Tuesday, May 29, 2007

St. Peter Claver graduates first class since reopening

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From left, eighth-graders Abigail Awode and Allias Porter work on vocabulary during language arts class at St. Peter Claver School in St. Paul. They will be in the school’s first graduating class since it reopened five years ago.

Seven eighth-graders at St. Peter Claver School in St. Paul will make school history June 5 as the first graduating class since the school reopened in 2001.

“It’s a very proud day for the parish,” said Father Kevin McDonough, pastor of St. Peter Claver.

St. Peter Claver School first opened in 1950 to serve the urban, majority African-American community of St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, St. Peter Claver School flourished. But in 1989, it closed due to a lack of funding and dwindling enrollment.

In 2001, with strong parish support, St. Peter Claver School reopened with between 50 and 60 students in kindergarten through third grade. Each subsequent year, an additional grade level has been added. Today the student population consists of 150 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Principal Teresa Mardenborough came out of retirement from the St. Paul Public Schools to take control of the school in 2002.

“I prayerfully discerned whether or not to come to St. Peter Claver School because I knew what it was going to take” to make the school succeed, Mardenborough said. “I came to St. Peter Claver School purely because of my love for my parish and because there was a need I could help with.”

Though Mardenborough had intended to stay only for a short time, after five years, she said she has not regretted one day.

“When I see the way students are achieving, when I see how parents understand or are beginning to understand what we are trying to achieve, it makes it very clear to me why I came,” she added.

The first year Mardenborough was principal, she doubled enrollment. More than 20 students have been added each year since 2002.

The first and second grades have reached their capacity for the 2007-2008 school year. Other grade levels are nearing capacity, with students coming from all over the metro area, Mardenborough said. [...Snip] Catholic Spirit


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