later, he went to St. Mary Star of the Sea in Astoria, where he served for three years. He has spent the last 10 years at All Saints Parish in Northeast Portland.
He was formally installed as pastor of St. John Fisher in July.
He says he loves being a priest. “I finally decided what I want to do when I grow up," he explains. "I’m still working on growing up.”
Father Thompson hails from Bend. He enjoys cooking, especially in the great outdoors, with his barbecues. His specialty dishes include paella, chicken enchiladas, and braised short ribs or lamb shanks. With an appreciation for books and art, he collects both. Among other interest are gardening, travel and an eclectic taste in music.
His family still lives in the area, including his parents in Milwaukie.
The priest has several spiritual devotions, including St. Martha. “If it wouldn’t have been for Martha they would have never eaten,” he says. Keeping with the behind-the-scenes heroes, he also has a devotion to St. Joseph.
St. Thomas More, Southwest Portland
St. Thomas More School completed a three-year renovation in August. The project was called “Sharpening Our Surroundings.” Improvements have included painting, flooring, furniture, desks and lighting. This summer, workers renovated the music room, computer lab and kindergarten by updating windows and coverings, furniture, carpet, paint, lights, ceilings, and heating and air conditioning. Along the way came improved technology. Each classroom has digital interactive white boards. There are two laptop carts, each housing 27 individual laptops, digital cameras, digital projectors.
Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders are getting iPads to help in their learning.
Donations and volunteers come from the parish and school and even from faculty and staff.
"The students and faculty will benefit greatly from the vision and hard work," say school officials, "and so will generations of students to come."
St. Mary, Stayton
STAYTON — At St. Mary School here, the staff is working on ways to encourage personal growth and development in each student. The strategy is recognizing and praising positive behavior. Teachers and others will be focusing on fostering inclusion, manners and participation. The idea is to link the behaviors to virtues. For example, when a child is inclusive, he or she is probably showing virtues of kindness, generosity and charity. Good manners might display the virtues of patience, self-control and prudence. Good participation in Mass might mean faithfulness and joy.
Students will earn “virtue vouchers,” which will be deposited in a jar at the office. During assemblies, the vouchers will be drawn and the student can win an award such as free dress or lunch with the principal.
“We want to link virtues to the behavior that we want to see increased at the school," says Rick Schindler, principal at St. Mary's. "For example, if we see a student being kind toward another and including them in a game at recess, a staff member might give them a virtue voucher.”
In conjunction with the virtue voucher program, St. Mary staff are retraining themselves in an approach called "Love and Logic." Incorporating the approach with the positive behavior plan is intended to guide students to do the right things. St. Mary has a certified "Love and Logic" trainer on staff who will be continuing training on a monthly basis throughout the year.
St. Mary welcomes three new teachers. Rachel Clark will teach music. Mary Barrett  will teach middle school language arts and Mandi Bolduc is the new third grade teacher.

St. Anthony, Tigard
TIGARD — In our classroom at St. Anthony School here, we have many animals. We have everything from hamsters to fish and baby quail. In the beginning of the year, we had only one hamster named “Thing.” We also had a fish named “Grumpy” who now has a good friend named “Kelly.” Unfortunately, Thing is no longer with us but Mrs. T has supplied us with two other hamsters, Tomasina and Jerry. Tomasina and Jerry now have five youngsters of their own with more on the way. We are currently working to find happy homes for the other youngsters. As a science experiment, we have recently hatched quail eggs. There were 18 fertile eggs, 3 of which have survived. In the next few weeks, all of the quail will be transferred to the zoo. We have had a wonderful time watching all of these animals grow and develop. From experiencing this in our classroom, we have learned a lot about animal behavior.  
The school celebrated a large birthday at 11:30 a.m. Mass on Sept. 16. Students processed in carrying banners, the St. Anthony Chorus sang, and older students read the intercessions. The event was the school's 90th anniversary.  After Mass, children at cupcakes and each classroom received a statue of the patron saint, St. Anthony of Padua, to be prominently displayed.  
The first class at St. Anthony began in 1922 close to the site of the present school, staffed by Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today, the school has 330 students in kindergarten to grade 8 with 50 children in preschool. The principal, Karen Bolliger, spoke about the long history of the school and its reputation for academic excellence at Mass on Sunday. Groundbreaking for a new community center, which includes a school cafeteria and kitchen, took place in August.
Meanwhile, the custodial team were asked to plant a new tree on the grounds in full view of the school buildings. The family of Russell Gaerlan, a first grader, donated a Norway spruce they brought back from a recent trip to Seattle.
"It will be interesting to watch the tree grow over the years as we watch our students grow and mature over the years," says Karen Bolliger, the principal at St. Anthony.  
— Savannah Aube and Gabi Stegemoller, seventh graders at St. Anthony School in Tigard, contributed to this story.