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Good Shepherd basketball coach's success

Two hundred wins as The Good Shepherd Catholic School boys’ middle school basketball coach: It’s a milestone Daniel Hughes deserved to reach, said Dimitri Fischer, a seventh grader on his team. “He’s giving up his time to help the team,” he elaborated. “It shows Good Shepherd is a small school but we can win.”
 
And under the guidance of Hughes – in his 11th year coaching at the St. Johnsbury Catholic school team – Good Shepherd had logged 203 wins and only 62 losses as of Feb. 27.
 
The coach’s 200th win came Feb. 1 with a win over Concord School, 48-30.
 
Player Colby Garey-Wright had told the coach the night before the milestone game that it would be a special day: Colby’s birthday and the coach’s 200th win. The seventh grader celebrated his birthday sinking 25 points into the winning effort.
 
Before each game Hughes and his players pray the Hail Mary. “We pray…so nobody gets hurt and we play a good game,” Colby said. “It’s special. The whole team does it.”
 
There are 10 members of the seventh- and eighth-grade team this season; they play local middle school teams in the northern Vermont and New Hampshire area as well as St. Francis Xavier School in Winooski.
 
“Before every game we say the Hail Mary enthusiastically as a team,” Hughes said. “We pray to play the best we can. … I don’t think they’d feel comfortable taking the court without saying the Hail Mary first.”
 
Principal Lynn Cartularo called Hughes “a great example of faith.” The school has an all-female faculty and staff, so he is a good male role model. He shows his players the importance of prayer, and “they know God is their guide,” she said.
 
Hughes, a parishioner of Corpus Christi Parish who attends St. John the Evangelist Church in St. Johnsbury, served on the parish council there. He is president/owner of Celtic Marketing Food Brokers, located across the street from the church.
 
He and his wife, Mary, a teacher at Good Shepherd School and the boys’ basketball team scorebook keeper, have three children and one grandchild.
 
Hughes played basketball in junior and senior high school in Peru, N.Y., but at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., played rugby while earning a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing. He graduated in 1979.
 
When his son, Brendan, was a sixth grader at Good Shepherd Catholic School, he volunteered his father to help with the basketball team. Hughes laughed when he recalled that as the assistant coach, he and the head coach had one practice together with the team before the coach told Hughes he had to be away on business for six weeks. When he came back, the team had “become my team at that point,” Hughes said.
 
Through the years, he has had several assistant coaches, including Brendan when he was in high school.
 
Many of Hughes’ former players return to support the Good Shepherd team and their former coach. Current and past players signed his 200th-win basketball – about 30 signatures.
 
“I was only going to coach for a year,” Hughes said. “But I got attached to the kids. It’s very rewarding. They all come with different abilities. For some, this is the highlight of their basketball career in seventh and eighth grade. They don’t play in high school. For others, they’ve done very, very well in high school.”
 
Hughes began this season with 193 wins.  But it’s not about winning. “It has always been about the kids,” he said. “We talk a lot about being a team and not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. They grasp that concept.”
 
Before each game he tells his players to play hard, play smart as a team and have fun. “You gotta have fun,” he said with a smile.
 
And he is clear about priorities: “The first priority is God,” he emphasized. Second is family, third is schoolwork and fourth is basketball. …Video games are not in the top four.”
 
Eighth grader Carter Gingue said not only has he learned about the game of basketball from Hughes but about teamwork and leadership.
 
“The word is out. Good Shepherd is a [basketball] force to be reckoned with,” Cartularo said. Hughes “is a local celebrity in the basketball world, and he’s a blessing for us.”
 
  • Published in Schools

Energy efficiency at Mount St. Joseph Academy

Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland is becoming more energy efficient, and that effort has gotten a boost from two bequests.
 
The bequests from alumni total more than $200,000.
 
“MSJ is looking to become more energy efficient. We have zeroed in on improving our heat efficiency by purchasing temperature controls, in particular for our gym,” explained Principal Sarah Fortier.
 
In addition, new doors for the gym that will not allow heat to escape will be purchased and heat loss because of large windows will be addressed.
 
The school will have an energy audit to help determine other areas of concern.
 
Mount St. Joseph Academy has been focused on energy efficiency for the past year.
 
“I am focused on preserving energy because how we treat our environment now will affect the children of the future,” said Fortier, who has been principal since 2014.
 
She mentioned a quote displayed in the school that states, "We did not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrowed it from our children."
 
“I don't think a truer statement could be made. We need to make these changes so that the future is preserved environmentally for the generations to come,” she commented.
 
She said it is time for the school to make environmentally friendly changes. “There is no need to waste fuel for example. Fuel is a natural resource. As Catholics we believe in preserving the environment. Making changes to the building that will help do just that is not only providing a positive example to our students but it is also practicing our Catholic faith,” she said.
 
Through the energy-saving measures, the school has been “substantially cutting down on fuel costs,” Fortier said. “It is about more than saving money. It is about practicing our Catholic ideals. We are called to take care of the Earth. Making changes to the building that help us to do this shows that we care about the future.”
 
 
  • Published in Schools

A new chapter set to begin in life of former St. Joseph School in Burlington

The next chapter in the life of the former St. Joseph School is unfolding.
 
Champlain Housing Trust -- a non-profit organization that creates and preserves affordable housing -- plans to purchase the Allen Street building for $2 million and ensure its continued use for community programs.
 
The building was once a parochial school attached to St. Joseph Parish.
 
“In the six years that have elapsed since 2010 [when the school closed], the expenses have continued to climb, trying to maintain the old building in good condition, so the decision to offer it up for sale to the Champlain Housing Trust proved mutually agreeable and beneficial to both parties,” said Father Lance Harlow, rector of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception parishes. “The building will continue to serve families in the North End of the city which has always been its purpose.”
 
Since the school closed, the building has been used for various activities such as a children’s center, an association of Africans, a parent-child center, indoor events and a theater.
 
The parish has used the building for religious education classes and various church functions.
 
There was Catholic education in St. Joseph Parish even before the construction of the school. In 1863, the Daughters of the Heart of Mary (also known as the Ladies of Nazareth) arrived in Burlington and taught students in a woodshed until 1864 when they opened their school and convent on Gough Street, near North Prospect and Archibald Street.
 
In 1869, the sisters built another school, the first Nazareth School on Allen Street, for the younger children. They ran both schools until they merged in 1924 on Allen Street.
 
“The current building was enlarged in 1929 and was called the Ecole Nazareth, presumably in honor of the Ladies of Nazareth,” Father Harlow explained. “In 1961, the name was changed to St. Joseph School simply for administrative purposes.”
 
St. Joseph School operated under the supervision of the Ladies of Nazareth until 1943 then under the charge of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit until 1983.
 
“Decreasing enrollment over the course of several decades, decreased numbers of religious teaching sisters, higher salaries for lay employees and difficulties meeting expenses finally resulted in the closing of the school in 2010,” he continued.
 
 
While the building no longer functioned as a school since its closing, classroom space was leased to various non-profits.
 
“The parish is greatly indebted to the valiant religious sisters, brothers, priests and laity who devoted their lives to the education of the children in downtown Burlington,” Father Harlow said. “And while buildings come and go throughout the course of human history, the heroism of those who made history in those buildings remains to be told from one generation to the next.”
 
The Champlain Housing Trust is leasing the building until June at which point it must pay in full. “The impending sale of the school has brought financial relief for the co-cathedral and will enable it to direct its resources to other projects,” Father Harlow said.
 
  • Published in Parish

Teachers, catechists honored at Year of Mercy celebration

BURLINGTON—More than 100 teachers and catechists attended the Jubilee for Catechists and School Teachers at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral on Sept. 18 to honor, bless and celebrate Catholic educators and their selfless call to teach young people about the love and mercy of God.
 
“I have been very moved by this Year of Mercy in our diocese,” said Sister of Mercy Laura DellaSanta, principal of Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington. She appreciates how the people of the Diocese of Burlington come together for the special monthly events that recognize, affirm and pray for people involved in various ministries. “It unites us and strengthens us.”
 
Among those in attendance at the celebration for educators were Catholic school teachers and administrators, parish religious educators, directors of religious education, home schooling parents and students.
 
Following the celebration at the co-cathedral, attendees enjoyed refreshments and displays shared by various schools and parishes that represented aspects of their curriculum dedicated to passing on the Catholic faith.

For more information about the Jubilee for Catechists & School Teachers click here.
 
  • Published in Diocesan

Pre-school connects love of God with teachers, parents, students

While some children napped in a dimly lit classroom at St. Edward's Preschool, others, across the hall, drew and practiced printing their ABC's.

Theresa Forbes, the director as well as a teacher, listened to the boys and girls recite the letters after they had traced them with a marker on a preprinted sheet.

There are 23 children ages three to five enrolled at the school, and eight elementary-age children are enrolled for pre-school and/or after-school care. Not all are there everyday.

They are under the care of two full-time and two part-time teachers; the teacher-student ratio is usually 1:7.

"I pride myself on hiring dedicated teachers that model and demonstrate respect and love of self and others," Forbes said. "They model the Lord's 'Golden Rule' to love one another, and the Lord gets the credit for their personal talents."

Vocationist Father Patrick I. Nwachukwu, administrator of Mater Dei Parish, which includes St. Edward Church in Derby Line, said his hope for the school is that children will "be good Catholics and good Christians, solid in faith and morals."

He also wants them to be good citizens "who can be responsible and trustworthy" with bright futures and promising careers.

The children spend the morning separated by age groups: 3 and 4 and 4 and 5. They are combined for the afternoon, after some have had a nap.

Amy Frizzell Sherlaw of Derby has sent her children to St. Edward's Preschool since it opened; she has four children, and three of them have gone or are currently enrolled at St Edward's. The youngest is two and will go when he is old enough.

A member of Plymouth Congregational Church in East Charleston, she attended a Catholic college and taught at a Catholic school. "The quality of education that you receive at a Catholic school is second to none," she said. "I wanted my children to attend preschool in a safe, welcoming, learning environment. I wanted to be sure that they would be respected and valued. I wanted them to learn academically but also socially. We found such a place at St. Edward's Preschool. It offered all of these things and is close to my home. St. Edward's was the right fit for my family."

St. Edward's Preschool is a licensed preschool program that operates under the guidelines/requirements of the State of Vermont. The curriculum corresponds with the state standards, and the child-assessment system used is Teaching Strategies Gold.

By using this combination of educational objectives and developmental domains, teachers can enhance/encourage proper developmental growth that fits each child's learning style.

Their education focuses on areas that include social-emotional growth, language development, cognitive skills, literacy, math, science, technology and social studies.

"The local schools have said we have done well preparing them for kindergarten," Forbes said.

"My children are well prepared for kindergarten both academically and socially," Sherlaw said. "When they left preschool they could identify their numbers and letters. They could match numeral to quantity and knew the sounds each letter makes. They built lasting friendships and were well prepared" for kindergarten.

St. Edward's Preschool opened in the St. Edward Parish Hall in 2007; Forbes and then-pastor Father Yvon Royer founded it after Sacred Heart School in Newport closed. Forbes had been a pre-school teacher there. "Parents wanted a private, full-day program," she said.

"The Lord has a plan and purpose for each one of us. I always pray that He places children and families in our program that He knows need our teachers' faith and love not just our educational skills," said Forbes, a parishioner of Mater Dei Parish St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Newport. "In a world with much pain, sorrow and demands, we all need the Lord's guidance, prayers and mercy."

Jesus' love for everyone is emphasized at St. Edward's, where children are taught to love and accept everyone. "They are all shining stars and all special," she said of her students. "They are all God's children."

"Our program may only be a small part of our students' lives, but through encouragement, respect, hope and love we become a significant part of the Lord's plan," she said. "As director, I look at our priests and sisters as spiritual leaders. When we work together with our teachers and parents, we can make the connection of the word of God and love of Christ."

Melissa Scherer of Newport has one child in the preschool. "The education students receive is extraordinary," she said. "They not only receive standards-based education but Christian values as well."

Sister of Mercy Laura Della Santa, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Burlington, said it is important to have a Catholic preschool in as many areas of the state as possible. "It plants the seeds of faith, love and knowledge of Jesus that we hope the children will continue to develop," she said.

For more information about St. Edward's Preschool, call (802) 873-4570.
  • Published in Diocesan
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