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IDOE’s Four Star award goes to five schools in diocese

four-star schools

Alex Munoz, a student at St. Mary Catholic Community School in Crown Point, examines a specimen with Barry Walker, natural resource coordinator at Wolf Lake in Illinois, during a recent Envionmental Club outing. St. Mary is among five schools in the Diocese of Gary to earn Four Star recognition from the Indiana Department of Education. (Photo provided)


NWIC Staff Report


      INDIANAPOLIS – Five schools in the Diocese of Gary are among Indiana’s Four Star Schools for 2013-2014.

      As announced by the Indiana Department of Education on April 28, the five local honoree schools are:

   • Marquette Catholic High School, Michigan City

   • St. John the Evangelist, St. John

   • St. Mary Catholic Community School, Crown Point

   • St. Patrick School, Chesterton

   • St. Paul Catholic School, Valparaiso

      In order to achieve this designation, a school must be in the top 25th percentile of schools in two ISTEP-based categories. Additionally, a qualifying school must have earned an “A” in the state’s accountability system and be accredited by the Indiana Department of Education.

      A total of 281 schools throughout the state received the award.

      James White, principal at Marquette Catholic, said that school educates students from 17 different middle schools, three counties, and 12 countries.

      “To be a great school you must represent the community you serve. To be a great school you have to be open to the challenge of bringing everyone together and exceeding their needs and expectations,” White said. “Daily our teachers work to bring out the best in each other and our students.”

      Richard Rupcich, dean of students at St. Patrick, said that school’s Four Star designation, as well as its national Blue Ribbon honor, can be attributed to four factors: students, staff, parents, and pastor, Father James Meade.

      Students, Rupcich said, “do their homework; they take standardized testing seriously; and are a pleasure to have in the classroom.” The veteran teaching staff who believe in the school’s mission, the dean continued, are “dedicated not only to the academic growth of our students but also the formation of moral and spiritual values consistent with the Catholic mission of education.”

      Through parental support, Rupcich said, the school has surpassed its fundraising goals and families “support our mission and work hand in hand with us in the educational process.” Father Meade, he said, is not only a good financial steward but “is very committed to Catholic education and his vision can be seen throughout our campus.”

      Franciscan Sister Gianna Marie Webber, principal at St. John the Evangelist, said the state honor is a true testament to our excellent teachers and staff, as well as our students and their parents. Being recognized as a four star school affirms what I witness every day here at our school: it is a place where everyone strives to ‘learn, live, and love as Jesus taught us.’”

      Thomas Ruiz, principal at St. Mary, commented, “It took hard work to earn this honor. It should be noted that this designation is just one indicator of the quality and type of education offered at St. Mary's. Our students get the opportunity to learn about the teachings of Jesus and live them out on a daily basis here.

      “In addition, we offer a large number of clubs, sports, and activities for students to get involved with. That's why we say, ‘we're a Four Star school...and so much more.’"

      Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Ritz congratulated these schools, saying, “Winning this award is a testament to the excellent work done by teachers, administrators, students and parents throughout the year.”

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