Teachers, students and parents say farewell to school with closing Mass
St. Joseph Regional School passed into history Monday, as its students, faculty, staff and friends gathered for a closing Mass.
"The doors of St. Joseph Regional Catholic School were always open to all, likened to open arms with an open heart and an open mind," seventh-grade teacher Michelle Smith read to those gathered in the Port Vue sanctuary of St. Mark parish.
"Now, as the doors close," Smith said, "open your heart, your mind and your soul to the memories."
Out of 128 students, 11 will move on from the eighth grade to high school, while close to 100 are among the 330 who have registered to join a newly merged Mon-Yough Catholic School in what now is St. Angela Merici School White Oak.
"As a parent, I'm not happy with the closing," said Glassport deputy police chief Shawn DeVerse, a member of the St. Joseph Regional school board. As the father of three youngsters attending the merged school, however, DeVerse said he's "looking forward to a better education for my kids."
Out of 11 teachers, two are retiring.
"Everyone in both schools who wanted a job is hired," principal Dianne Tima said. "I will be retiring, but I will be there to help the transition."
Tima served at St. Joseph Regional for three years, coming to Port Vue from the principal's post at St. Louise de Marillac in Upper St. Clair.
"It's bittersweet," Tima said. "This has been an exceptional place for children to grow spiritually, academically, in every way."
She offered "a great big thank you to all the parents and all the alumni for all that they have contributed to the education of children here."
"I'm just happy that we are able to provide quality Catholic education," eighth-grade teacher Sally Gooch said. "I'm thrilled to be a part of that."
Gooch also will be able to continue to promote understanding between Catholic and Jewish communities at the new school. She has held numerous classes and programs dealing with the Holocaust.
"I am choosing no longer to teach," said Danette Hopkins, a grandmother who taught music and also is an organist at St. Patrick's in Christy Park.
One of her last acts at St. Joseph Regional was to play the organ for the Mass concelebrated by the Rev. Kris Stubna, outgoing diocesan secretary for education, and seven priests from the consortium of churches that will support Mon-Yough Catholic.
Stubna told those gathered that he will become the new pastor of St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland. That will take effect July 9.
On Monday, however, he was guiding a flock of youngsters in a conversational homily about Catholic education.
"How many of you think it is a blessing to go to a Catholic school?" he asked the students. Most raised their hands.
"Why is it a blessing?" he asked.
"We get to talk to God," one youngster said.
"You can learn religion," another said. "You can learn all about Jesus, all about the Holy Spirit, and all about the Catholic faith."
"Wow, you get a gold star today," Stubna replied.
St. Mark's pastor the Rev. Daniel T. Straughn was among the concelebrants.
In Sunday's parish bulletin, Straughn countered the online petition opposing the name of the merged school.
"Many of our regional schools are named geographically and include the word ‘Catholic' to identify the nature and mission of the school," Straughn wrote.
In the prayers of the faithful during the Mass, first-grade teacher Susan Anselmo offered an intention "for Mon-Yough Catholic, that it may grow in wisdom and strength, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit."
The response was, "Saint Joseph, patron of our school, pray for us."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McKeesport convenience store sells winning ticket
- Elizabeth Bridge to receive $17.1M rehabilitation
- Bridge rehab is largest Mon-Yough project
- Elizabeth prepares for first-ever farmers market
- Steel Valley School District considers measures to bus students
- Summer workers help fight Mon Valley neighborhood blight
- U.S. Steel looks to expand Research & Technology Center in Munhall
- Residents express thanks to Allegheny County Housing Authority
- Steel Valley school board president seeks donation policy