After greeting students as they stepped off of school buses on Main Street in Buffalo Wednesday, Bishop Richard J. Malone went inside and joined some of them in a drum session on the first day of classes at St. Joseph University School.
"It's just a wonderful way for me to start the school year," said Bishop Malone. "We like to say Catholic schools are different where it counts. Our Catholic schools are communities of faith, learning and service."
Bishop Malone led the opening prayer over the school's public address system and reminded the students to be grateful. "It's a commitment on the part of parents, so I'll ask the students when they go home today to thank their parents for sending them to St. Joseph School and to appreciate every single dimension of the school. Every day, they'll learn about Jesus in addition to math and science and all those things."
There are about 185 students in grades pre-K through eight at the school, which, like the St. Joseph University Parish, is diverse and puts strong emphasis on music, according to Principal Mark Mattle. "Our music program is incredible. The church is big on music, so we kind of reflect that philosophy that the church has. We're really big in music and art and drama. The teachers get together and write a play every year and it involves music and drama and aspects from all of the disciplines."
While most of the 34 Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Buffalo opened on Tuesday, St. Joseph University School was among those opening on Wednesday. "The kids are excited. The teachers are excited," said Sister Carol Cimino, SSJ, superintendent of Catholic schools. "We're faith based and that separates us from other schools. We have teachers who really see this as a calling and a vocation and we have parents who put their kids in our Catholic schools because they are faith based. So, we're going to start today with a prayer and that sets us aside every single day."
This year, St. Joseph University School will be increasing its focus on the STREAM program, which has caught the attention of other Catholic schools across the nation for the way it integrates the arts and religion into many aspects of science, technology, engineering and math.
The school is located next to the University at Buffalo's Main Street campus. "When you think of all that's going on in the world right now that's so discouraging, our students will be learning how to make a difference and bring hope and joy where it lacks right now," said Bishop Malone. "Our schools are happy communities, even though some of the children, as in all schools, come from difficult home situations. We make a point to help the children learn the reason for what Pope Francis calls the joy of the Gospel and if you know Jesus, no matter what's going on, there should be joy."
For more information visit: https://www.wnycatholicschools.org/