The Suburbanite
  • Stark Catholic schools will now be known as Holy Cross Academy

  • In a bid to preserve, strengthen and “raise the bar,” the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown has reconfigured its elementary schools in Stark County.

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  • In a bid to preserve, strengthen and “raise the bar,” the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown has reconfigured its elementary schools in Stark County.
    On Wednesday, with help from more than 200 second-graders, Monsignor Lewis Gaetano, introduced Holy Cross Academy Catholic Schools during a program at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel on the campus of Walsh University.
    The plan consolidates Stark County’s 11 Catholic elementary schools into a single academy — with 11 campuses. As a single system, advocates say the campuses will benefit from greater purchasing power, shared resources, more effective fundraising and coordinated curricula.
    Gaetano, pastor at Christ the Servant Catholic Church in Canton, is also the academy’s president. John McGrath, retired president of Stark State College, is its board chair.
    “I think there’s a good response to it,” Gaetano said. “It’s something new. Different brings about some challenges, but there’s also much greater opportunity in raising the bar for Catholic education, and doing it together to go ahead of the game.”
    The goal of the academy, Gaetano said, is to equip students with 21st-century skills to compete in the global economy while helping them to become servant-leaders by fostering Catholic character, boldness, confidence and wisdom.
    “I saw a statistic that said that 60 percent of the jobs these students will be working, haven’t been created yet,” Gaetano said.
    “I think it’s going to be good,” said Jackie Zufall, principal at the St. Paul campus in North Canton. “We gain strength from each other and through reorganization.”
    Zufall said she expects some parents to be wary.
    “This is a huge change,” she said. “But I think they can see the big picture. I think there’s a good sense of enthusiasm.”
    “I’m open-minded about it,” said Mary Gainer, whose youngest child is a second-grader at the Our Lady of Peace campus in Canton. “They’re all getting the same education.”
    “I like the idea of unity in the schools,” said Rachel Joy, a mom of four who has a fourth-grader, a second-grader and a kindergartner at Our Lady of Peace. “So much about the Catholic church is about unity. I’ve heard about the same concept being used in other cities, and it’s worked out well.”
    Joy said she transferred her children from Mason School in Canton.
    “We wanted a faith-based education, added reinforcement of our beliefs and morals,” she explained.
    Though she isn’t Catholic, Shannell Williams of Canton, agreed. Her family enrolled two nieces and her daughter in OLOP.
    “I like that it’s close-knit,” she said. “It was the best choice for us.”
    Under the plan, the academy will emphasize professional development for Common Core Curriculum Standards, and “STREAM,” or Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math.
    Page 2 of 2 - Preschools have been re-branded as “family preschool centers,” to acknowledge the role of parents, and to align the centers with Catholic identity and the schools’ curricula.
    The academy also will offer lacrosse, boys’ flag football, cheerleading squads for flag football, and county-wide drama and choral programs. School mascots will remain the same.
    To explain the system’s name, Gaetano cited examples in the Bible.
    “When God calls people, he has a tendency to change their names because he’s sending them on a special mission,” he told the students. “We bring a legacy, but we also bring a new name, to bring ourselves into the future.
    “Today, as we come together as 11 schools, we believe we’re called to a special mission. ... You’re the ambassadors who are going to teach people the love of God.”
    For more information call the academy offices at 330-526-8366 or visit www.StarkHolyCrossAcademy.com
    Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or charita.goshay@cantonrep.com
    On Twitter: @cgoshayREP
    Holy Cross Academy Campuses:
    • Our Lady of Peace, 1001 39th St. NW, Canton.
    • Regina Coeli, 733 Fernwood Blvd. Alliance.
    • St. Barbara, 2809 Lincoln Way NW, Massillon.
    • St. Joan of Arc, 120 Bordner Ave. SW, Perry Township.
    • St. Joseph, 126 Columbus Ave. NW, Canton.
    • St. Louis, 214 N. Chapel St., Louisville.
    • St. Mary, 640 First St. NE, Massillon.
    • St. Michael the Archangel, 3431 St. Michael Blvd. NW, Plain Township.
    • St. Paul, 303 S. Main St., North Canton.
    • St. Peter, 72 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton
    • Sts. Philip & James, 532 High St., Canal Fulton.
    • Stark County elementary parochial students: 1,914
    • Total students enrolled in all diocesan schools: 7,386.

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