Fr. Joseph Kumar, sacramental minister at Our Lady of the Lakes Parish and School, is pictured with students, parents, and an alumnus and first-grade teacher, Deb Cline. The new playground equipment was installed with the help of many volunteers. Principal Betty Swiston said, “It was a combined effort by our Home and School and the Buildings and Grounds Committee from the parish/school. We are so proud and thankful that this dream project has finally become a reality.” (Submitted photo)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald staff

Here’s a quick look at some of the changes coming to diocesan Catholic schools for the 2017-18 school year.

New staff

Most of the schools added new lead teachers, fine arts and physical education teachers and other support positions. Some of these teachers come with extensive experience. Of special note are three new principals, who will be serving the Ladysmith, Rhinelander and River Falls schools: Megan Dieckman, Melanie Nycz and Jeanne McCoy, respectively.

Building and grounds improvements

Improvements range from classroom renovations in Superior to new carpet in New Richmond and Somerset’s gym floor resurfacing, new bleachers and roof replacement. Rhinelander’s church is also undergoing a major renovation.

Some schools had outdoor space improvements. Ashland added new playground equipment with the help of many volunteers. St. Joseph’s in Rice Lake, through generous donors, has added green space for an outdoor classroom, play area and some extra parking. St. Francis de Sales in Spooner has renovated the courtyard as a pre-school play area that will also be used by the church.

Curriculum and technology advancements

Chromebooks are becoming a standard curriculum tool at many diocesan Catholic schools. Tomahawk has added Chromebooks for grades four and five. St. Patrick’s in Hudson increased their number of Chromebooks to one for each third- through eighth-grader. Spooner has added some as replacements and for the seventh-and-eighth grade classroom. Various schools updated curriculums in different subjects, often with the help of donations. Nativity of Our Lord in Rhinelander added electives for junior high.

Other highlights

Cathedral school is celebrating its state champion Twirling team.

St. Anne’s in Somerset celebrated its centennial this summer, and St. Mary’s in Tomahawk is beginning its second century of Catholic education.

Ashland and Medford schools are participating in the Wisconsin voucher program.

Ashland has also reconfigured some classrooms to accommodate increased enrollment in the lower grades.

Ways to support Catholic schools

Find the closest school: If your local community does not have a Catholic school, visit to see where the closest school to you is. Our schools are vibrant faith communities where the future of our parishes is seen first-hand.

SCRIP programs: Consists of the direct purchase of gift cards for local and national retailers, with a percentage being donated to the school. An easy way to financially support Catholic schools through everyday and holiday purchases.

Volunteer opportunities: Each school depends greatly on volunteers, and it can be a challenge for working parents to fill all the needs. When parish members get involved, it is a mutually enriching experience.

Fundraiser support: magazine and holiday items sales, Schwan’s fundraisers, galas, etc. Be sure to read the local bulletin or ask to be added to the regional school’s email and newsletter list for updates on ways to be supportive through various efforts and events.