First day is a fun day

Published 9:26 am Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sue Amundson teaches her first grade class on the first day of school at St. Theodore Catholic School. This is the 15th year the school has been open. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Drizzly weather greeted students at St. Theodore Catholic School on their first day of school Tuesday morning.

The parochial school started its 15th year with 91 students, seven full-time teachers and four part-time teachers. One benefit the school offers is small class sizes. The largest class size at the school is 16 students. Deacon Mike Ellis said smaller class sizes allow teachers to work one-on-one with students more often.

Kindergartners play during their free time on Tuesday. The first day of school at St. Theodore Catholic School was a week before public schools are set to start. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Public schools aren’t set to start until Sept. 7, but the school board at St. Theodore voted to start early. Ellis said the students were ready to come back after a long summer, even though there was no busing available for the first week.

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“This morning they were all so excited,” Ellis said.

New to the school are Amanda Schroeder, who will teach third grade, and Brooke Peinovich, who will teach fifth grade. Aimee Chalmers will be the new part-time Spanish teacher.

Amy Schewe is returning as a second-grade teacher and said she’s excited about new curriculum that will lend itself well to activities.

“I have a great class,” Schewe said. “It’s a small class so there’s lots of enrichment opportunity.”

Kindergartners play in a sandbox during their free time Tuesday morning. Class sizes are small at St. Theodore Catholic School with just 14 students in the kindergarten class. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Another teacher, Mary Tuohy, said the start of the school year is going well. Tuohy teaches kindergarten at St. Theodore. She said her students took a tour of the building and got used to their surroundings Tuesday. Also, she took her students to see their siblings in other grades, which the children like.

Avery Benda, 6, said she was enjoying school so far on Tuesday, and her brother Ashler is in third grade at St. Theodore.

“I have three friends I’m playing with,” Benda said.

The Catholic school has Mass each week at Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. Each grade plans and participates in weekly Mass. Ellis said the school celebrates faith every day by starting each day with prayer. He also said all Christian faiths are welcome to attend the school.

“We get lots of families of different faith,” Ellis said.

Ellis and the Rev. Jim Berning said students at St. Theodore are at or above standards on Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments. Students enjoy other activities such as music, gym, Spanish and Art Adventure. Another program school administrators are excited about are Parents and Kids Eat Together Days, called PAKET Days. One day a month parents have the opportunity to come to eat lunch with their children. This is one way parents stay involved with students at the school. The first PAKET Day this year is Sept. 14.

The school’s mission is to promote excellence through a well-rounded academic curriculum in a Christ-centered environment. Students are also involved in the community with weekly trips to the public library.

Enrollment numbers for each grade at St. Theodore Catholic School:

  • Kindergarten: 14
  • First grade: 14
  • Second grade: 11
  • Third grade: 14
  • Fourth grade: 13
  • Fifth grade: 16
  • Sixth grade: 9