July 1, 2010 was a sort of homecoming day for me. After attending Catholic schools in Biddeford, Maine and Pascoag, Rhode Island followed by Providence College and St. Francis College, I taught at St. Dominic Regional High School from  1971 to 1972. After that, I had a long, rewarding career as a public school teacher and administrator in Belfast, Mechanic Falls, Poland, Minot, Turner, Leeds and Greene. My career came full circle when I officially started as the new assistant principal with a focus on the elementary campus of Saint Dominic Academy. I must say that after almost four decades of silently praying in public schools, it is an uplifting privilege to lead the students and staff in prayer and scripture reading every morning.

July 1 was also the start of a new era in Catholic schools in the Lewiston-Auburn area when the elementary schools, which were once St. Peter/Sacred Heart, St. Joseph, Holy Cross and Holy Family and later Trinity Catholic School, combined with Saint Dominic Regional High School to become Saint Dominic Academy.

From the elementary school point of view, this has been an ideal transition, with only pluses for the pre-K to 6th grade students at the Lewiston campus at 17 Baird Avenue behind Holy Cross Church.

The top 10 reasons why I think this has been a wonderful outcome for the elementary students are:

1. Students have a sense of belonging to the pre-K -12 Academy, looking up to the junior/senior high school students and looking forward to being students there.

2. Students go to the Auburn campus for Opening Day Mass and other special occasions with all the students of the pre-K -12 Academy.

3. Students consider the Auburn junior/senior high school campus their school, using the facilities for the annual Christmas pageant and other events.

4. With the Auburn Campus, students share the visionary leadership of Mr. Fournier, the principal, who provides guidance and support to the students, parents and staff on site for at least a part of every day.

5. Students experience weekly Mass with the inspiring chaplain team of Father Bob Vaillancourt and Deacon Steve Harnois whom the students cannot help but love.

6. Students receive the benefits of the services of an outstanding teaching staff most of whom have taught in Catholic schools for over 15 years of dedicated work in Catholic education. Teachers, staff and administrators have a “Make Their Day Attitude” that shows each student and parent that they are important to the learning community.

7. The students take the same NWEA testing that many other Maine school students take to drive continuous academic improvement for the students to achieve the National Standards and the traditional Catholic vision on which our curriculum is based.

8. Students work in an orderly and disciplined learning environment, which is based on Christian values of love and charity.

9. Students have a rigorous academic program that challenges them and prepares them through differentiated instruction for academic excellence.

10. The school is welcoming and inviting to parents. A morning greeting at the door from the principal or assistant is a regular occurrence. Parents are encouraged to take their child to his or her teacher in the morning and have a chance to visit in the afternoon. Parents come to school to have lunch with their child – a few almost weekly, others on their child’s birthday or other special occasion. 

On a personal note, a lot of work was done before I became involved in the final stages of this transition. As the new elementary campus assistant principal, I have had a chance to see first hand the quality of the teaching and learning in the elementary school. Learning is purposeful and prayerful. Every week a Mass is planned for the students. Starting with first grade, each grade prepares the readings and leads the music for a Mass in a six-week rotation. Each grade participates in a day of retreat planned by the religion committee and teachers. Every day includes a class in religion along with the rigorous math, reading, language arts, science and social studies lessons. Every week includes lessons in art, gym, computer, and music as well as a visit to the library. The students and parents care for each other and the school. The student body is a community of learners who are encouraged on a daily basis to, “Make it a good day” for themselves and others by doing their best work and showing the light of Christian love to everyone around them. Parents and other adults give over 400 volunteer hours of services to the school each month.

Interested families are invited to visit the school anytime. Please contact us by phone 783-9323 or by e-mail through the website www.st-dominic.net to set up a visit. I would be glad to give you a tour of my new home and to talk with you personally to discuss how Saint Dominic Academy will make a difference for your child.

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