…and the Lion continues to ROAR
by Cate Murway
“Who said, who said
I won't be president
I say, I say
You ain't seen nothin' yet
You ain't seen nothin' yet”
During the latter half of the nineteenth century, St. Mark School evolved from a small one-room type educational setting to a fully staffed facility. From 1864-1867, a school of sorts was conducted in the parish house under the direction of Miss Hannah V. McAran. It was surely a temporary and most insufficient measure. The formal blessing and opening of St. Mark Parochial School was on December 27, 1887.
“There's no holding back
Hangin' right on track
Cuz you control the game
So let them know your name
There’s no limitation
Principal Angelina [meaning angel; messenger] Theresa [Frascella] Clair, Mother of Divine Grace grade school/John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls' H.S./Holy Family University/Antioch University exudes confidence, energy and ambition in her plans for the almost 200 students. Very little ever escapes her observation and deep understanding, and she has been recognized with the significant honor of “Who’s Who Among American Teachers” for the school years 99-00 and 03-04. Angie, named for her maternal grandmother, was previously a Principal at St. Casimir School for 6 years. Fueled and ignited with passion for music during her school years, this Port Richmond resident fashioned inspiring and lilting notes from the harp, piano, accordion and organ. She learned to speak Italian from her paternal grandmother, Cecelia.
Her late parents were Italian born Peter, a dye mixer and treasurer of the Union Dyemakers until he was employed at Penn Mutual Life Insurance in Philadelphia and Julianna, who worked in a hosiery mill in the city. Angie has one older sister, Huntingdon Valley resident Cecilia Liss, Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls graduate, who is a self-employed beautician. Her husband, James Francis Clair, Sr. is a retired print shop manager of the Hahnemann University Hospital. Their son, James Francis Clair, Jr. North Catholic H.S.’98, is a former employee of Pennco Tech and currently recruits for a technical school.
JAMES F. CLAIR Sr.
JAMES F. SR., Dec. 18, 2009 Beloved husband of Angelina, (nee Frascella) devoted father of James F. Clair Jr. dear brother of Edward, Lorraine Murphy, John and the late Anna, Margaret Potts and William Clair. Relatives and friends are invited to his Viewing Tues. eve. after 7 P.M. and Wed. 8 to 9:30 A.M. CASSIZZI FUNERAL HOME, 2913-17 E. Thompson St. (at Cambria) and his 10 A.M. Funeral Mass Mother of Divine Grace Church. Int. Holy Redeemer Cem. In lieu of flowers family prefers donations in his memory to Mother of Divine Grace Church.
With a kind gaze, Principal Clair recalls her first experience at St. Mark School.
“First thing I saw when I came in were smiles on the faces of the children”.
Angie formerly taught seventh and eighth grade Math, Social Studies and Integrated Language Arts at Nativity BVM School. Known for her solid judgment and very capable planning ability, her duties also included coordinating religious education and planning and implementing structure to the yearbook. She also directed the annual Christmas plays and the Living Stations, a presentation that uses only narration, silent acting, and music to tell the story behind each station.
Music has always been meaningful and fun for her, except “ No rap or heavy metal!”
Her favorite composers are Antonio Vivaldi [1678-1741], the famous virtuoso violinist who wrote many fine and memorable concertos and the robust polyphonic technique of Johann Sebastian Bach [1685–1750], especially “Air on the G-String”.
She liked the 1953 film “Calamity Jane”, portraying “glibber fibber, cuter shooter” Doris Day as hard riding and boastful. When she can find time, she enjoys watching the Emmy Award Nominated NCSI TV series. For relaxation, Angie crochets sensational classic ripple pattern afghans and baby blankets to present as gifts.
Favorite foods are pasta [no cream sauces] and simple and honest, dipped in a quick bath of egg and milk, breaded eggplant fried in olive oil. Skip the parm pretensions and no sauce! Needs nothing else and neither does she! When garnishing is required, she prepares her family’s recipe for tomato sauce, with “a pinch of this and a pinch of that”. Her family truly enjoys the traditional Italian repast, "Feast of the Seven Fishes" on Christmas Eve, the celebration rooted in the Catholic tradition of eschewing meat on various days of the year. Dining in the Borough includes “delicious food and delicious pizza” at “Cesare’s Italian Specialties Ristorante” [the closest thing to home cooking!].
The Clairs are a baseball family and enjoy watching “the Phillies, of course!” Angelina is the organist and choir director, leading the music program at Mother of Divine Grace Parish and very active in the pastoral council, engaging in ongoing dialogue with information and advice concerning the needs, feelings, hopes, and reactions of the parishioners. She is also the financial secretary and treasurer of her Alumni Association.
Principal Clair adamantly confirmed, “I am looking forward to my second year at St. Mark. The parents are so supportive and cooperative!”
The Home & School Association, lead by President Katherine “Kathy” [Fisher] Krieger, Bishop Conwell ‘86 raised $25,000 for the “Tech Fund”. Her children, Brandon [8th grade] and Tara [kindergarten] are "legacies", the 5th generation at St. Mark School! The first fundraiser, selling gift-wrap and giftware, will begin in September. The very successful “Annual Chance and Auction Night” [last year’s theme was ‘Life’s A Beach!’] will be held in February.
The very active marketing committee PR person and member of the Home & School committee promoting the school is Bristol Twp. resident Gina Denise [Baker] Carosi, CR ’90 [husband is originally Washington Street, Borough resident Joseph Anthony [Joe], BE ‘85]. They have 4 children; 2 young sons and St. Mark’s students, daughters, Jacquelyn [2nd grade] and Katilyn [kindergarten]. Jacquelyn, the “mail girl” who hand carried the cookbook recipes home to her mom, enthusiastically stated, “ It is a fun school and the principal isn’t mean!” Gina’s first project was the still available hard back “St. Mark Cookbook”, chock full of beautiful photographs of the actual church, inside and out and the loving compilation of 600 delicious “Roarin’ Recipes” from 148 contributing families to keep the hungriest “Lions” satisfied! There are many new recipes as well as well-loved traditional ones. The proceeds benefit the school's Technology Lab and the wireless lab, that will one day offer a computer for each of their 200+ students. Friends and family may still order a copy: Cost: $15.00 plus $2.00 s/h per book [PA residents add 6% state and local sales tax to your order].
“To lead their own parade
I do it my way”
“United Streaming”, scientifically proven to increase student achievement is on the new school year horizon as the teachers prepare to meet the needs of technology-savvy students. Today's students are so visual and so hooked into video that using the streaming videos will hold their attention and help them make the connections to the content.
The teachers and the children can witness a volcano erupting!
The Gesu Institute has partnered with the schools of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to implement a leadership initiative of rigor, relevance, and religion, providing students with an outstanding curriculum, “ramping up rigor” to prepare them for the 21st century. Student interest is bolstered as instruction becomes geared toward real-life problems and situations, developing a school climate that encourages creativity. The goal is that that all students are well prepared for post-secondary education, career and civic life. St. Mark School’s “caring and dedicated faculty and staff”, per Principal Clair, is actively adhering to the framework for 21st Century learning.
The Nutritional Development Program offers breakfast and lunch meals, advocating both healthy snacks and lunches. St. Mark School offers an affordable tuition in a well-disciplined, structured environment that is conducive to learning. The students wear uniforms, making them feel as though they are a part of a team, instilling a sense of their “blue and white” school pride in the youth. School uniforms create a sense of togetherness. Angel awards are earned for random acts of kindnesses.
The school day begins at 7:35 a.m. with breakfast or journal writing and classes start at 7:45 a.m. The school day ends at 2:00 p.m.
An after school CARES program is in session until 5:45 p.m.
St. Mark Catholic School is committed to educating each child to their fullest potential. Through word and example, their students are encouraged to develop their moral character, practice Christian values and academically prepare themselves to meet the challenges of the world.
They’re roaring but they’re still a work in progress! Hear Them Roar!
“Who said, who said
I can't be 10 feet tall
I say, I say
That I can have it all”
St. Mark Catholic School
1024 Radcliffe Street
Bristol, PA 19007
[italicized “Who Said” lyrics, Hannah Montana]
To recommend a Bristol Borough Character to be spotlighted:
American Heritage Dictionary
1.Moral or ethical strength. 2.A description of a person's attributes, traits, or abilities.
Guided by the Spirit, St. Mark Catholic School, in response to the invitation to ‘teach as Jesus did,’ is committed to educating each child to their fullest potential. Through word and example, our students are encouraged to develop their moral character, practice Christian values and academically prepare themselves to meet the challenges of the world. Together we build the ‘City of God’ – we, who are sons and daughters of Him.
Since parents are the primary teachers of their children, the teachers in the school will continue the role of parent during the school day. We will reinforce the positive behaviors and values that you have taught them, and guide your child in the practice of self-respect and respect for others, students and faculty. And, as teachers continuing the role of parent, we will work to extinguish negative or unacceptable behavior. With full support and cooperation of parents for the faculty, your children will be educated in a wholesome and pleasant environment.
ST. MARK SCHOOL: New principal to lead the 'pride' of Bristol into the future
Thursday, June 14, 2012
By Elizabeth Fisher
BRISTOL BOROUGH - For 125 years, St. Mark has been a guiding light that has helped generations of youngsters define their own destiny while absorbing the Catholic identity for which the school was founded. The school’s new principal said she is committed to helping preserve that tradition while preparing her charges for a future the children’s ancestors could not have imagined.
It helps that school spirit is contagious, said Maria Sanson, who’s taught at St. Mark for the past nine years, most recently in seventh grade.
When the school, located on Radcliffe Street, was threatened with closure back in January, its 197 little “Lions” - so called because the king of beasts is their mascot - showed as much moxie as the Irish immigrant ancestors who pooled their resources to found the school. Archbishop Charles Chaput heard the roar - and the chants and the pleas - and, along with some encouraging facts and figures from St. Mark Pastor, Father Dennis Mooney, would not send the lion into extinction.
In putting Sanson in charge of the “pride” last month, Father Mooney chose someone whose goals aimed to sharpen academic skills while fostering spiritual formation, he said.
“I think Mrs. Sanson understands what is needed. She has clear ideas and visions on how to expand academic and religious horizons,” Mooney said.
Sanson has her work cut out for her, but she embraces the challenge of preparing for changes in the core curriculum, a mandate that comes down from the state and from the archdiocese. By 2015, schools nationwide will “be on the same page,” she said, when it comes to academic curriculum and testing.
But Sanson is also about making her own mark on St. Mark.
While many schools plagued by shrinking revenues have dropped such extras as music and art, St. Mark is still going strong in those areas. The St. Mark School Band and students from every grade recently dazzled their parents and friends at their annual Spring Musical, using the Delaware River - which flows behind the school - as a backdrop.
Then there’s eighth grader Michaela White, whose artistic talent earned her a 4-year, partial fine-art scholarship to Villa Joseph Marie Academy in Holland.
Her father, Carl White Jr., a St. Mark alumni, said he is pleased with the education Michaela and his other children, Aiden, a third grader, and sixth grader Elizabeth, have received.
“St. Mark stands above other schools because of its teachers, its spirit and the enthusiasm instilled in its kids,” White said.
Another student, Tess Konnovitch, was among 800 students in the five-county archdiocese invited to test of the St. John Neumann Scholarship. She was among the 40 student across the archdiocese who won a full, four-year scholarship to the high school of her choice.
Newly graduated from eighth grade, Tess chose Conwell-Egan Catholic High in Fairless Hills, said her mother Carrie.
“Tess has had a great lineup of teachers who have encouraged her. I’m so happy she’s there,” Carrie Konnovitch said.
Sanson, who taught seventh grade until the end of the recent school year, will take her place at the helm eager and begin to institute such programs as math honors, a Junior Honors Society, and advanced classroom technology training.
“I’d also like to have a resource center for the ones who struggle to keep up,” Sanson said. “The center could serve special needs children, or just children who need a little extra help.”
The principal, who taught at St. Michael the Archangel School before coming to Bristol, said that she’s found St. Mark a friendly environment, as evidenced over the past few years as St. Mark absorbed children from St. Ann and St. Thomas Aquinas, nearby schools that closed their doors over the past few years.
“Those students made great adjustments to St. Mark because of the welcome they received,” Sanson said.