St. Andrew earns Blue Ribbon status

MYRTLE BEACH — The following information about St. Andrew School was provided by Molly Halasz, principal.

History: Msgr. Richard Madden’s dream of a Catholic school for St. Andrew Parish became a reality in 1956 when two classrooms and an auditorium were opened. By 1962 the school had expanded to eight classrooms and included grades one through eight. The school was originally staffed by the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy. When they left in 1973, the Little Franciscan Sisters of Mary of Worcester, Mass., took over. In 1989 a third addition allowed the school to add a kindergarten room, computer lab and science lab. Today the school is staffed by lay educators.

Principal: Molly Halasz.

Number of students: 239, with a capacity of 241.

Faculty: The school has 12 full-time and five part-time teachers.

School motto: Faith, Love, Learning.

Grades: Kindergarten through eighth-grade.

Hours: 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

After-school program: The after-school program runs until 5:30 p.m. and offers snacks, homework time, outdoor and indoor play, socialization and fellowship.

School meals: We have a school cook, Mrs. Acker, who prepares a hot lunch for us every day. The cost is $2 per day and includes milk.

School colors: Navy and white.

Mascot: Crusaders.

Sports: Co-ed soccer, girls’ volleyball, basketball, golf and cheerleading.

Let us brag: St. Andrew School enjoys an excellent reputation in the Grand Strand community. Local high schools that receive our graduates praise their fine academic preparation, excellent study skills, leadership qualities, and kind and polite personalities.

Foreign language: All students learn conversational Spanish; grades sixth-eighth take Spanish as an academic subject.

Advanced classes: St. Andrew’s eighth-graders may earn high school credit in algebra, Spanish and keyboarding.

Academic teams: Students compete annually in Math Counts, the Geography Bee, the regional Spelling Bee, the Lt. Governor’s essay contest and the Optimist Club Oratory Competition.  

Facilities: Our school is a one-story structure with a new gymnasium at the rear of the property. We are only one block from the beach.

Biggest change over the years: Finally having our own gym! Now we can have “home” games and a great place to practice.

What sets us apart: St. Andrew is small enough to provide a personal, family atmosphere.

Community projects: The families here provide monthly support to Help 4 Kids, a community organization which aids our area poor. Our Peanut Butter & Jelly Brigade students make sandwiches for the Community Kitchen. The students support Birthright and Grand Strand Citizens for Life through a baby bottle change collection, which is combined with school-wide Rosaries for Life daily prayer. Our school’s instrumental group and choirs visit local nursing homes. The Student Council Service Club leads many school service projects including Christmas family adoptions, Thanksgiving food donations, and supportive letters and gifts for military personnel.

Our parish: Our parish is St. Andrew and our pastor was Msgr. Chet Moczydlowski, who was assigned to St. Benedict in Mount Pleasant recently. Father Timothy Gahan was assigned as administrator pro tem on Jan. 11. St. Andrew also serves Our Lady Star of the Sea in North Myrtle Beach, St. James in Conway, and St. Brendan in Shallotte, N.C.

Wishes for our school: Our building is over 50 years old and needs both enlargement and remodeling. We hope to replace all the windows, upgrade the electrical wiring, enlarge the library, build larger administrative offices with plenty of storage, and add a larger kindergarten room, an art room, a music room and a clinic.

How we demonstrate the Catholic faith: Students demonstrate their faith through weekly Mass attendance, daily prayer, an attitude of gentleness toward others and stewardship and service to school, church, family and community.

Our top awards or honors are: We were named a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 2005; this designation is valid through 2010. Last year, eight of our students were recognized as South Carolina Junior Scholars based upon their high PSAT scores and we had one student who received state recognition as a Duke University TIP Scholar. This recognition is based on high SAT scores. Two of our students won the Lt. Governor’s essay contest.

Music/art programs: We have instrumental instruction and a band program. There is performance choir for our seventh- and eighth-graders, and children’s choir for the younger students. Dramatic productions culminating in a Shakespearean play are produced each spring. All students plan school liturgy and develop a meaningful dramatic adaptation of faith lessons inspired by the Gospel.

Teacher awards: Our middle school language arts teacher was awarded national certification after completing a rigorous two-year accreditation process.

Average scores on the IOWA test: Our scores place us in the top 10 percent of the nation as defined by the Council for American Private Education.

Alumni of national or local note: Many local leaders, doctors, lawyers and business people are St. Andrew graduates.

Do you have programs for students with disabilities? We have the “Idea Room,” which is used for children who need academic help, and for enrichment for gifted students. Our reading specialist leads these groups five days a week.

What percentage of students are Catholic? 83 percent.