Renewed growth is what sets St. Barbara Catholic School apart from other schools in the Holy Cross Academy.
Renewed growth is what sets St. Barbara Catholic School apart from other schools in the Holy Cross Academy. The school has a new principal and the parish has a new pastor. The two of them have been working together the past two years to increase enrollment.
Rev. Brian Cline and principal Matthew Creamer came to the school in July of 2013. At the time, pre-enrollment was at 43.
“That was the last year we were a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school, instead we became a kindergarten through fifth grade,” Creamer said. “Father Cline and I started working hard that first summer to get enrollment up and by the time school started in August, we had 126 students registered. We announced a couple of weeks ago that the diocese is bringing back the sixth grade next year. So in the fall of 2015, we'll be kindergarten through sixth grade.”
Creamer said the school is really a hidden gem on the west side of Massillon. He said the school has the latest in technology, the Father and the parents do a great job of fundraising, the school has a great Catholic identity and it is experiencing great growth.
The school has been educating students for almost 150 years. Creamer said the school will be holding a celebration next year for the 150th anniversary. It is one year older than the church which Creamer said is unusual to have Catholic school be older than the parish its associated with.
The school serves students from several areas including Jackson Township, Massillon, Navarre, Dalton and Brewster. The school building has had numerous updates and additions. A new section of the building was built in the 1950s. A second section was added 12 years ago.
Rhonda Annen has been the school's secretary for more than 26 years and a member of the parish for 40 years. She said the highest enrollment year was 1998-1999 when there were 282 students enrolled in grades kindergarten through eighth.
Creamer said in addition to all of the highlights of providing a 21st-century education, St. Barbara offers a student to teacher ratio of 9:1. The school has a great family atmosphere with great teachers and staff. It's community centered and is faith-based. And, Creamer said, the school lives on the parent volunteers.
“The school holds several fundraisers throughout the year including the Spring Festival in May, a silent and live auction in April, bingo every Wednesday evening and reverse raffles a couple of times a year,” Creamer said. “The parents are heavily involved in all of the fundraiser.”
The school also has a pre-kindergarten offering full-day and two different half-day hours. Students enjoy art programs, Spanish classes in all grade levels, Scholastic Book Fairs and they can purchase slightly used uniforms for as low as one dollar in the gift shop and uniform room.
“Our fourth and fifth graders just returned from a three-day field trip to Gettysburg, Philadelphia, Valley Forge and Hershey (Pennsylvania),” Creamer said. “We also offer morning and after school care for our students.”