Values like faith, trust, acceptance, safety, mutual respect and open mindedness are found in this family: The Mount St. Joseph Academy family.

Students, teachers, staff and alumni alike agree the Rutland Catholic high school is like a family.

And they don’t use that word lightly.

For junior Rory Carrara, “like a family” means acceptance, genuineness and inclusiveness. “Growing up in my (extended) family, I always had the comfort of knowing that no matter what I wanted to do, what I wanted to say or what I wanted to be, I would have their support. At MSJ, it’s the same thing. I know I will have the support of the faculty, my friends and the staff behind me in any decision I make.”

What’s more, there is genuineness in each person’s attitude. “People here are happy to see you. … There’s always something to smile about,” she said.

Daniel Elliott, athletic director and an MSJ parent, said there is mutual respect among students and staff as well as a safe environment: “You can send your children to school here and know they will be looked out for as they would be at home.”

For him, what makes the school community a family is the MSJ bond all members share. Family, he said, is a group of people who share a bond: “They don’t have to be blood relatives.”

Bernadette Fuller, a member of the MSJ Class of 1970 and a current English literature teacher there, said to her the just-under-100-student school “feels close and comfortable like a family would feel.”

She appreciates how people care for one another, noting that during a recent snowstorm a student and a staff member brushed off cars. “That’s what people in a family do. We do things for one another.”

Students and staff attend Mass together weekly, and sharing faith is another way the school is like a family. “We’re a family in God, a family in faith,” Fuller said.

Even after graduation, many alumni come back to participate in sports practices, attend sporting events or participate in the annual Project Help food collection. “We are learning the traditions and history and morals” of the Church, and that leads to gratitude and acts of kindness, Rory said. “That makes people want to come back, like in a family. That’s your roots.”

The school, she added, is known in the community as a family: “It’s something we take pride in.”