By Lennon Audrain
While St. Gregory Catholic School is typically full of happy students all year round, right before Christmas it was full of some “Gleeful” fourth to eighth graders and some “Grumpy” preschool to third graders. It was not the upcoming season that made the students this way, but the drama performances that would soon be put on by Ms. Elizabeth Peterson, the Dramatic Arts teacher at the school.
At St. Gregory, students have the opportunity to partake in an afterschool drama program that has put on over 6 performances in a mere three years. Students focus on developing the ability to dance, sing, and express emotions. The preschool through third graders were awfully grumpy in their performance “The Grumps of Ring-a-Dingtown,” written by John Jacobson & John Higgins of the Hal Leonard Corporation.
And while most of the performances are written by a publishing company, this year, the “Gleeful” fourth through eighth graders wrote their own script and preformed “A Glee Christmas” which showcased the vocal capabilities of many of the youth actors.
These aren’t the only programs offered at St. Gregory, though. Ms. Maureen DeGrose and Ms. Margie Welfelt, principal and assistant principal at the school, introduced an “Activity Period” where students choose which elective they would like to enroll in. The Activity period meets twice a week, and students can take two different classes or the same one.
Cali, a sixth grader and third generation St. Gregory student that takes the Honeywell Space challenge class and Yearbook class, enjoys the flexibility that she gets by taking the classes. “While they are classes, it’s never boring. We are always learning new things. We are free to do what we would like, within set limits.” Cali is also a member of Student Council, plays volleyball, basketball, and softball, and does drama.
And while the activity period is giving more students the opportunity to learn new content, students are also learning new skills. Amelia, an eighth grader, takes Jazz Dance and the Honeywell Space Challenge. “I like jazz because I enjoy entertaining others,” she says. “As for Honeywell, I grew as a leader in ways I never thought possible. I am now a Team Leader for my group.” Amelia has been in the drama program at St. Gregory for three years and most recently has been noted for her solo in “Glee Christmas,” The Christmas Song.
Public Speaking, Aviation Study, and Study Hall are just three other classes that students can opt to take as their Activity Period classes. Physical Education, Technology, and Spanish are the Special subjects that are taught at St. Gregory.
Madison, an eighth grader and Student Body President at St. Gregory Catholic School, takes Study Hall and Jazz Dance. “I enjoy study hall because it gives me time to do work that is due in the future or any other work if I missed it,” she says. Madison is also a tri-season athlete and says it has helped her grow as a leader, along with being President. “Being president has made me way more responsible and more of a leader. It has shown me how to accept and apply other people’s ideas. I love being able to guide others who are struggling to be a leader on and off the court.”
St. Gregory houses over 22 classrooms, a library, two computer labs, a set of 30 Chromebooks that can be taken from room to room with another set of 30-Chromebooks on the way, three basketball courts (which double as volleyball courts), a softball and baseball field, and a practice softball diamond. Their courtyard is surrounded by nine classrooms, and it’s where they meet every morning to pray, except for Fridays when they go to mass. Aiden, a sixth grader, says that the facilities at St. Gregory are his favorite aspect. “We have some awesome courts thanks to Shea Homes,” he says. Aiden is a Boy Scout and helps out the Cub Scouts whenever he can. He has also been Altar Serving at the parish since the sixth grade.
Recently, St. Gregory was chosen the Arizona Catholic Schools Disabilities Pilot School. The teachers will be given professional development and strategies to help exceptional students in the classroom.
With a rigorous, Christo-centric curriculum, St. Gregory is school of 350 kids who are growing in the love of Christ. Many students are second and third generation, and many alumni return to teach. St. Gregory prepares students for high school and beyond. Their focus is on the growth of the whole child. More information can be found at their website, www.stgphx.com