SALEM - Catholic schools are being asked to perform 40 hours of community service in recognition of the 40th anniversary of Catholic Schools Week, but for St. Paul School, service to others is second nature.
"Faith, knowledge and service - that is our mission every day. We use our faith to expand our knowledge and help serve," St. Paul School Principal David Pancurak said.
This is Pancurak's first year as principal, but he's been a teacher at St. Paul School for five years. He said the students do community service all year long, not just during Catholic Schools Week.
"It's what we take pride in here at St. Paul's," he said.
The American Sign Language Club made up of students performs at local nursing homes. Students sent cards to military service members at Christmas. They collected change to donate to areas of need both inside and outside of the United States. They collected school supplies for their counterparts in Haiti. They collected stickers and hard candy for medical missionaries to take with them for children in the mountains of Haiti.
They're already lining up projects for the spring for volunteer day, with help from the St. Paul Home and School Association.
Pancurak said they have a lot planned for Catholic Schools Week from Jan. 26-31.
The week begins with a student-led Mass at 11:15 a.m. Sunday at St. Paul Church. Students will perform in the choir and serve as lectors, with the sixth grade students performing a song using sign language, a tradition the past 20 years.
The annual spaghetti dinner will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday in Scullion Hall with Frank Zamarelli doing the cooking. The cost is $7 for adults, $5 for children 5 to 10 years old and free for children under 5 years old. The Scholastic Book Fair will take place at the same time in the school library and will continue through the week.
On Monday, the spelling bee for grades three and four will begin at 1 p.m., followed by the spelling bee for grades five and six. The winner from the bee for fifth and sixth grades will represent St. Paul School in the Columbiana County Spelling Bee.
On Tuesday, the computer class will create a large mural to be displayed at the school using student Wordles. Pancurak explained that Wordles are created through a computer program which allows a student to enter a bunch of words about a particular subject and then the words will be used to form a shape, such as a cross or an animal.
On Wednesday, students are asked to bring a food item to donate to the local food pantry during the 9 a.m. school Mass. Students and their families can attend Family Bingo Night from 6 to 7:30 p.m. to play bingo, eat pizza and enjoy some family fellowship. Each student will be asked to donate a small prize for bingo. The book fair will be open from 5 to 8 p.m.
On Thursday, students will create placemats to donate to the Banquet in Salem and Meals on Wheels.
On Friday, an ice cream social will be followed by the annual sixth grade versus the school faculty volleyball game.
Besides the book fair, activities that will take place every day include: creating noodle (rubber band) bracelets to donate to hospitals to lift the spirits of patients; creating and decorating magnets that say "St. Paul School is Thinking of You" to give to shut-ins from St. Paul Parish; and creating "Socks of Love" to donate to a shelter by collecting soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs and other items to place in a sock wrapped with another sock and tied with a ribbon.
Pancurak noted that students who register for the next school year during Catholic Schools Week will have the registration fee waived. The school offers instruction for pre-school through sixth grade and has an enrollment of 96 students.
Besides this being the 40th year for Catholic Schools Week, Pancurak said plans are already being made for the school's 110th anniversary since its founding in 1904, with an anniversary dinner set for August. Since becoming principal, he's been working on promoting the school and marketing what the school has to offer for students, who come from both Catholic and non-Catholic families.
The school's Facebook page is updated regularly and the school's website is being redesigned.
"We're trying to let people outside our walls know what we're doing," he said.
The school's mission is to educate the mind, body and spirit of each child, offering a comprehensive curriculum that exceeds state standards, according to a school brochure. Besides academics, a compute lab and other technologies, the school offers physical education, fine arts classes and programs, including music and art, academic competitions, Spanish language instruction, enrichment, academic support and speech services.
Pancurak said he doesn't want people to forget what an asset St. Paul School is to the community. That was part of the reason he decided to apply for the job of principal, knowing the mission and the vision and knowing the school could continue on for another 110 years.
A 2001 graduate of Lisbon David Anderson High School, Pancurak earned a bachelor's degree in early childhood education from Youngstown State University in 2006. He has taken administrative coursework at Walsh University in North Canton. He first came to St. Paul School as a long-term sub from the Salem City Schools, working with students in reading. He then taught fifth grade for two years at St. Paul, went to Alliance City Schools for a year working with students in reading and returned to St. Paul as a teacher, with two years teaching second grade and a year teaching fourth, fifth and sixth grade science.
He said it's a challenge, but working with the students is fun. He also said it's rewarding to continue working with the families at St. Paul School. He and his wife, Casey, have an 8-month-old daughter and attend St. Paul Church.
Anyone who's interested in having their child enroll at St. Paul School can contact Pancurak at 330-337-3451.