• December 5, 2019

Celebrating 60 years: St. Mary’s marks milestone anniversary - Odessa American: Education

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Celebrating 60 years: St. Mary’s marks milestone anniversary

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  • St. Mary's Central Catholic School

    P.E. Coach Celina Brooks' kindergarten students play Musical Hula in class Wednesday morning at St. Mary's Central Catholic School. The school is celebrating their 60th anniversary.

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2019 3:59 pm

St. Mary’s Central Catholic School is celebrating its 60th anniversary this month with a calendar of homecoming festivities and one of the largest events in the school’s history.

The Catholic school opened its doors decades ago to 108 students in grades kindergarten through third and continues to be a special place for many in the community. Principal Benjamin Villarreal said although the school facilities have adapted over the years to accommodate the current 286 prekindergarten through eighth-grade students, the values and virtues St. Mary’s instills in its scholars have remained constant.

A diamond anniversary celebration will be held Oct. 19 to highlight St. Mary’s enduring presence as an educational institution in Odessa. The event will provide dinner with a dance to follow in the Devonian Ballroom at the Odessa Marriott Hotel & Convention Center. The Permian Basin String Quartet and Current Nine Band will provide entertainment for attendees.

Carmen Clark Randolph, now 68, reflects back on her time at St. Mary’s as a period where she cultivated fond memories. She said the school stressed more than anything showing love for God, one’s family and one’s neighbor.

“That was the thing that I probably took with me,” Clark Randolph said.

She said the school has grown in many ways since the days when she walked the Catholic school’s hallways in the 60s, and she is looking forward to seeing the changes and reconnecting with former St. Mary’s students during scheduled alumni events.

The school went through a major transformation in recent years to overhaul dated infrastructure and meet the needs of their student body.

Numerous school improvements have occurred in the last six years, including renovations to the second floor, school gym, offices and foyer. The school also expanded their athletic offerings soon after adding enrollment for eighth-grade students in 2017.

Villarreal has served in his role as principal since 2016 and was previously assistant principal at St. Mary’s. He said he is proud of the qualities students develop at the school and sees a bright future for St. Mary’s going forward.

“When students leave our school, they are able to think for themselves and they have a strong religious and academic foundation,” he said. “They go on to be good stewards for the community. We just want to thank the community for always supporting our school and having a Catholic education available in the community.”

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