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Digital academy principal gets additional role: superintendent

The principal of the Diocese of Burlington’s new St. Therese Digital Academy has another assignment: superintendent of Catholic schools for the statewide diocese.

St. Therese Digital Academy, an online Catholic high school, opened its virtual doors in June in preparation for the fall semester. Through it, the rich tradition of a Catholic education can reach students in areas of the diocese that would not otherwise be able to access it.

Lisa Lorenz, who assumed responsibilities with the online academy in April, took over as Catholic schools chief on Aug. 1, replacing Sister of Mercy Laura DellaSanta who is the new principal of Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington.

“It is my intention to get [the digital academy] up and running this year and hire a new principal to take it over as the demands will soon increase,” Lorenz said. “That way I will be able to solely devote my time [to serving as] superintendent.”

There are 10 Catholic elementary, three Catholic high schools and one Catholic preschool in Vermont. 

Born in Okinawa to a military family, Lorenz relocated from Hanover, Penn., to Milton.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., in 1994; a master’s in moral theology from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Penn., in 1997; and a master’s in pastoral counseling from Loyola University in Baltimore in 2008.  She taught Catholic middle school, was an elementary school administrator and was coordinator for graduate school in school counseling and mental health.

She is a licensed counselor in Maryland and Vermont.  

Her work has included private and public schools working with at-risk children, adolescents and families in urban school settings and private practice providing counseling for children, adolescents and adults/couples. Her special areas of interest include academic success, depression and anxiety disorders, bereavement, anxiety, pastoral and spiritual concerns, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, behavior interventions for children/adolescents in home and school settings and animal assisted therapy.

“I have many years of experience in education and leadership on a variety of levels. I am a collaborative leader, a good listener and bring a skill set of being able to provide programmatic assessments and problem solving,” she said. “In addition, I have a deep love and passion for my faith, education and mental health and well-being.”

According to the new superintendent of Catholic schools, the biggest challenge that Catholic schools face in Vermont is sufficient enrollment and lack of resources.

“I plan on getting to know every school, the principals, teachers, students and families well,” she said. “Equally important is assessing our resources, talents and gifts, thinking outside the box, being creative and open-minded so that we support this important mission of the Church to help our families in bringing Catholic education to all who thirst” for it.

Her hobbies include running, hiking, kayaking and training her dogs in hopes they will become therapy dogs. She also enjoys cooking, playing piano, oil painting and taking long walks on dirt roads.

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic staff writer.

Sister DellaSanta named new Rice principal

Sister of Mercy Laura DellaSanta has moved her office  — but not far —  from the office of the superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Burlington on Joy Drive in South Burlington to the office of the principal at Rice Memorial High School on Proctor Avenue.

After two years as the chief administrator of Catholic education in Vermont — first as interim superintendent then as superintendent — she accepted the principal’s job after the resignation of Msgr. Bernard Bourgeois who has returned to parish ministry.

“I want to join everyone to continue the mission of Catholic education at Rice in a joyful community and in a Christ-centered environment with excellent academics and service to others,” she said. “I want to continue the tradition of high standards in a prayerful, caring community and to bring the school to the next level for our students of today to influence tomorrow.”

A former teacher and principal of Mater Christi School in Burlington, she was a first- and fourth-grade teacher in Milton for 13 years before entering the Sisters of Mercy in 1984. She also served as president of Walsingham Academy in Williamsburg, Va., and principal of St. Joseph Regional School in Keene, N.H.

Sister DellaSanta brings to her new role a love of education — particularly Catholic education — and a respect for the community of faith.  She has been successful with key components like academics, enrollment, finance and fundraising, and she has leadership experience.

“I know the nuances, the challenges and the alternatives to challenges [to Catholic education] and how to celebrate our success and develop long-range plans,” she said.

As principal, she will work to address financial challenges, build future leadership, keep facilities updated, provide an excellent education and continue to improve teacher salaries. Such challenges will be met with prayer and teamwork. “We all work together,” she said of the faculty, staff, pastors, parents, students and coaches.

Rice currently has about 440 students in grades nine through 12.

A Barre native, Sister DellaSanta graduated from Lyndon State College with a bachelor’s degree in education; she earned a master’s degree in education from St. Michael’s College in Colchester.

Asked why she made the change from superintendent to principal, she said she was asked to consider the principal’s job and felt she had the right gifts, experience and understanding of Rice and the greater Burlington community to bring to the school at this time.

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic staff writer.

Principal appointed in Barre

During her first year as principal of St. Monica-St. Michael School in Barre, Brenda S. Buzzell intends to support student learning, increase enrollment and promote continued community involvement.

The school was formed by the merger of St. Monica School in Barre and St. Michael School in Montpelier.

The two schools and the former Marian High School in Barre “have been pillars in these two communities for almost 100 years,” said the fourth-generation parishioner of St. Monica Church in Barre. “Many people in Central Vermont have fond memories of attending these schools that produced strong community leaders and solid community members.”

 Today St. Monica-St. Michael School — offering preschool through grade eight — continues to offer a quality educational alternative to public schools with a mission to empower students with spiritual, intellectual and physical growth.

A Barre native, Buzzell attended St. Monica School and Marian High School and graduated from Spaulding High School in Barre. A Vermont licensed educator, she earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Union Institute and University and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Vermont; she has more than 30 years of teaching experience in both public and private schools.

She is board chair of the Barre Town Middle and Elementary School, a member of the Barre Supervisory Union Board and is active with Vermont state organizations and committees to promote quality early care and education.

She comes to the St. Monica-St. Michael principal job from The Stern Center for Language and Learning where she spent 11 years as the Building Blocks For Literacy coordinator, instructor and master trainer. 

As a national presenter and master trainer, she traveled extensively throughout the United States bringing this research-based, research-proven early literacy program that teaches developmentally appropriate practices to childcare providers and preschool teachers. 

Buzzell co-authored the online Building Blocks For Literacy course, presented webinars and developed the undergraduate and graduate courses.

She brings to the principal’s job knowledge of educational research and best practices and her experience of teaching children in public and private schools as well as teaching adults to understand language and literacy development. 

“My school board experience has given me knowledge of best practice, policy development and financial responsibility,” she said.

Declining enrollment — a challenge shared with many public and private schools — is an area she will address as principal. “I am hoping to encourage families to register their children, knowing that we offer strong foundational skills in academics,” she said.

Buzzell’s appointment was effective July 1; she replaces Denise Maurice.

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic staff writer.

New principal appointed for Barre Catholic school

Brenda S. Buzzell, fourth-generation parishioner of St. Monica Church in Barre, is the new principal of St. Monica-St. Michael School in Barre.
           
Her appointment was effective July 1; she replaces Denise Maurice.
           
During her first year as principal of St. Monica-St. Michael School Buzzell, intends to support student learning, increase enrollment and promote continued community involvement.
             
St. Monica-St. Michael School – offering preschool through grade eight -- offers a quality educational alternative to public schools with a mission to empower students with spiritual, intellectual and physical growth.
           
A Barre native, Buzzell attended St. Monica School and Marian High School and graduated from Spaulding High School in Barre. She has more than 30 years of teaching experience in both public and private schools.
           
She comes to the St. Monica-St. Michael principal job from The Stern Center for Language and Learning where she spent 11 years as the Building Blocks For Literacy coordinator, instructor and master trainer. .
           
She brings to the principal’s job knowledge of educational research and best practices and her experience of teaching children in public and private schools as well as teaching adults to understand language and literacy development.
           
“My school board experience has given me knowledge of best practice, policy development, financial responsibility,” she said.
 

Rice Memorial High School takes golf championship

The high school boy's golf state championships took place June 8 at Ralph Myhre Golf Club in Middlebury, and the team from Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington came home winners.

In Division Two, Rice's Harrison Thayer won with an 82, and the team topped Harwood by 10 strokes to win the team title. Rice's Sam Myers scored an 84, tying with Jarek Hammerl of Harwood Union High School in South Duxbury for the second-best score in the division championship.

Athletics at Rice are an integral part of a student's development and allow students to discover their God-given abilities. Through athletics students develop a competitive spirit, leadership skills and pride in their community.

College of St. Joseph women's basketball team honoured

The State of Vermont introduced a joint resolution to congratulate the College of St. Joseph women's basketball team on winning the 2016 United States Collegiate Athletic Association D-II National Championship. The honor was officially presented at the statehouse April 15.

Rep. Thomas Terenzini addressed the House and members of the community in the gallery, expressing pride in the team's hard work, perseverance and close bond with one another.

"Although perhaps not as well-known as other Vermont college athletic teams, the 2016 College of St. Joseph Lady Saints women's basketball squad recently completed a memorable season, and this talented group of basketball players surmounted nearly every obstacle it encountered and defeated all its opponents, other than an NCAA Division I team, concluding with an amazing 31-1 record," the resolution read.

The team took home the United States Collegiate Athletic Association D-II National Championship in March, becoming the first team in the state to win a national title in basketball.

The Lady Saints also earned their second straight Yankee Small College Conference championship in 2016. The women had a near-perfect 31-1 overall record, with their only loss coming from NJIT, an NCAA Division I team. The national championship game marked their 29th consecutive win.

All eight members from the team, including four seniors, were present for the reading of the resolution: Shamari Brodhead, Chontayvia Kennedy, Arreonte Anderson, Regina Steele, Jazsala Laracuente, Nia Gilchrist, Elizabeth Turco and Kelly Festa.

The resolution also recognized Head Coach Chris Wood and Assistant Coach Ebony Jones, who was also on-hand to support her team.

The Lady Saints were presented with copies of the resolution and posed for pictures with members of the Legislature.

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College of St. Joseph baseball captures first USCAA national championship title

Just one year after the program's inception, members of the College of St. Joseph baseball team are national champions.

The Saints were awarded with the United States Collegiate Athletic Association national title after going undefeated in the series, including a 14-3 victory over Cincinnati-Clermont in the championship game May 12.

Senior Derek Osborne from Springfield shut down Cincinnati-Clermont in the ninth to wrap up a complete-game win.

Saints players rushed the field at the game's conclusion, celebrating in a pile behind second base. A number of players emerged from the revelry covered in shaving cream. After that scene settled, Saints players got the jump on Coach Bob Godlewski and doused him with the water bucket.

Derek Edge, Nestor Velazquez, Jordan Matos, Colin McLeod, Jared Morello, Kevin Rodriguez and Connor Martin were all big contributors in the team's championship win.

Junior shortstop Nick Rodriguez from New Britain, Conn., was named Tournament MVP. Alan Madsen, Tyler Kunzmann, Bill Brancatella and Connor Martin were named to the All- Tournament Team.

Seniors Nestor Velazquez, Justin Lemanski, Tyler Demers, Jordan Matos, Alan Madsen, Derek Osborne and Bill Brancatella accepted the national championship trophy.

The Saints finished the season 52-11 overall.

New Mater Christi principal

Patrick Lofton has been hired as the new president of Mater Christi School.

He was employed for 20 years as an associate superintendent of Catholic schools in Wisconsin and principal, teacher and fundraiser in Minnesota Catholic schools. Most recently, he was the executive vice president/chief operating officer of the National Catholic Educational Association in Virginia.

Lofton and his wife, Dr. Sheri Lofton, plan to relocate in Vermont. They have three college-age daughters. He is spending time in May and June in Burlington, sharing ideas with the principal of Mater Christi School, Anthony Fontana, and observing the school while it is still in session. His wife will spend some of that time transitioning out of her Virginia-based medical practice.

In his letter of acceptance, Lofton said: "As a lifelong Catholic educator, I am truly inspired by the history and legacy of the Sisters of Mercy and their efforts to found and support Mater Christi School. Your school has a long, proud and blessed history, as well as a promising future due to the dedication, sacrifice and unwavering commitment of the Sisters of Mercy as well as the larger community. I feel so very fortunate and privileged to be joining your community."

Rice H.S. Principal preparing for new assignment

Father–now Msgr.–Bernard Bourgeois had been teaching part time at Rice Memorial High School for eight years, beginning in 1998. During the last six he also had been pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Waterbury. On the first Sunday of Lent 2006, he received a phone call that changed his life.

The caller had been tasked with asking him if he were interested in being principal of Rice, the South Burlington Catholic high school. "I thought I was being called to be on the search committee! I knew instinctively that I should say yes. So I did," Msgr. Bourgeois recalled. "Before I knew it, (then Burlington) Bishop (Salvatore R.) Matano was announcing to this community that I was to be their next principal."

Since July 1, 2006, Msgr. Bourgeois has served as principal, instituting a voluntary daily Mass at the school, overseeing the revamping of academic departments and spearheading an $8.5 million capital campaign and school renovation.

But now he is preparing for a new assignment.

Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne has appointed Msgr. Bourgeois pastor of Christ the King and Immaculate Heart of Mary parishes in Rutland and St. Patrick's in Wallingford. "I am truly excited about this and look forward to parish ministry once again," he said.

His successor, Sister of Mercy Laura Della Santa, will become principal of Rice on July 1.

When he first became principal, Msgr. Bourgeois took time to observe the community of teachers and students. "It took me time to understand the daily operations of the school. While I knew the teaching staff of the school, I only knew the students whom I had taught," he said. "It was important they know me as principal, a much different role than teacher or chaplain. It was much like starting in a parish. I spent time at games, in classrooms and at meetings observing and learning to understand the community."

Msgr. Bourgeois was accustomed to spending long days at the school; in the winter he often got there in the dark and left in the dark. Arriving by 6:45 a.m. and leaving most days around 6:30 p.m. he'd stay longer if there was a night sporting event.

The greatest hurdles that the principal faced related to finances and enrollment. "Except for its athletic successes, Rice was one of the best kept secrets around here! So I immediately tackled enrollment and marketing," he said.

The school had about 390 students his first year; enrollment for the next school year is expected to be 440 (450 is the identified goal and maximum).

In addition to increasing enrollment, Rice has made "great strides" in the last 10 years, raising the Annual Fund "significantly," Msgr. Bourgeois noted.

Asked about his three greatest accomplishments as principal of Rice, Msgr. Bourgeois pointed to these:

1) He instituted voluntary daily Mass his first year, and it continues. "It goes to the heart and mission of who we are as a Catholic school," he said. While attendance varies, "it is a great way to start the day." The first official words of Rice Memorial High School every day are: "In the name of the Father."

"We begin our day in the Eucharist," he said. "Following that, the Catholic culture imbues the school and all of its life, from academics to athletics and beyond. Faith formation and community service are equal to the traditional academic pursuits of high school."

2) In the last 10 years, every academic department has revamped its programming to be consistent with a Catholic high school of 2016. Rice offers more electives, and technology is at the heart of the teaching and learning process. More than 90 percent of graduates attend college, prepared for college-level work. "We challenge our students to find their full, God-given potential," Msgr. Bourgeois said.

3) In the last few years, Rice raised $8.5 million in a capital campaign, and the school has been extensively upgraded for the first time since it was built in 1959. Updates included work on heating, ventilation and air conditioning; electrical; technology infrastructure; Americans with Disabilities Act compliance; and windows. "The building now has the look and feel of a 2016 high school and will serve many future generations of Rice students," Msgr. Bourgeois said.

His greatest joy as principal has been watching Rice students grow and mature. "It makes me feel good that I have some small part in the human and spiritual formation of these students," he said. "I watch them come in as insecure freshmen and see them snatch up their diplomas as confident young adults four years later. I feel very satisfied in my work when I see students be successful in whatever they're doing. It makes the hours and hours of meetings and whatever else worth it. It's a great place that I believe God has blessed with a marvelous teaching staff dedicated to our mission and other administrators who are deeply committed to their work and our students."

Msgr. Bourgeois experiences awe and wonder at what God is doing in the lives of these students: "As administrators and teachers, we are privileged that God has called us to do this work–which is His work. These are His students, not mine."

Msgr. Bourgeois grew up in Bennington and attended Sacred Heart Parish and School.

"I believe Catholic education is more relevant than ever," he enthused. "Catholic schools provide a base for morals and a relationship with God, both badly needed in life. It provides a foundation from which they will draw strength and inspiration in living out their lives. In a world that has turned to relativism as its approach to almost everything, the Church offers another way that is refreshing and steeped in His plan for the world. I believe Catholic schools are the most important ministry of evangelization we have today, second only to parishes themselves."

He encourages families to seek a Catholic education for their children: "Where else will they be introduced to the faith in such an intense manner? Where else will they be held to high standards of behavior and learning? Catholic schools are indeed a treasure."

As he concludes his assignment as principal of Rice Memorial High School, Msgr. Bourgeois is realizing how meaningful things are that he thought were just part of the job: Standing in the lobby every morning welcoming everyone to school for the day, attending games and drama events to cheer on the students, giving brief "homilies" on the intercom every morning, just smiling and saying "good morning" or "hello."

"The fact that I have raised lots of money, renovated a building or done anything pales in comparison to the simple fact of being present to the students and thus encouraging them at the key moments of their lives," he said. "While it is often unspoken, they know I care about them. For sure, this has been God's work. It has been a wonderful experience. I will miss it dearly, and Rice will always hold a special place in my heart and soul."

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic staff writer.

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