School spirit soars to new heights at St. Andrew

MYRTLE BEACH – Molly Halasz, principal at St. Andrew School, proudly declares that her school has the best location in town, “one short block from the blue Atlantic Ocean!”

St. Andrew students, known as the Crusaders, literally cheered their way into Catholic Schools Week. Even nasty weather didn’t dampen school spirit at their Jan. 26 pep rally, and Monday was the day of the big game. St. Andrew was playing its archrival in basketball, Myrtle Beach Middle School … and the Crusaders won.

The basketball program at St. Andrew began in 1990. Halasz is very proud of how well the boys’ and girls’ teams are doing. “They are getting better and better every year,” she says, and gives the credit to the two coaches. Physical education teacher Tommy Rollings coaches the boys’ team, and science and math teacher Christopher Jenkins coaches the girls’ team.

Halasz says St. Andrew’s basketball teams are competitive with teams from their large public school rivals, which is quite a feat considering the Crusaders have no gymnasium to practice in and a pool of only 60 students to draw from. Myrtle Beach Middle School has a gym and a student body of more than 800 students. Last year — for the first time ever — the boys’ team beat its rival.

Homeroom mothers were looking for new ideas to build school spirit when one woman suggested spelling something on the school’s chain-link fence with plastic cups. Kathy Mikolajczyk, one of the homeroom mothers, discussed the idea with Elizabeth Marinaro, the eighth-grade student in charge of school spirit. The two finally settled on “Be a Greater Crusader.” Mikolajczyk particularly liked this message because it would give the children “something to ponder … how to be a better servant of God.”

Participating students paid 25 cents per cup, and soon 1,100 blue plastic cups spelled their message on a fence around the playground and a second fence visible to all who passed the church on 37th Avenue.

The money raised will be donated to the parish capital campaign for renovations, a major addition to the school building, and a parish activity center with a gymnasium.

St. Andrew School was founded in 1956. The school has 224 students from kindergarten to eighth grade. Because the school is small, Halasz says, there are lots of opportunities for students to be involved.

Most students who graduate from St. Andrew continue their education at public high schools.

Many parents from both St. Andrew and St. Michael School in Garden City would like to see a Catholic high school in the Grand Strand, an idea confirmed by the school families who participated in a series of town hall meetings at St. Andrew Church last spring.