Mat-Su school fuses strong Catholic identity with outreach

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Our Lady of the Valley Catholic School in Wasilla offers classical Christian curriculum for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The school is a ministry of Sacred Heart, St. Michael, Our Lady of the Lake and St. Christopher parishes, and opened in 2006.

With a student body of 71, each classroom maintains a small teacher-student ratio. Math, science, Latin, history and literature are heavily featured.

Now in its 11th year, the school is the realization of a long-held dream by Mat-Su Catholic families.

Initially the school opened its doors in a rented strip mall space, later moving to Sacred Heart Church property. Tuition is $4,460 (pre-kindergarten varies according to schedule, full or half time) and financial aid is available.

The school mission statement includes, “We strive to teach as Jesus did, with love for the law of God and the dignity of each person.”

Our Lady of the Valley offers a full day of academic rigor in its classrooms, with many additional enrichment opportunities. Clubs include: Spelling Bee, Geography Bee, Catholic Truth Pursuit (of which OLV is the defending archdiocesan champion), and athletic teams for cross country running and track. Private lessons in piano, Spanish and multi-media journalism are available after school.

Catherine Henn recently chose the school for her sixth grade daughter, Rogue. Henn notes that the change has been distinct and positive.

“We wish we could have had her here earlier, looking back,” she said.

The contrast from public school is essentially one of nurturing and discipline, with high expectations and the structure to pursue them.

Jessica Jachimiec and her husband chose Our Lady of the Valley for their two daughters. Previously attending another private school in the Valley, they were eager to participate in all-school Masses held Fridays and holy days, which Jachimiec recalls as clinching the decision for their family. An alumnus of Catholic schools in the Midwest, Jachimiec holds the experience as an ideal she’s grateful to have available in the Mat-Su Valley. She hopes the school will expand high school.

Jachimiec said religious instruction was the main factor in their choice, naming the peer-rich environment as a secondary factor. Herself a graduate of Catholic schooling, she observes, “While so many things are different for my children, compared to when I grew up — this continuity, I appreciate. It’s just as good as I remember.”

According to Joyce Lund, the principal and first-second grade teacher, the spiritual mission of the school is evident throughout all subjects as well as the service projects for which Our Lady of the Valley is known throughout the community. Daily chapel includes recitation of the Ten Commandments, corporal and spiritual works of mercy and prayers for their supporting parishes, with particular attention to needs of the local community.

“The children are encouraged to see themselves as stewards of the faith, with unique gifts to be offered back to the Lord through service to all people,” Lund noted.

Religious feast days are observed with fervor. The All Saints’ Day procession is a favorite of staff and students. Civic holidays are also given due regard, with a special reception after Mass on Veteran’s Day and an all-school assembly for Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, including patriotic songs and battle hymns for each branch of the military.

Catholic Schools Week, a public relations effort of the National Catholic Education Association, offers a view of the school’s landscape compressed into a single week. Sunday kicks off with “Celebrating Your Parish,” and continues with the theme of celebrating the community, student, nation, vocation, school staff and families.

Catholic Schools Week will emphasize community ties with student set to visit service agencies such as law enforcement and homeless shelters to offer thanksgiving.

Principal Lund credits school faculty and parents for assisting with planning and executing scavenger hunts, trivia contests, luncheons, and cookie bakes for dozens of platters delivered around Palmer and Wasilla throughout the year. Concerts are offered at Palmer Pioneer Home, Providence Medical Center and Bean’s Cafe, where donations of survival bags are dispersed by students and staff.

 

For more information, contact the school at 376-0883 or visit olvwasilla.com.

 


'Mat-Su school fuses strong Catholic identity with outreach'
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