Tuesday, December 11, 2012

St. Bernard Prep – Private Education in a Serene Setting
Located in the beautiful Appalachian foothills of North Alabama and tucked away on the east side of Cullman County is Alabama’s only Catholic boarding school – St. Bernard Preparatory School.  St. Bernard Prep is a residential and day school for grades 7-12 that was begun by the Benedictine Monks at St. Bernard Abbey in 1891, the year the monastery was founded.  Since that time the call to educate has been central in the work of the monks, including high school, college and seminary education. 

For over 1,500 years Benedictine Monks have been involved in the business of education, keeping alive the love for learning and a deep appreciation for God’s creation and world cultures.  With that solid foundation, the Cullman, Alabama school has declared its mission: “St. Bernard Preparatory School is committed to fully engaging students in learning for the whole person – body, mind and spirit.”
In the year 2005, St. Bernard opened Founder’s Hall and created a wonderful learning environment for students in grades 7 and 8.  The Middle School contains six classrooms, including a music room, science lab, and a newly purchased mobile computer lab.   

The Upper School offers most classroom instruction in the Swisher Classroom Building, with music, art, drama, and physical education located at other campus locations.  Classes are taught by highly certified veteran instructors with vast experience at both the high school and collegiate level.  Most have been educated beyond the master’s degree level. 

The Middle School academic program is structured for the purpose of improving academic achievement in the 7th and 8th grades.  The concepts and skills taught in the middle grades provide the necessary foundation for the college preparatory curriculum of the Upper School.  

The entire school curriculum is based on the liberal arts: languages and literature, history, mathematics, science, the social sciences, theology and the arts.  The teaching philosophy emphasizes the ability to think, to read with understanding, to express oneself with precision and confidence, and to solve problems creatively.  Courses encourage the development of mental and physical discipline, of breadth and depth of knowledge, of responsible thought and action, and of critical thinking.     

Benedict Dorm is home to the young men of St. Bernard, and the young ladies reside in their dormitory located in the Administration Building.  Whether students choose to reside on campus or commute daily, they are taught to acquire good study habits and develop daily routines that lead to personal growth and development. 

School President, Fr. Joel Martin, who served as Headmaster for 15 years, says he is proud of what he has witnessed from the students who have graduated and who are currently enrolled. 

“We have high expectations for our students.  We believe in a full life of true involvement, overcoming fear and taking risks, but most of all responsibility and self-control,” he said. 

Teaching students how to budget time, study, set goals, get along with one another, and limit their time on the internet, cell phone and TV, are part of the school’s overall philosophy.  Students are encouraged to make good decisions and accept consequences, solve problems, clean their room well, do laundry and learn to accept the joys and difficulties of life with others.
Chuckling, Fr. Joel said parents often comment on the changes they see in their child who enters the residential life.  “Parents have said on more than one occasion, they have experienced first-hand an increasing closeness to family, a greater depth of communication, appreciation and love, as well as self-discipline, self-respect and self-confidence.  It all comes from St. Bernard Prep’s belief in teenagers and in our expectation that they think for themselves and make wise choices.” 

The school currently has 22 international students enrolled from five different countries:  Germany, Korea, China, Vietnam, and Taiwan.  That makes for a breadth of experience: a school that mirrors not just the local population, but the world community of which we are a part. 

St. Bernard offers a broad athletic program and boasts facilities seldom seen in a school population of less than 200.   Competing in the AHSAA 1A Division, The Cross Country team created a 5K running trail though the 800 wooded acres of St. Bernard’s treasure forest, and has become known as a dominate powerhouse in the 1A Cross Country competitions for both male and females.

The Fazi-Richard Athletic Center completed in 1996, allows students to participate in volleyball, basketball and other athletic activities.  The school’s out-of-doors athletic facilities consist of a fine tennis complex, fields for baseball, softball, archery, etc., and a state-of-the-art soccer field that was home to the Argentine Olympic Football Federation in 1996. 

John Schneider, a resident of Decatur and current Student Body President, experienced the life of a St. Bernard student through his older siblings, a sister and two brother, all graduates of St. Bernard.  “St. Bernard is our home away from home,” Schneider said.  “We chose St. Bernard for the educational aspect, but received so much more .  Our life-long friends, the memories of the dorm, the dining hall, Abbey Church, the quad, Blue and White Day, the Grotto, Bloomin’ Festival, the routines, and hard work will remain in our hearts forever.”

Fr. Joel says St. Bernard should strongly be considered if one is academically capable and willing to prepare seriously for the life that lies ahead of them in college and university studies and beyond.  He went on to say that St. Bernard is not equipped as a therapeutic setting for students with serious personal, social or academic difficulties. 

St. Bernard offers a commuting bus service daily to the Decatur, Alabama area and is prepared to expand transportation services to other locations in the future as needed. 

Anyone interested in learning more about St. Bernard Prep should attend Open House on Sunday, March 3, 2013  beginning at 2 p.m. or call (256)739-6682 for a personal tour of the school.  Visit online (www.stbernardprep.com) or like us on www.facebook.com/stbernardprep.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Booster Club to Host Drawdown at St. Bernard

The St. Bernard Booster Club is preparing to host its annual Drawdown/Benefit Dinner at the Fazi-Richard Athletic Center in Cullman, Alabama on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 6:00 pm.  The Booster Club, an association of parents, friends and students from St. Bernard Preparatory School, sponsors this event the Saturday before “Super Bowl Sunday” each year.
A total of four hundred and fifty tickets are available.  A donation of  $100 per couple entitles the ticket holder to dinner and the opportunity to win more than $12,900 in cash and prizes.  In addition to these prizes, there will be a silent auction as well as other planned activities.
Proceeds from the drawdown go to St. Bernard Preparatory School to help fund the athletic programs offered at the school.  St. Bernard Prep President, Fr. Joel Martin, said, “This event allows  students in the Middle and High School to have access to a broad range of athletic programs.  The Booster Club does great work in sponsoring this annual event.”
Tickets may be obtained at the school, or by contacting Buster Ros at (256)347-1320 or Mark Pudles (256)507-1748. 

Visit St. Bernard on the web at www.stbernardprep.com or follow us daily on Facebook and Twitter.  www.facebook.com/stbernardprep.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Middle School hosts food drive

During the month of November, students at St. Bernard Middle School in Cullman are remembering those who are in need.   This holiday season the school has collectively donated enough food to create a delicious Thanksgiving dinner for four to maybe six families.

Martha Ann Warnke, who has spent her life in classroom education, spearheads the food drive and makes the necessary arrangements for the food to be distributed through the St. Vincent dePaul organization at Sacred Heart Church in Cullman.

Each year students are given a list of what it takes to make a perfect Thanksgiving dinner.   Some donate money which is used to purchase turkey, hams, and baking hens.

“We were extremely pleased with our response.  The students and their families were so kind to contribute to the food drive,” Miss Warnke said.

Principal William Calvert said this is a tradition for the Middle School.  “This is a tradition which we have carried since the Middle School was opened.  Miss Warnke does a great job spearheading the project, and of course our students are always ready to lend a helping hand.”

Thanksgiving service held at St. Bernard

Ministers and Priests of St. Bernard Prep School students and staff members were recently invited to participate in the school’s annual Thanksgiving Service.  Over forty people who minister to churches in various parts of the country were sent an invitation.

Leading the opening prayer was Rev.  Patrick Cullen, pastor of St. Aloysius Church in Bessemer. Scripture readings were given by Rev. Matt Carmichael of Daystar Church in Hanceville, Rev. Etsel Riddle of Oak Level Baptist Church in Cullman, Very Rev. Kevin Bazzel of St. Paul Cathedral in Birmingham, and Deacon Dennis Kobs of Annunciation Church in Decatur.  The final prayer was offered by Sr. Teresa Walsh of Annunciation Church in Decatur.  Also leading prayers were Rev. Robert Blackwell of Grace Episcopal Church, Cullman, and Rev. Michael Deering of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Gardendale.

Rev. Mitchell Williams of First United Methodist Church delivered a “mouthwatering” homily with a reminder of gifts for which we “oughta” be thankful.    Referring to the tornado that hit Cullman on April 27, 2011, Rev. Williams reminded the congregation of how bad things can happen in a community.  The Cullman area witnessed heavy damage to homes, churches, and businesses.  Power was restored within a week, water was still available, and neighbors from other counties assisted in the clean-up.  However, Hurricane Sandy is much worse.  People are still without power, and the water is becoming less and less, and there are no neighbors who are spared the disaster.

 “If we knew today that something of this nature was about to happen, what would be the first thing you would rescue?”  Williams asked.    “What would become precious to you?”

Williams encouraged all to appreciate the little things in life.    “Be thankful for the chance to be happy and to be connected with a God who has blessed you, and loves you.”

After the sermon, students offered prayers of thanksgiving/petition, during which gifts representing the prayers were offered at the altar of the Abbey Church. Thanks was expressed for the harvest that makes our lives possible, and all creation; the freedom of our Country, our armed forces, and elected officials; parents, teachers, and friends; education and wisdom; athletic abilities, people of all faiths, and loved ones who have died.

Music was provided by vocalist Caitlin Varquez who was accompanied by Alex Ginas playing the guitar.  Dr. Rebecca Whited was the organist and was assisted by trumpeter Alex Ginas.
After the service, Thanksgiving Dinner was enjoyed by all in the Dining Hall.

Families impressed at Open House

Fifteen Families from Alabama, Georgia, Florida and China visited St. Bernard during the recent Open House to gain more knowledge about St. Bernard Prep, and to see if it would be a good fit for their children and/or grandchildren.

Students from both the Middle and High School served as ambassadors for the afternoon, and did an outstanding  job of representing their school.

Dr.  Donna Bryant, Admissions Director, said parents were very impressed with the job the students did.  They commented on how friendly, helpful and confident the students were – wonderfully reflecting on their school and themselves.

One out-of-state parent commented that he thought the school would be the best place for his son because of what he had heard and read on the school’s website, but now he feels sure that St. Bernard is where he wants to be.

Some visitors were past alumni and spoke of their fond memories of the school and the quality education they received.  But most importantly they spoke of the impact attending St. Bernard had on their life, their relationships with the monks who taught them, their friendships with their classmates that have stood the test of time, and the values and life-long lessons they learned during their years at St. Bernard as a student.  

“These family members want the same experience for their grandchildren, or nieces or nephews,” Bryant said.

Fr. Joel Martin, President of St. Bernard Prep, recently returned from a trip to China where he was contacted by the family of a young man in Shanghai who is very interested in attending St. Bernard.  A family friend who now lives in Atlanta made the trip to Cullman to see the school on behalf of the young student and his family.  The friend was happy to report back that he was very impressed with what he saw and heard. 

"We know we have a good learning environment at St. Bernard,” Dr. Bryant said.  “When we have families visit our campus, it’s an easy sell.  They experience an atmosphere conducive to learning, and know their children will be known well by their teachers."

 St. Bernard students truly exemplify our mission statement, "St. Bernard is committed to fully engaging students in learning for the whole person –body, mind and spirit.  Corpus-Mens-Spritus."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Saint Bernard Swim Team off to a great start

The Saint Bernard Swim Team has had a fantastic beginning, grabbing two first place wins, numerous other places, as well as personal best times in the Cullman High School Invitational Swim Meet recently held at the Cullman Wellness and Aquatic Center in Cullman.   

One of the first place finishes was earned by Sean Moriarty, who competed with nineteen others for the Men’s 100-Yard Freestyle with a final time of 54.17.  With thirty-five competitors, Saint Bernard team members did well in the Men’s 50-Yard Freestyle—Sean Moriarty took second place with a time of 24.16, and John Paul Stolz placed ninth with a time of 25.59.  Stolz also grabbed a fourth place in the Men’s 100-Yard Breaststroke with a time of 1:17.95.

Saint Bernard’s other first place win was produced by Bennett Glasscock who had a final time of 55.87 in a pool of ten competitors in the Men’s 100-Yard Butterfly.

Although swimming exhibition,  the Saints 200 Yard Freestyle Relay finished 1st out of 8 High Schools represented in the meet with a time of 1:39.40.  They also finished fourth in the 200 Yard Medley Relay with a time of 1:54.27.  Relay swimmers were: JP Stolz, Nate Giffin, Sean Moriarty and Bennett Glasscock.

The ladies of the Saint Bernard team also had a great showing.  Sarah Peel took a fourth place out of ten competitors in the Women’s 200-Yard IM with a final time of 2:29.10.  She also claimed the fifth place position of nineteen participants in the Women’s 100-Yard Breaststroke with a final time of 1:17.11.

Torey Badar finished with a respectable sixteenth of forty-three, with a final time of 31.50 in the Women’s 50-Yard Freestyle; she took fifteenth place of twenty-four swimmers in the Women’s 100-Yard Freestyle with a personal best time of 1:14.19.

The Saint Bernard Swim Team is growing in popularity and talent under the direction of Coach Carson Glasscock.  The  Saints will travel to Chattanooga, TN on November 17 to participate in the McCallie Invitational Swim Meet.  For a complete schedule visit www.stbernardprep.com.