LEARNING IN THE WORD: Vicksburg area faith-based schools ready for school year

Published 4:00 am Sunday, July 31, 2022

Summer may still be going strong with temperatures hovering in the 90s but for area students the first weeks of August signal a return to the classroom and the start of another school year.

Vicksburg Warren School District schools open on Aug. 5, while most of the county’s faith-based schools begin the following week, with Vicksburg Catholic School and Travelers Rest Academy starting classes Aug. 8. Porter’s Chapel Academy starts classes Aug. 10.

The opening of Travelers Rest Academy marks a return of the school at Travelers Rest Baptist Church. The school opened in 2001 only to close several years later.

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“Our enrollment is now at 20 students and increasing fast,” Janet Watts, the school’s director, said Thursday. “I gave out seven applications yesterday (Wednesday).”

Watts said the school is coming together very well for its first day.

“The teachers’ rooms are lovely and I’m putting our library together and waiting on computers for the students. When we get them, then we’ll be all right,” she said.

St. Aloysius High School begins the school year with a familiar face at the helm.

“We’ve got great kids, great teachers; great expectations for everybody here,” said St. Aloysius principal Buddy Stricklin, who returns to the school as principal replacing Karla McHan.

“We have a new principal and a principal-to-be (John Graham),” he said. “Just the change in leadership, and with a change in leadership you’ve got to focus on a new direction and I think we’re all excited about the direction of where we’re going and our goals and how we’re going to measure success this year.”

“We’re ready to rock ’n roll,” said Mary Arledge, St. Francis Xavier Elementary principal. She said teachers will begin preparations for the school year beginning Monday.

“We will have some new faces with new teachers,” Arledge said. “The students will come in on the 8th, and we’re just ready for a normal school year.”

And while they get ready to start the school year, students will also be able to receive some spiritual assistance.

Two area churches, St. Paul Catholic Church and St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Bovina will continue longtime traditions on Aug. 7 with the blessing of students’ backpacks.

The Rev. Elisabeth Malphurs, St. Alban’s rector, said the Sunday blessing involves more than backpacks.

“I never know how many (students) to expect so we invite not just students but all the teachers, school support staff people who work in the schools,” she said. “We recognize that this is a transitional time for all of them and ask all of them to come up and let us bless them for the year ahead.

“I think that, as we send our kids back to school, it’s a time for us at St. Alban’s to think about other kids who go back to school who may not have everything they need,” she said, adding the congregation also collected school supplies to give to children who need them.

She said this year the church made a donation to a civic organization in Edwards for school supplies and donated uniforms to the children at Lifting Lives Ministry, a shelter for homeless families in Vicksburg.

“It’s a time to think about not just about our own kids, but the whole community’s kids,” Malphurs said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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