A Diocese of Superior Catholic school has been recognized “for their outstanding school, teachers and students,” and for supporting and participating in the local community.
St. Francis de Sales Catholic School, Spooner, was named the Spooner Area Chamber of Commerce’s Member of the Year at a March 24 banquet at Heartwood Conference Center & Retreat, Trego. Two teachers, Diane Barkley and Lizabeth Baranczky, accepted the award on behalf of the school.
“What a wonderful recognition,” Fr. Ed Anderson, pastor of the parish, wrote in a letter thanking the chamber.
The recognition comes at a time when school officials aspire to achieve greater visibility.
“We have really made efforts to ‘go outside the block’ and be a noticeable presence in the community,” said Jenny Snarski, a St. Francis parishioner who does marketing work for the school.”
They need to expand awareness to reach more Christian families, Snarski added.
“As part of a school marketing campaign it became apparent that there were people in the community at large who really didn’t know that St. Francis de Sales had a school or what kind of educational environment we provided,” she explained. “Presence and visibility are of vital importance – especially as there are more and more non-Catholic Christian families looking for an environment that supports faith and provides a Christian learning setting.”
School representatives began showing up at chamber meetings to share information on upcoming events and school news, Snarski said. St. Francis hosted children’s booths at local festivals, and they invited community members to visit the school and talk about their jobs or businesses during Catholic Schools Week.
“Service projects have been organized to benefit local charities and causes,” she continued. “A concrete example was a Destination Imagination team who, in 2014, raised awareness and monies for the local movie theater that needed to raise funds for a digital conversion.”
They’ve also made presentations to a local moms’ group and Christian preschool and organized a Corpus Christi procession to highlight Catholic religious activities.
While the marketing campaign promotes enrollment, it also enables Catholics to heed the evangelical call, according to Snarski.
“Presence in the community allows for opportunities for school parents to share their testimony and for community members to see firsthand the character and qualities we seek to instill in our students,” she said, “primarily those of respect, well-roundedness, service-mindedness.”