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Diocese of Gaylord to Welcome Close to 3,000 Students

As school bells ring out the official opening of the 2010-2011 school year, Catholic schools in the Diocese of Gaylord are prepared to welcome nearly 3,000 children into the classrooms. They join over two million students nationwide whose families have chosen a Catholic education.

Pope John Paul II said, “Community is at the heart of all Catholic education, not simply as a concept to be taught, but as a reality to be lived…Your students will learn to understand and appreciate the value of community as they experience love, trust, and loyalty in your school and educational programs, and as they learn to trust all persons and brothers and sisters created by God and redeemed by Christ.”

Last week all of the faculty and staff of the 17 Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Gaylord gathered for Convocation in Gaylord. More than 325 educators began their day praying together at a Mass with Bishop Hebda and Pastors of the schools. The Convocation continued with opportunities to meet and collaborate with colleagues in the same positions across the diocese and continuing to strengthen the wider school community.

All of our Catholic Schools are committed to providing a distinctly Catholic education and an environment with the highest standards of academic excellence. These schools consistently score above state and national averages with some being among the highest in academic performance in the state. Nationwide, over 99 percent of Catholic school students will graduate from high school, and 80 percent of graduates go on to attend a four-year institution of higher learning.

Academics are only part of the picture, however. Catholic schools provide a faith-centered education, forming their minds and spirits so that they live lives full of hope, joy and peace and learn to apply their faith to the many challenges they will face.

“We are creating a Gospel culture at Manistee Catholic Central (MCC) – community service, how we treat one another, how we imitate Christ in our words and actions,” said Jan Bigalke, Principal at MCC. “We are preparing all students for life after high school – college-readiness, and a willingness to be productive citizens and Catholic Christians in a society that desperately needs moral leadership.”

Three new principals have joined diocesan Catholic Schools this year: Bob Kellogg has taken the helm at St. Ann Catholic School in Cadillac; Nancy Phlip is the new principal and St. Mary Catholic School in Charlevoix; and Nicole Hatch will lead All Saints Catholic School in Alpena.

Kellogg has a long history with St. Ann and 30 years in the education field. He attended as a child, and then came back as a teacher where he met his wife, Jan. Their children, now grown, attended the school and now he returns as Principal of St. Ann’s after having taught and served as a principal in the Cadillac Public School System.

Philp comes to St. Mary, Charlevoix by way of Flint where she retired from Kearsley Community Schools after teaching for 31 years. She moved to northern Michigan and began substitute teaching in area schools and served as adjunct faculty to North Central Michigan College. She has extensive experience in developing curriculum and particularly enjoys working with students.

Hatch has been teaching 5th and 6th grade students at All Saints Catholic School since 2006. She also served as an adjunct English professor and Reading lab assistant at Alpena Community College. She describes herself as highly motivated and energetic and is looking forward to this new challenge. She has been married for 15 years to husband Chris and they have three children.

“I think we’re all excited and extremely optimistic about this new year,” said Charles Taylor, Superintendent of Catholic Schools. “As I have travelled the diocese, there is a great spirit and energy amongst the parents and staff of each of our schools. Our schools are operating very efficiently and getting excellent results.”

Looking forward to the new year, St. Mary Cathedral School Principal Cindy Pineda added, “Every year, my hope for each and every one of our students is that they experience growth. The teachers will facilitate learning in the classrooms but the students must become fully engaged in order to truly grow. So I hope that our students and our school grow spiritually and academically and that St. Mary Cathedral School truly is an institution that is educating the mind, heart and spirit for the Kingdom of God.”

The success of Catholic School, however, depends largely on the partnership of parents, the first and foremost educators of their children, as well parishioners for support. While often requires sacrifice to maintain a Catholic School, but the benefits to the child and the world last a lifetime.

“We are grateful to our many benefactors who have, and are continuing to invest time, resources and prayers on behalf of the students in our Catholic Schools,” Taylor added.

If you are interested in volunteering or providing support to any of our Catholic Schools, please contact Mr. Taylor at 989.732.5147. In addition, a fund is set apart in the Northern Michigan Catholic Foundation (NMCF) exclusively for the support of Catholic Education. For more information or to make a gift, log on to or contact Danielle Parish at