School Celebrates Year-Long ‘Saintenniel’

balloonsAs 59 balloons, tied together to form a blue and gold Rosary, rose above downtown Lexington, more than 400 people gathered in prayer to help mark the 100th anniversary of Sts. Peter & Paul School.

Among the attendees at the event in Triangle Park in October were Bishop Ronald Gainer, the Color Guard of the Knights of Columbus and the entire school student body.

“It was amazing to see a community of people come together in prayer,” said SPPS President Jeanne Miller.

The Rosary event dramatized a special yearlong celebration for SPPS – nicknamed the Saintennial.

SPPS, a preschool-eighth grade regional Catholic school, recently completed a $12 million renovation and addition to the original school, built in 1913.

The 100-year anniversary has been a time for generations of folks connected to gather and share memories.

For instance, at the reunion weekend in October, Pat Donovan recounted her days as a student in the 1930s.

“There have been so many people telling stories and sharing photos, it has been very touching,” Miller said.

“Given the historic nature of the school, it’s exciting that we are thriving in downtown.”

Bright spots for the school abound. Highlights include:

  • Blue-Ribbon school
  • Top 10% in nation in test scores
  • More than half of seventh-graders are Duke University TIP qualifiers
  • Alltech state-of-the-art science lab

“And we’re not cutting the arts, we’re expanding them,” Miller said.

The centerpiece of the arts program is the W. Paul & Lucille Caudill Little Theatre, a 250-seat showcase for student and community talent.

Currently, SPPS has an enrollment of 308 students, plus another 120 in the preschool program for a student population of more than 400 that represents 11 counties.

Catholic students get tuition discounts but students of all faiths are welcome.

That’s the experience of Jason Rudzik, the father of two SPPS students. Jason is Catholic and his wife, Carrie, is Baptist, but, “The school is inclusive. Everyone is accepted,” he said.

Rudzik, a 40-year-old stay-at-home dad, is a 1987 graduate of St. Paul. He recalls the school with fondness, saying that he remains in contact with nearly 25% of his elementary classmates.

“I really liked the small classes and the family atmosphere,” he said. “I was always really comfortable and had a great experience.”

He sends his two boys, 8 and 6, to the school for the same reasons that he enjoyed the school.

“I still remember my teachers well,” he said. “They were very motivated. I also like the great arts program. That allows my boys to explore their creativity and get a more well-rounded education.”

The entire SPPS community is committed to that task.

Said Miller: “We plan to continue to be good stewards, to fulfill that vision and maintain the academic traditions of a strong, faith-based Catholic school education.”