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Academics, Faith and Fun Prevail at Miami's St. Patrick Catholic School

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Established nearly 100 years ago and opened in 1926, this private school caters to students from Kindergarten through grade 8. With a 1935 historic building at its foundation, Principal Bertha Moro notes St. Patrick Catholic School "promotes Christian values and academic excellence by placing God at the center of all learning."

As part of the Miami Beach community for generations, school alumni consists of teachers, parents and parishioners that help foster an environment of love, respect and family. "The atmosphere is definitely different," explains Moro. "Visitors that come to our campus quite often comment on the peace that they feel and the sense of belonging that our students embody."

St. Patrick Catholic School was born from former polo stables. Starting with five classrooms and a cafeteria, the school's later additions included a gym and youth center, media room and science lab.

Following what Moro calls "a rigorous curriculum provided by both the State of Florida and the Archdiocese of Miami," academic excellent is stressed. However, a mix of academics and extracurricular activities keeps kids healthy and energized to continue their learning adventure. Physical education is provided as part of the regular curriculum, while after-school sports programs are readily available for kids in grades 2 through 8. Chess club, robotics, choir, writing workshops, Claymation and karate show the diversity of fun the students can have in between studying the basics: religion, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, Spanish, art and music.

Technology is integral to maintaining the 21st Century communication connection. Apart from over 4,000 titles in various genres, magazines and periodicals, the medial center has 16 networked PCs and 10 laptops that students can use. Each classroom has a Smart Board connected to an Apple TV. Kindergarten through grade 5 make use of iPads, but it's grades 6 through 8 that really make use of their technology. Middle School students can claim a near paperless classroom with the use of iPads for books, resources and assignments.

Moro is quick to point out, "It is important to understand that St. Patrick School is a Catholic school, not a private school. Religion and growing in our faith is an integral part of our curriculum and daily lives." With this knowledge in mind, she continues, "Weekly masses are celebrated and all students are expected to participate in class/school-wide service projects." These service projects are a great way for student youth to help the community.

This school takes pride in all parts of the academy from their rich heritage and traditions to their spirituality and academics, but it's their students that generate the most satisfaction. Moro notes, "We take pride in teaching and instilling life skills that will stay with our students throughout their lives. In addition, their faith becomes an integral part of the decisions that they make."

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