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Six Schools Join Forces

SOUTH BAY — When the Archangel Gabriel told Mary that she was to bear the Son of God and name Him Jesus, she completely surrendered herself to the divine plan in what is known as the “fiat”:

“Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38).

This declaration of trust is being echoed today by the current South Bay parochial schools — Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School, St. Charles School, St. Michael Academy, St. Pius X School and St. Rose of Lima School — and the new Juan Diego Academy, which will open next fall.

The six schools have partnered to create a South Bay Catholic schools consortium. The consortium, to be known as FIAT Catholic Schools, stands for Faith, Innovation, Academics, Team. The consortium’s motto is: “Yes to God, yes to Catholic education!”

The FIAT Catholic Schools are in the beginning stages of collaboration. One of the consortium’s goals is to have a common standard of education that can be found in all six schools, utilizing the STREAM learning model — Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. STEM programing, the first step toward the STREAM model, will be added this fall to the curriculum of all six schools.

The consortium held a public meeting March 26, in the Mater Dei Catholic High School theatre.

The following are profiles of the five current South Bay Catholic schools, each of which are members of the new consortium.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School,

San Ysidro

For more than 80 years, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School has provided an environment of faith, love and respect to its students, while fostering their learning and spiritual growth.

The school was founded in 1933 by the Sister Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, whose charism is to instill in children and youth the love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary through Catholic education.

Therefore, the school’s sisters, faculty and staff strive to stay at the vanguard of technology and instructional methodology by utilizing newly acquired document readers, Smart Boards and iPads to ensure all students are prepared for the 21st century, while keeping the students’ faith formation at the forefront of each and every lesson.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School has seen significant growth and progress over its many years of service to the community. In 1994, the second- through eighth-grade classrooms were torn down and rebuilt, and in 1998, the school expanded its services with a pre-K program.

The students’ Catholic identity is fostered through the school’s unique association with the Sister Servants of the Blessed Sacrament. The campus is blessed by being attached to the sisters’ convent. This makes it possible for the students to visit the convent’s chapel for monthly Eucharistic adoration, as well as to have sisters both as teachers and as the principal of the school.

For more information, visit www.olmcsd.com or call (619) 428-2091.

St. Charles School, Imperial Beach

St. Charles Catholic School, located in the South San Diego/Imperial Beach area, is celebrating more than 65 years of serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The school is proud to say that many of its alumni have continued on to attend prestigious four-year universities and still find the time to come back and visit the campus that set them on their academic and faith-filled foundation. Most recently, some of its current students were recognized by local Catholic high schools for their leadership and strong academic abilities.

This past year also has been an exciting one for the school’s sports program, with its varsity football, soccer and volleyball teams undefeated.

At the school, musically-inclined students enjoy piano lessons as well as other horn instruments that are offered on campus.

The school community was recently privileged to witness students celebrating their First Holy Communion. The eighth-grade class is now preparing for portfolio presentations and their upcoming graduation.

After a groundbreaking ceremony in January 2014 and a ribbon-cutting ceremony the following August, the new St. Charles Catholic Preschool opened on Sept. 2, 2014, and is now filled with 3- to 5-year-old students learning and playing in their new facility. Nestled right beside the parish church and K-8 campus, the preschool has the capacity to serve 48 preschoolers.

“Our mission,” Principal Steve Stutz said, “is to educate the ‘whole’ child.”

For more information, visit www.saintcharlesschool.com or follow the school on Facebook and Twitter.

St. Michael Academy, San Diego

St. Michael Academy is a culturally-diverse academic institution, educating students from preschool through eighth grade. The Academy opened its doors in 1962 under the leadership of the pastor, Father Donner A. Frederick, and flourished under the guidance and tutelage of the Sisters Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament from Madrid, Spain, led by Mother Concepcion. The doors to St. Michael Preschool opened in 1990.

The motto of St. Michael Academy is “Learn, Love, Serve.” Students learn about God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit; love others through the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and serve in the name of the Holy Trinity.

The school promotes academic excellence. Over the years, a high percentage of the school’s graduates have gone on to Catholic high schools and Catholic colleges, many having received scholarships. Because of its rigorous curriculum, 21 students were accepted to participate in the Greater San Diego Science & Engineering Fair. Participation in the Diocesan Academic Decathlon produces another level of academic excellence. The school also has a strong music and fine arts program.        

The mission of St. Michael Academy is to form young disciples to be spiritually, intellectually and socially prepared to live a Catholic Christian life in a secular world. Throughout the years, service projects have helped students grow in compassion, service and love.  Students joyfully donate to the Missionary Childhood Association. The school community prays the rosary and celebrates weekly Masses offered for the intentions of the parish, school families and the global community.

Practicing the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy and striving for academic excellence helps mold students into lifelong learners, responsible citizens and participating members of the parish community who live the Catholic faith.

For more information, visit www.smasandiego.org or call (619) 470-4880.

St. Pius X School, Chula Vista

Founded in 1960, St. Pius X School has enjoyed five decades of excellence in both academics and Catholic faith formation.

The school has undergone four major renovations since it opened, with the latest occurring in September 2011, with the addition of a state-of-the-art science lab, a new classroom and a preschool.

As with most schools adapting to the new 21st-century academic expectations, St. Pius X has increased its technological capabilities. The school now enjoys a robotics program as part of its STREAM initiative. The staff actively attends various best practices workshops to improve methodologies in teaching. St. Pius X School is always striving to be on the “cutting edge” of academics without sacrificing the traditions of the Catholic faith.

As part of Catholic faith formation, St. Pius X students are encouraged to serve the community of Chula Vista, such as through the school’s annual holiday toy drive. Students donate toys, and then the local Police Athletic League collects and distributes them to those children in the community who are in most need during the Christmas season.

Sometimes, the school’s outreach benefits those in need internationally. For instance, in less than one week, St. Pius X School families donated more than $1,300 to aid victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the central Philippine islands in late 2013.

St. Pius X School also has an excellent reputation in athletics. Carlos Quentin, formerly a member of the San Diego Padres baseball team, is an alumnus. Also, students from St. Pius X have had the opportunity to play in the Little League World Baseball Championship.

For more information, visit www.school.saintpiusx.org or call (619) 422-2015.

St. Rose of Lima School, Chula Vista

St. Rose of Lima School was first staffed by four Benedictine sisters. Prayer is at the heart of the Benedictine community: “Our life in the Spirit of Jesus Christ overflows into a life of ministry; we are called to be holy, to witness joyfully to God’s presence and love.”

The Benedictine philosophy is as prevalent today as it was 65 years ago. Prayer and building strong community by modeling the teachings of Jesus Christ still make up the backbone of the school today.

After 46 years of Benedictine leadership, a lay principal was hired in 1994.

There have been six minor expansions and remodels made to St. Rose of Lima School since 1948, but beginning in 2003, a major initiative to build a new school complex was started. In June 2010, the De Flores Center opened its doors.

The new facility houses K-8 classrooms, two preschool rooms, a library/media room, a computer lab, a science/robotics lab, a music/art room, multipurpose rooms, and an artificial turf sports field. The school now hosts a robotics program as part of its STREAM initiative.

St. Rose of Lima School has always emphasized excellence in academics, sports and music. However, true to the school’s roots, Catholic Christian service undergirds the school’s success.

Through the school’s parent-led Christian Action program, students serve several organizations from bagging beans and rice in kindergarten for the parish’s homeless kitchen to providing toiletries, backpacks and Christmas gifts to the Stand Up for Kids organization in downtown San Diego.

In one week’s time, the school community donated more than $1,200 to the Philippine disaster relief effort after Typhoon Haiyan.

For more information, visit www.strosecvschool.com or call (619) 422-1121.

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