Prince of Peace is growing up the right way

TAYLORS — The following information about Prince of Peace School was provided by Michael Pennell, principal.

History: Bishop Robert J. Baker gave his blessing for the opening of our elementary school in 2002, which began with 46 students in kindergarten to second-grade in 2003. We have 191 enrolled for fall 2008. A group of dedicated families laid the groundwork for our mission.
Principal: Dr. Michael Pennell.

Number of students: 240 students; 165 in K-5 to sixth-grade and 75 in our Child Development Center K-2 to K-4.

Faculty: The school has 12 full-time and five part-time teachers. We have an aide for each of our kindergarten classes.
School motto: “Glory and Joy” (1 Thess. 2:19-20)

Hours: 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Early care begins at 7:30 a.m. and after-care runs until 6 p.m.

School meals: Students eat cafeteria-style in the gym with supervision from our “lunch buddy” volunteers. Milk is served and lunch is available from local vendors like Chick-Fil-A, Whole Foods and Papa John’s Pizza.
School colors: Red, white and blue.

Mascot: The Patriots.

Sports: POP students play church league basketball, and this year we began a cross-country team. We expect more sports as we grow to eighth-grade.

Let us brag: We are now in our fifth academic year and have added a grade each year since we started. We renovated our building, which has 14 classrooms with class sizes limited to 18. Teachers in fourth-grade up use laptops and Smart boards for lesson planning and instruction. We have certified and experienced faculty, a large outdoor play area with equipment, a new computer lab and library/media center, a gym and a beautiful 33-acre campus with gardens. Our children attend Mass in a new church building consecrated by Bishop Baker in 2003.

Foreign language: Spanish is taught beginning with our 3-year-olds, and Latin starts in fifth-grade. When our seventh-grade opens next year, they will have Spanish every day.

Academic teams: Our students participate in SCISA regional and state events such as Spelling Bee, Science Fair, and the Music Festival at USC. Sixth-graders participate in the Math-Fax competitions.

Advanced classes: When we add eighth-grade, our students will be able to take algebra and Spanish for high school credit.

Facilities: Our school building is the former religious education building and is integrated into the parish campus.

Biggest change over the years: Each year we add two classes to accommodate our rapid growth. This creates a “team” for each grade where co-planning and variety can increase lesson creativity and encourage teamwork for achieving curricular goals.

What sets us apart: When we say the classroom is our focus, we mean it. With the support we get from our parish, parents’ tuition dollars go directly to the classroom for teaching excellence. Our class sizes are kept small to increase teacher attention to each student, minimize distractions, and help students who might struggle.

Our parish: We have 1,200 active parish families under the direction of our pastor, Msgr. Steven Brovey. Our parish supports POP children by giving over $20,000 in financial aid each year and covering maintenance and utilities costs.

Wishes for our school: To continue welcoming new families who can help us complete our program of study for elementary and middle school students through eighth grade.

How we demonstrate the Catholic faith: Weekly mass is celebrated, students may go to confession, and all visit the Adoration Chapel. We celebrate feast days and holy days in the Church’s liturgical year and have processions such as the All Saints parade and May Crowning Procession. We have blessings, like the blessing of animals on the Feast of St. Francis, and pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays in Lent. We honor our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI every April on the anniversary of his election with letters and a cake. In service to others, our students visit seniors and collect food monthly for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Our PTO tithes 10 percent of its fund raising for donation to charities in our community.

Our top awards or honors: Students can earn Kiwanis “Terrific Kids” honors, NAESP’s President’s Award, class subject awards, and Presidential Physical Fitness certificates.

Music/art programs: We teach music and fine arts, and have two choirs and a drama club that performs two plays each year. We also have a fife-and-drum corps and dance club.

Average scores on the IOWA test: 80 percent of our students score above the national average, and 33 percent of those students scored in the top 10th percentile in the nation.

Do you have programs for students with disabilities? We have a professional speech therapist who visits our school each week.

What percentage of students are Catholic? 98 percent.