Christ Our King/Stella Maris expands in size, spirit

MOUNT PLEASANT — The following information about Christ Our King/Stella Maris School was provided by Jean Moschella, principal.

History: Founded by Msgr. J. Laurence McLaughlin at the end of the 1940s, Stella Maris School began at Fort Moultrie with 54 students in kindergarten through second-grade. By 1953, it was moved to a new building in Mount Pleasant with 200 students through five grades. In 1974, with 350 students and eight grades, the school was renamed Christ Our King/Stella Maris School to reflect the new parish it would now also serve.

Principal: Jean Moschella.

Number of students: 735, which puts us at full capacity.

Faculty: The school has a staff totaling 65, consisting of 37 full-time and four part-time teachers, with academic aides, technology coordinators, and administration, guidance and support personnel.

School motto: Many Students, Many Blessings, Many Opportunities.
Grades: K-4 through eighth-grade.
Hours:  8 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.

After-school program: This program, staffed by a coordinator and three aides, is available until 6 p.m. and offers time for play outside and inside, homework, snacks and rest.

School meals: A local restaurant caterer prepares a hot midday meal for students who choose to order at a cost of between $3 and $4.

Colors: Blue and white.

Mascot: Crusader on horseback.

Sports: The school has over 300 students from third-grade up involved in basketball, cheerleading, tennis, volleyball, golf and track, all of which are offered on a competitive level. Middle school students participate in a football team sponsored through the local recreation department.

Let us brag: The 300-plus volunteers are a great source of pride for us. They can be found throughout the school — staffing the nurses station; serving in the library; running the volunteer workroom as they copy, collate and more for the  teachers; reading to the younger classes; and helping with field trips. This doesn’t even address the support we receive from their fund-raising efforts.

Foreign language: Spanish is offered to all students starting in first-grade.

Advanced classes: Both algebra and Spanish are offered in eighth-grade for high school credit.

Academic teams: There is a MathCounts team and we also participate in the National Spelling Bee, Geography Bee, Vocabulary Bee, and all available writing/essay contests, art competitions, music sessions and the Stock Market competition.

Facilities: The school was expanded and renovated in 1993 and 1996, and now houses three classes of each grade, a large media center, kitchen, music and art studios, and more. The Life Center was completed in 2002 and contains the new gym/auditorium and stage. A pavilion will be constructed this summer to serve as a lunch facility for the students.

Wishes for our school: That as we continue on our journey we remember to remain grateful for both our roots and our wings.   
Biggest change: The biggest changes have come in our growth in both enrollment and physical size. Having over 700 students enrolled for the last few years has represented a big change as well as a challenge to keep the classes as small as possible while retaining the tradition of personal attention to each child’s needs, which led to our growth in the first place.

What sets us apart: The school is fortunate to have a tradition of families willing to remain close, supporting us spiritually as well as materially, so that we can retain our strong Catholic identity while maintaining our rigorous academic standards.

Community projects: The school, through the “We Give Wednesday” program run in conjunction with the weekly school Mass, involves itself in a large number of contributions to local causes. Among the largest are those connected to area food banks, notably East Cooper Community Outreach in Mount Pleasant, St. John’s in North Charleston, and the Soup Kitchen in Charleston. Donations come directly from the children as part of our effort to teach them to live out their stewardship.

Our parish: We are the only Catholic school east of the Cooper River and we serve the three parishes of Christ Our King, Stella Maris and St. Benedict. Priests from our three parishes celebrate our weekly Masses and make visits to the school. The pastors are actively involved in the sacramental preparations for the students.

Awards: The school has 21 eighth-graders who qualified for the Bishop England Scholars designation this year. In essay contests, students have won the top places and gone on to win regional prizes in several contests. There also have been winners in area spelling and geography bees, and in MathCounts.

Average scores on the IOWA test:  The students score well above the national average each year.

What percentage of students are Catholic? 94 percent.