Updated: September 05, 2017 08:46 PM
It's the first day of school ever for Duluth's Stella Maris Academy. In a way, at least.
Duluth's Catholic schools got a new name and a new look over the past several months. Bishop Paul Sirba chose the name Stella Maris.
"Stella Maris is a name for Mary, Star of the Sea," Interim Presiden Hilaire Hauer said. "So she's always guiding us through our journey towards her son, our Lord Jesus Christ."
The "Called to be One" planning process lasted around a year and a half. It resulted in bringing all Catholic schools together to become one school with three campuses.
"It's so awesome to be able to offer exceptional education where every child is known and loved," Hauer said, "and to see them grow academically and in the gifts that God has given them."
Eighth graders Tessa and Greta Schauer are excited to begin their final middle school year at the St. James campus.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing all my friends again and going to all my classes," Tessa Schauer said. "It's actually really fun."
Greta agreed and said she is looking forward to making new friends too.
"We have a lot of new kids in our class -- well, it's two, but that's a lot for our school -- so I'm excited to meet them and kind of get to know them," Greta Schauer said.
First grader Peter Gerard had similar excitement about the first day.
"Getting excited to meet the only new person in my class," Peter said.
They also got a new crest, new colors and a new mascot.
"The shield is the shield of faith. The 'M' is the Marian 'M.' You'll see the Marian blue and the star for Stella. And of course, the cross with the sword," Hauer described the crest.
The colors are Marian blue and black. Their sports teams will go by the Sentinels.
Hauer comes into her role, interim president, having never been a school employee, so she said she is able to look at the year with fresh eyes. She was also on the board of the "Called to be One" committee.
"This year, we're going to bring our staff together as much as possible to have common staff meetings and have the teachers working together to continue the collaboration that they've already made this summer," she said.
It's also an accreditation year for Stella Maris.
"We'll be working through the school's strategic plan whereby we engage the teachers and the staff and the families and our governing board to set the path for the future," Hauer said.
Hauer said they added about 30 new families for the 2017-18 school year. There are currently upwards of 500 students at Stella Maris Academy, split between the three campuses: St. James, St. John's and Holy Rosary.
"We are so happy with our enrollment this year," Hauer said. "At Stella Maris Academy, we're so mindful of keeping meaningful class sizes."
Greta Schauer was quick to point out that is one of her favorite things about going to school there.
"I like the small class sizes because that way, you can get to know everyone and get to know your teachers," Greta said, "and you can get help right away if you have any questions."
St. James has students in preschool to 8th grade. Holy Rosary is preschool to 4th. St. John's is 5th to 8th and is the planned site for high school classes in the future.
A 9th grade class was not added this year but is still in the works for the future.
Hauer said Stella Maris students and families plan to play a role in the larger Duluth community through service learning projects and community service opportunities.
So far, she said the year is off to a bright start.
"This first day of school, we were met with a rainbow. And you couldn't ask for a greater gift than that," Hauer sadi. "All the families were smiling, and the kids were so excited to come to Stella Maris Academy for the very first day."
Updated: September 05, 2017 08:46 PM
Created: September 05, 2017 04:48 PM
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