The local Catholic school will celebrate its long history of education in Havre next week during National Catholic Schools Week. The Rev. Dale Yurkovic, superintendent of St. Jude Thaddeus School, said he has appreciated the community, his parish and the school since he took over St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church last summer. The work ethic, family traditions and sense of caring apparent in the community translate into the school, he said. “I’ve been very impressed with the longevity of families and the tradition of families,” he said. “I’ve met people who said their granparents went to school here.” St. Jude’s will start Catholic Schools Week, celebrated across the n a t i o n a n d o rg a n i z e d by t h e N a t i o n a l C a t h o l i c Educators Association, Sunday and has activies planned throughout the week. Principal Carol Ortman said the environment at St. Jude’s helps with a quality education, which shows in tests the school participated in for the first time last year. Students last year took the same set of tests public schools students take as a requirement of the federal No Child Left Behind program. She said students excelled in almost every area. Ortman said a representative of the Office of Public Instruction was impressed with the results in reading. St. Jude students also performed well in science, although the scores were not as impressive in some areas of mathematics. The school will look at its curriculum in that area, although it will not completely change it, as the school excelled in its scores on computation. The test was a valuable tool to see where the school stood in stat e requirements, she said. It was good to find that St. Jude’s reading curriculum matches state requirements so well, she added. “It’s always nice to see where you rank,” she said. Ortman said St. Jude's has tools not available in public schools that help with education, including the ability to use prayer to help them to improve and resolve problems. “Every child discovers the gift of Jesus,” she said. “We give it freely.” She added that that tool helps teach the students that they are never alone. “If they know they have Jesus, then they have all the survival skills they need, really,” she said. Yurkovic said that, while the school is Catholic, everyone is welcome no matter what their religious beliefs. “While the curriculum addresses Catholic issues, it is Christian-based,” he said. Stacy Rismon, St. Jude's development director, said about a third of the school’s students are not Catholic. They are welcome at the school, and they are eligible for its scholarship funds, she said. Ortman said community residents donate about $20,000 a year to provide scholarships for students, all of which is used. Yurkovic said he believes the parochial school tradition gives many advantages to the students, including dealing with the student as a whole person, rather than just in an educational sense. “It brings everything together,” Yurkovic said.
St. Jude’s school activities
The activities planned at St. Jude Thaddeus School for National Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 31-Feb. 6, include:
• Monday: A ceremony at 9 a.m. in the Havre Central gymnasium.
• Tuesday: Students will be given cookies and a bookmark and will work on a poster showing 93 reasons they like attending St. Jude’s.
• Wednesday: A presentation will be made by theAmerican Legion on the U.S. flag.
• Thursday: A vocation meeting in the Parish Center, where the Rev. Dale Yurkovic and representatives of the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Daughters, Parish Council of Catholic Women and others will talk about what people can do to help their parish and their community.
• Friday: Students will wear their school T-shirts and Yurkovic will hold a prayer session.
• Satuday: The annual Kid’s Carnival will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the gymnasium.
History of St. Jude’s
St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic School has a long history in the community, going back nearly to the turn of the last century. Principal Carol Ortman said the school opened in September 1916, with 100 students in four grades, taught by two Sisters of Penance and Christian Charity of St. Francis. By 1918, the school had 300 students in grades one through eight, taught by just six nuns. Its high school opened in 1924, but closed in 1929. Havre Central High School then reopened in 1949 and graduated students until it closed again in 1968. Ortman said that primarily was done because lay teachers began to be used in the 1950s, as fewer and fewer nuns taught at the school, and by 1968 the expense of paying teachers became too great. The school now has 161 students, with 51 in preschool and 110 in kindergarten through eighth grade.