By SHERIDAN CYR
One day before Southington Public Schools opened the 2017-18 school year, officials at Southington Catholic School opened their doors to students and their families. On Wednesday, Aug. 30, the school held a soft opening before the first official day of school on Thursday to relieve some of the stress and apprehension that back-to-school week can bring.
Ten new students enrolled for this school year, bringing the total enrollment in the Pre-K through eighth grade school to 160 students, reported Principal Eileen Sampiere. Now starting the third year of operation, enrollment has seen a steady growth since its opening.
Southington Catholic School has an interesting history. Before it began operating two years ago, there were two Catholic schools in Southington: St. Thomas and St. Dominic. The schools decided to merge into one school, hoping to provide students with a larger community and better opportunities to grow, learn and succeed. The larger building of the two, St. Thomas, became the new Southington Catholic School.
On Sunday, Aug. 27, students, teachers, and the rest of the school community turned out for a second birthday party for the school.
“There’s a real family aspect here,” said Mary Alexander, Director of Advancement. “We’ve heard from parents who say that it’s a warm, welcoming environment while they’re here.”
The family aspect comes from the fact that students tend to stay long after they graduate and move on. Some teachers at SCS are graduates of either St. Thomas or St. Dominic, and many of them have children who are now students there themselves.
Alumni often remain volunteers to assist the school during events both in and out of the classrooms. In addition, students who start in the Pre-K program at age three or four and remain in the school system all the way through eighth grade spend their whole youth there.
“It’s more than just a school to them. They grow up here,” said Alexander.
SCS is always finding ways to make their mark on the community. Students and teachers maintain a shelf at the Southington Food Pantry, visit Mulberry Gardens to interact with residents, and are active in Southington’s Chamber of Commerce. They also have a close relationship with the Knights of Columbus, who partake in numerous charitable events and promote education.
New this year to the school is a second Pre-K program due to high velocity of newcomers. SCS has also enacted a new before-school program starting at 6:45 a.m. for parents who need to drop off their children to school before the school day officially begins.
New faculty members have been hired to accommodate the school’s growth in population, and two classrooms have been added. The school is happy to introduce some new technological advancements, including new chrome books, iPads and more.
SCS offers extracurricular activities beyond the classroom. They have sports programs, and a band program for grades six to eight. There is a student council for students to become involved in. They have put on talent shows, concerts, Civil War reenactments and more. In the works this year is a drama club.
Alexander reported that students have a high success rate with SCS. They often continue on to honors programs and consistently test well in entry exams for high school. She largely accredits this to their tight-knit community and their strong support systems.
Southington Catholic School eagerly awaits what is to come in their third year with many new additions to offer, while still holding onto traditions that have continued to bring success to students, faculty and families alike.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.