Holy Family School opened in the fall of 1886, closed in 1888 and opened again in 1890. Benedictine sisters staffed the school between 1890 and 1998.
Holy Family School has 117 students in grades K-6 and 18 preschoolers who come from eight different parishes. There are nine classroom teachers in preschool through grade 6 and library/computer room plus part-time specialists in the areas of art, physical education and music. Administration, office staff, custodial and part-time lunch and classroom aides make up the balance of the school staff.
The following questions were answered by Bonnie Massmann, principal at the school for the past 10 years. Prior to that she was a principal at other schools in the diocese for 16 years. She has a master’s degree and a sixth-year degree in educational leadership and holds a Minnesota K-12 administrative licensure. Before becoming an administrator, she taught for seven years in Catholic schools.
Q: What is a unique program, event or tradition at your school?
A: In the fall of 2017 we will be adding curriculum that focuses on entrepreneurship. This program focuses on leadership skills by first being a leader of their own lives and then expanding these skills to be leaders in their school and community. The program emphasizes that by being ethical to a fault we show others that we are trustworthy and loyal. The students will learn basic concepts of money handling, operation of a simple business, simple advertising concepts and the importance of working as part of a team. One of the final activities of the program will be to develop a student-run “business.”
Q: Tell about a time when you witnessed or heard of a student (or students) who lived out their faith in action.
A: Each year students in our fourth-grade class foster a special relationship with our next-door neighbor, Mother of Mercy Nursing Home and its residents. They visit the residents on a regular basis to play games, converse, sing or do other special activities. The residents appreciate the attention they receive from the students; but even more so, the students develop a respect for the elderly and enjoy hearing the stories of what life was like decades ago. This past year the students even went on a sleigh ride with the residents from MOM.
Q: What is an interesting anecdote or historical fact about your school?
A: The Holy Family School building is a very architecturally interesting structure. The current top floor and attic was previously an auditorium with a balcony. This space was not only used for school activities but for many community events as well. Alumni of the school have shared that they enjoyed many Saturday afternoon movies in the auditorium. In 1984 the auditorium was remodeled to accommodate seven additional classrooms.
Q: How has serving as a principal in a Catholic school made a difference in your faith life?
A: The benefits to the faith life for employees at a Catholic school are very similar to the benefits the students experience. Each day automatically includes prayer, discussions related to faith topics and working in an environment that is Christ-centered.
Q: What is one prayer intention you’d like to have offered for your school?
A: Our prayer intention would be twofold. First, in thanksgiving for the founders and supporters of Holy Family School, that they be blessed for their concern for the children of our communities. The second part of our intention would be for continued support, so that there will always be a “Holy Family School” for the families of Albany and surrounding communities.