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August 28, 2013

St. Mary School ready for new year at new facility

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When St. Mary Catholic School students go back to school on Sept. 3 it will be at this recently purchased, 44,000-square-foot facility in the heart of downtown Mount Clemens.

MOUNT CLEMENS — Students at St. Mary Catholic School in Mount Clemens can expect some pretty big changes when the new school year starts Sept. 3.

That’s mainly because the much bigger facility where they will now receive their education allows for much more academic enrichment opportunities.

“The new facility provides us with up-to-date fiber optic technology, a media center, state of the art cafetorium and many additional upgrades,” said St. Mary School Principal Maureen Miscavish. “The building is the perfect fit to bring our two campuses together. It helps us ensure there will be a St. Mary School in Mt. Clemens for years to come.”

After 143 years at 105 Market Street, St. Mary School will move to 2 Union Street, directly across from the Anton Art Center on the southbound Gratiot side and the historical Crocker House Museum, also on Union.

The changes come after St. Peter Church purchased the 44,000-square-foot facility from Mount Clemens Community Schools for $600,000 in March.

Formerly the Alexander Macomb Academy, the facility was already equipped with abundant classroom space, as well as parking, wireless capabilities and an ample outdoor play area It will house St. Mary’s 440 preschool through eighth-grade students with room to grow, St. Peter Church Rev. Michael Cooney said shortly after the purchase.

Cooney said the move alleviates some inconveniences for the Catholic schools, which previously had its preschool through first-grade students at their primary campus on St. Francis Street in Clinton Township and its second- through eighth-graders at the main campus in Mount Clemens.

“This gives us the opportunity to put everyone under one roof,” he said.

The St. Mary School building was constructed in 1889, but a school has stood at the site on Market Street since 1871. St. Mary has been operating at two campuses since 1999.

School officials said the plan is to sell the primary campus building on St. Francis, while the main campus gymnasium on Market Street will be used for home games, as well as for sports practices. But that’s just the immediate plan. Miscavish said the long-range plan will be to demolish the building in order to make way for extended parking at St. Peter, construct a green space and possibly make an outdoor Hearts and Stone Grotto. 

“Once we are settled in the new building, then the parish will begin looking into that project,” she said. 

The church plans to sell primary campus on St. Francis.

In addition, playground equipment for the new campus has been ordered and will be installed this week, Miscavish said. Funding for the equipment has come from private donations, the St. Mary Parent Organization and  fundraising efforts, including the St. Mary Fun Run last month and an Aug. 2 Reverse Raffle attended by St. Peter parishioners and St. Mary parents.

St. Mary School has often been referred to as the best Catholic School in Macomb County because of its quality and affordability. And even after 143 years, the administration is committed to incorporating the necessary changes to keep it that way.

The result is a new tuition structure appealing to even more Macomb County Catholics, school officials said. In the past, St. Mary parents who are parishioners of St. Peter Catholic Church received a lower tuition rate than non-parish members. Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, that is no longer the case; now, all practicing Roman or Eastern Rite Catholics will pay the same amount for their children to attend the school.

“Over time, we realized that our tuition structure needed some rethinking. Our goal is to offer affordable Catholic education to all Catholic families who are committed to practicing their faith, even if they are not members of St. Peter Church,” said Cooney. “We believe our revised tuition program will help achieve that goal.”

For more information about St. Mary Catholic School, call (586) 468-4570 or go to www.stmarymtclemens.org.