GREENVILLE — Three hundred-fifty red and white balloons floated upward towards the sky outside of St. Philip School on September 9, commemorating 50 years educating students in academics and faith.
Each balloon had a small anniversary postcard with the name and photo of the school attached. A Connecticut couple discovered a balloon in a holly bush outside of their home, 80 miles from the school. The couple wrote the school to express their happiness over finding the gift that had traveled so far to see them.
During an unforgettable birthday celebration, students and faculty ate birthday cake and celebrated with alumni, former faculty and members of the community. Principal of St. Philip School, Darlene Walsh said that the school plans on having a larger celebration during Catholic Schools Week and special events throughout the year.
“It was really a nice celebration. The students loved it,” said Walsh. “We had several huge sheet cakes and the children were very good and held on to their balloons. The big kick-off was fabulous.”
St. Philip School opened its doors in 1960 when Father Joseph P. McNamara, pastor of the parish, invited the Sisters of Mercy to staff his new school. Blessed and dedicated on January 15th of that year by the Bishop of Providence, Thomas F. Maloney, St. Philip School initially served 189 students in grades 1-4.
Walsh emphasized that the mission of the school is to offer quality education, build community and inspire service. With the total number of students at 272 in grades Pre-K through Grade 8, Walsh shared that enrollment has continued to grow.
"We have a good, strong enrollment which we are grateful about. We also have a very strong parent involvement in the school. It's part of our mission to have a family environment, and I really do think we have that here. We have a wonderful and close relationship with the families."
Walsh explained that St. Philip School has an active alumni association that offers support to all former students and graduates of the school. She added that the alumni are dedicated to promoting service to the St. Philip School community – past, present and future.
“We have many parents who are graduates of St. Philip who have chosen to send their children here,” said Walsh. “It is a wonderful testimony that St. Philip was an important part of their lives and they want that same experience for their children”
For the past 30 years, Assistant Principal Patt McCormick, has been dedicating her days to education at St. Philip School. A teacher at the Greenville school for 19 years, she describes the St. Philip community as family.
“I felt that I was able to live my faith here at St. Philip,” said McCormick, whose children also attended the school. “I always felt that this was where I belonged. I still love it here. It’s a beautiful school. You walk in the doors here and you feel our faith in this school.”
The principal explained that the goal for the future is to continue to provide an environment that motivates students academically while nurturing their Catholic faith.
We want to continue with the programs we have in place and polish and improve them any way we can,” she said.
Much more than an academic environment, Walsh said that the St. Philip's community is helping the students to be the best people they can possibly be.
"Building community brings families together in a special way," she said. "Parents recognize that we are enforcing what they are trying to instill at home. I think it's the school’s role to help support the parents. Everybody pitches in here and because of that St. Philip School is over the top as far as being a loving, caring, beautiful academic community. It's all that a school should be."