By Tony DeGol
Brother Michael Miller, OSB, is beginning his 13th year teaching at Saint Benedict School in Carrolltown, but he is hardly worried that it will be an unlucky one.
It is the longest he has ever taught at one school, and he loves every minute of the journey.
“I’m not just saying this, but this is the best thing I’ve ever had as far as a place to be and something great to do,” he stated. “This is a great Benedictine parish and a great community. I really enjoy this area of Cambria County, and this school has been wonderful.”
His enthusiasm was contagious on August 17 – the first day of the 2021-2022 academic year at the school.
“I’m telling the students that this is our chance to start fresh,” Brother Michael said after his first few classes. “This is our time to do as well as we can from the beginning. Be on top of everything. You don’t want to find out in a couple of weeks that you’re already behind.”
The new school year is especially exciting for Brother Michael as he is teaching Social Studies to grades five through eight – a subject he taught at the beginning of his career and thoroughly enjoys.
Saint Benedict was the first Catholic elementary school in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown to begin the new academic year, with other schools opening this week or next.
By mid-morning of that first day, everyone seemed to be back in the routine.
“We had a great grand opening,” assured Principal Jeffrey Maucieri. “We’ve set our goals for the year, and we want to make sure that we stay positive. We’re keeping it fresh, and we’re creating great opportunities for the children for learning.”
As eighth graders Brayden Douglas and Miley Hoover begin their final stretch at Saint Benedict, hopes are high for a successful year.
“My favorite subject is Math, and I like to work really hard to keep my grades up,” Hoover explained. “With all my classes, I want to keep my grades really high and do really well in all of them.”
The first day was a time for Douglas to reflect on the past and look to the future.
“Saint Benedict is such a good school, and I’ve learned so much here,” he noted. “It’s taught me discipline and right from wrong, which is really helpful. The teachers here are really helpful, also. I’m excited to see what eighth grade is going to be like, but I’m also excited to see what high school is also going to be like after this year.”
The first day of first grade went well for Kameron Frederick, who is looking forward to Math and Reading.
“I like Gym because it’s fun,” he added.
The entire school community seems to recognize the blessing of being part of an environment that combines a love of God, service to others, and high academic achievement.
“It’s all about keeping Christ right beside us as we walk through this journey of education and create as many opportunities as we can for the students,” stressed Maucieri.
“It says in our mission statement that Jesus Christ is the center of everything we do, and that’s certainly true,” insisted Brother Michael.
[Photos: (Top) Saint Benedict students (clockwise from top left) Brayden Douglas, Miley Hoover, Kameron Frederick, and Colt Kammerer. (First Inset) Brother Michael Miller, OSB, teaching Social Studies. (Second Inset) Students immerse themselves in classroom learning on the first day of school.]