SAINT ROSE OF LIMA: WHERE EVER STUDENT IS A SUCCESS STORY
Like many parents, Diane Slaikeu and her husband made sacrifices to send their children to Catholic school. She remembers working part-time at the school and church to pay for tuition while her husband worked 24-hour shifts as a firefighter and paramedic.
“We did everything we could to keep our kids going there, and it was well worth it,” Mrs. Slaikeu said. “Catholic education is something we really value, and the positive outcomes continue to show in our children today.”
Looking back on her three children’s time attending St. Peter Catholic School in North St. Paul, Dianne Slaikeu said Catholic education provided them a foundation in the faith that has carried into their adulthood.
“A house is no good unless you build the foundation right,” Mrs. Slaikeu said. “You have to have a firm foundation, or nothing else builds on top of it. That’s also true in life.”
For Dianne’s youngest, Sean Slaikeu, roots in Catholic education have blossomed into a life as a Catholic elementary school principal. He hopes to provide that same firm foundation for students at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic School in Roseville, where he is now principal.
“I want our students to know that [they’re] not defined by a specific project; instead, [they’re] defined by who [they] are as a person,” said Slaikeu. “The grades, assignments and academics are part of who [they] are, not the whole picture.”
This aspiration was sculpted by Slaikeu’s experience as a student. Slaikeu recalled when he performed poorly on a test, and his teacher patted him on the shoulder and said, “It’s going to be OK.”
“Never once did I feel like the teachers were against me,” Slaikeu said. “They were always supporting me, and I remember that because I was always against myself.”
THE WHOLE PICTURE
Slaikeu and the faculty and staff at Saint Rose are committed to making the classroom experience exceptional. An important part of that is the recently refreshed environment. All technology was updated. And the rooms that house STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and special services, as well as the multi-purpose and conference rooms, were remodeled, creating more effective spaces to serve students and staff. Catholic identity also is evident throughout the building with a column featuring a crucifix, St. Rose of Lima statue and the school’s mission statement in each classroom, which all received a fresh coat of paint. Final touches of new blinds, rugs, flags and furniture give life to the building.
“Our building is 77 years old, and it looks phenomenal,” Slaikeu said. “We take pride in our school, and when you walk in you can see that.”
This year, 139 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade are enrolled at Saint Rose, which attracts students from Roseville, St. Paul, Falcon Heights, Little Canada, Lino Lakes, Inver Grove Heights and Blaine. The school was founded in 1940, a year after the parish community that today serves almost 1,500 households.
Second-grade teacher Eileen McGurran has taught at Saint Rose since 2005. As a former Saint Rose student, McGurran said her dream job was to teach at Saint Rose. Her favorite memory is recreated every year while teaching the sacraments.
“Seeing the kids come to the Lord’s table for the first time is wonderful and moving,” she said of students receiving their first Communion. “You know how close they are to God in those moments. It is a gift to walk that journey with the kids.”
Parent Laura Sigler said her daughter Haley, currently in the eighth grade and her last year at Saint Rose, has blossomed over the years.
“I remember being scared sending her to kindergarten, because we had worked so hard to instill certain values in her,” she said. “But now I know that I’m sending her into a positive, respectful community where she’s safe, happy and encouraged in all these values. She’s not nervous to be herself.”
Haley attested to the Saint Rose experience as a whole. She is involved in basketball, soccer, choir and student council, and used to play guitar in the band. Haley spoke highly of the student council’s Haunted Tunnel event around Halloween, the co-ed soccer games against other schools on the weekends, and her love for singing and praising God with other students and church members in the choir.
Beyond classes and extra-curricular activities, Haley said Saint Rose has given her friends for a lifetime.
“Our grades are small enough where it’s not only the girls or only the boys who hangout with each other,” Haley said. “We really come together as a class and have a great time.”
McGurran is most proud of the success of each student who walks through the halls of Saint Rose.
“It may be success in a day. It may be success over a couple months. It may be success in a grade,” she said. “But I would consider every one of our students a success story.”
FAITH AND COMMUNITY
Religion class guides students through the sacraments and beyond. The entire school attends Mass together every other Wednesday, where students fulfill roles as cantors, readers, altar servers and cross bearers.
The school’s Spirit Partners program pairs younger students with upperclass mentors, who sit together during Mass. The partnership encourages student involvement and gives younger students role models in their journey of faith and academics.
Saint Rose’s community extends beyond the students and teachers. Parents and grandparents have numerous opportunities to get involved in the school, including classroom helper, health office assistant, school advisory committee, playground and lunchroom supervisors, copy helpers and in numerous Home and School Association activities.
Tammy Thompson, the mother of two Saint Rose graduates, contributed her interior design skills to help with renovation initiatives as part of her involvement.
Thompson described the positive impact Saint Rose had on her children, Olivia and Will.
“I truly can’t imagine sending them anywhere else,” Thompson said. “At my son’s eighth grade graduation, I was reflecting in hopes that more kids could experience this school. I want this legacy to continue because it’s too good to go away.”
Olivia and Will jumped right into advanced placement and honors classes at their new high school.
“I felt so confident in the knowledge Saint Rose had given our kids up until eighth grade that they were going to do just fine,” Thompson said. “They had the moral foundation they needed.”
“We were asking a lot of a school, and Saint Rose has done it,” Sigler said. “Every morning, Haley wakes up and she’s happy to go to school. When she comes out of school, she’s smiling. That’s the greatest feeling.”