BALLSTON SPA– Members of the Saratoga County Kids Care Club collected over 3,500 gently used books for the club’s 2015 BookShare Service Project. [Read more…]
On Friday, May 31 Assemblyman Jim Tedisco met with students of Mrs. Lynn Fitzgerald’s 4th grade class from St. Mary’s School in Ballston Spa at the state Capitol. By the looks of things, the Assemblyman was as thrilled as the students.
For information on St. Mary’s visit the school online at www.smsbspa.org.
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By GREG HITCHCOCK
An estimated 90 people joined up in separate teams to compete for trivia master and best-themed team as St. Mary’s School held its first ever Winter Frenzy fundraiser on Saturday, Jan. 14 at the school on Thompson St. in Ballston Spa.
The winning team at the Winter Frenzy was Team Donnelly, hosted by St. Mary’s parents Mark and Lynn Donnelly.
“Events such as Winter Frenzy help put the fun in fundraiser,” Winter Frenzy Committee chairperson Meghan Barrow said. “We wanted to create a fun raiser which would support the school financially and bring the local community together as well.”
One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the school since the cost of putting on the Winter Frenzy was so low, Barrow said.
Attendees included parents of school students, St. Mary’s parishioners, and members of the Ballston Spa community who competed in events such as trivia games, contests, and raffles.
Parent Marie Hercamp said the event was fun for adults and more informal than the school’s annual gala.
“This is the first event put together that is fun for adults while raising funds for the school,” she said. “Events like this bring people closer together.”
St. Mary’s School Curriculum Coordinator Sister Ranah Phelan said the event helps parents with the cost of putting their children into a Catholic school setting.
Events like the Winter Frenzy help to provide scholarships for families in need, technology upgrades to classrooms, and to support the expansion of arts and extracurricular offerings while still ensuring that daily operating expenses are met.
Additional events for this year include the Big Heart Gala on Saturday, March 3 at The Vista at Van Patten Golf Course and Big Heart Day in May, a day of activities that celebrates all that is special about the school and its students. For details and ticket information on the events visit the school website at www.smsbspa.org.
St. Mary’s School is preparing for Catholic School Schools 2012, which begins on Saturday, Jan. 28 with a Children’s Mass at 4 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church and runs through Friday, Feb. 3. The theme for this year is “Catholic Schools: Faith. Academics. Service.”
The school will begin enrollment for the 2012-2013 academic year on Tuesday, Jan. 31. Enrollment for current year attendance is always available in classes that are not at maximum enrollment. Contact the school at 518-885-7300 to schedule a personal tour or visit the website for Open House and Tour information.
By GREG HITCHCOCK
What a terrific ride it has been! After three months of filming and scores of interviews, I can honestly say that the St. Mary’s parish documentary is finally completed.
Why, you may ask, did I take the trouble of filming such a seemingly ordinary and unassuming subject as a church? After all, we all know what churches are for, to pray in. Oh, but there is so much more to it.
I never considered myself a church-goer. And for the longest time, I may have even lost my faith in people and in God. Maybe because of the situation I was faced with dealing with my schizophrenia, an illness I have now fully recovered from. Maybe because I was too interested in my own selfish needs.
Anyway, when I was introduced to St. Mary’s Music Director Ann Vanderwerker and the choir, I was hooked. They took me in and I became a regular member of the choir. More than that, the choir and the people of St. Mary’s restored my faith.
That was the starting point of the idea for a church documentary. I needed to record on video the people of St. Mary’s, both within the church and the school. This was like giving a little something back to a parish that has provided me with so much, namely faith and fellowship.
This video rarely touches upon Roman Catholic, or even Christian, theology; it is not preachy. Rather, it is a story about the life of the parish, both in the church and at the school. Vignettes of life captured live on video as a record of what goes into the making of a parish in Upstate New York in the early 21st century. Someone in the film said St. Mary’s School is family-oriented. This is part of what the film conveys, individuals and families at work and at play.
This documentary has been a labor of love to me. I have learned a lot about coordinating people, scheduling time, shooting and editing video, and finding ways to improve on the process, all the while managing my other personal and professional responsibilities such as my work as the Town of Ballston reporter for The Ballston Journal.
What makes a good documentary? People! People! People!
People are essential in any undertaking, particularly in a big, all-consuming project like a filmed documentary. If it wasn’t for all the volunteers who helped me, from my narrator Clare Daly to my photographer Katherine Murphy, I know this film would not have been made.
Special thanks go to Sister Nancy Schmidt and Meghan Barrow for placing their confidence in me and directing me to the right people and places.
Audrey Bopp Hauprich has also been of special importance to this project. If it wasn’t for her past work putting together a history of St. Mary’s Church, it would have been nearly impossible to finish.
Finally, I wish to thank Father Thomas J. Kelly for accepting my request to film at the church and the school. He has been very gracious in his patience as I went along with my camera to the various classrooms, ministry meetings and choir rehearsals.
As one of the parishioners in the documentary said, Father Kelly can relate to all people of the Catholic faith, from the lapsed to the devout; Father Kelly said he is not here to judge people, but rather to help them. I truly believe it.
The video will be donated to St. Mary’s Parish Library, the Town of Ballston Community Library and the Ballston Spa Free Library for the public’s enjoyment. I will carry on my new-found skills with future video projects, but I will never forget the one that has made all the difference to me – St. Mary’s.
By SAM CAPUANO
I love hearing about local students excelling. I love to write about it too, because more often than not, I learn something in the process, and meet some interesting people.
So, last week when my friend Tonya informed me about a group of St. Mary’s students competing in something called Odyssey of the Mind, I jumped at the chance. If only because it has a really cool acronym, OotM.
Odyssey of the Mind is a creative team problem-solving competition involving students from kindergarten through college. Their official Web site notes the participants actually have fun in the process, and has helped teachers generate excitement in their students. Given the pressures students, and teachers for that matter, typically go through, a little fun and excitement is a beautiful thing, right?
I spoke last week with the St. Mary’s OotM Coach, Sue Olszewski, and there was no question about the excitement part. She started the OotM program at the school three years ago. She first became interested in the program when one of her older children participated in the competition while in the Ballston Spa School District.
“My middle daughter Jennifer Gardner was involved in Odyssey of the Mind through the Ballston Spa Schools from fifth grade through twelfth grade, and I knew I wanted my youngest daughter to experience the same challenges and team building experiences this program offers,” said Olszewski. “When she was in third grade, I went to the school, and offered to coach one team, and that year there was enough interest for three teams from St. Mary’s School.”
Her first team placed fourth, while last year’s finished third. This year, though they moved to the top, as the team of seven students placed first at the competition (held Saturday, March 5, at Hudson Falls High School) against a field of 12 teams from area schools. Quite an accomplishment for a small school of 220 students.
Olszewski told me the team; Noelle Olszewski, Maura Smith, Lauren James, Ashley Ostrander, Olivia Lawrence, Moriah Nichols and Alexandra Lay, were quite excited with their winning performance. Well, that may be an understatement, as she said, “the girls were besides themselves, while jumping up and down and screaming.”
The girls on the team chose “Le Tour Guide” as the category of their problem. There was a list of about a dozen characters from classic literature they had to choose, and they picked Peter Pan. Most of the other groups apparently chose the Wicked Witch of the West. There’s a message there, somewhere. Their category also had the most schools competing in the Regional Competition, making the first place finish all the more impressive.
Co-Coach Marc Grace guided the team in Hudson Falls. He is a fourth grade teacher at St. Mary’s School, who plans to continue the program at the school next year. Olszewski was actually in the Dominican Republic on a Medical Mission Trip, but was on the phone with the team all day long. When she received the text message seconds after they won, she was both screaming and crying for joy.
The girls were equally excited. Ashley Ostrander, who is participating for the first time this year, said her first thought was: “Holy Smokes, we won!”
Noelle Olszewski, who has been on the team all three years, said, “I was so excited when we won. My sister did this when she was younger for eight years, and now I get to do what she’s done and go to the state competition.”
The New York State competition will be held this Saturday, March 25th at SUNY Binghamton. St. Mary’s will face off against 15 other schools from around the Empire State. The winner of the state competition will then head to the World Finals, which will be held in Baltimore this year.
It goes without saying, but, good luck, St. Mary’s.