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St. Mary campaign geared to drive enrollment

BY KATHLEEN FOXkfox@paducahsun.com

St. Mary debuted a new marketing campaign that officials hope will increase enrollment, expand faith-based service learning opportunities for students and continue the school's strong academic focus.

System director Eleanor Spry announced the new mission statement to students and families who gathered Sunday for an open house and luncheon to kick off the 40th annual Catholic Schools Week. Spry, surrounded by teachers clad in hats, sunglasses and school colors, announced the beginning for a new marketing campaign modeled on the 1980 movie "The Blues Brothers" and the tagline: "We are on a mission, a mission from God."

She said the new school mantra is based on several key components, including reaching out to the community through service programs and expressing the faith-based and scholastically-focused student learning opportunities available at St. Mary.

"For too long St. Mary has languished and now we are ready to show who we are and what we have to offer," she said. "Our focus is faith-based because we know strong students make a strong school."

Spry told the group that St. Mary will mold and develop students to take the next step of a postsecondary education and eventually return and contribute to the local area. Another target area is fundraising for local, national and international mission trips and projects for students. Students are required to complete 15 hours yearly and have a minimum of 75 hours of volunteer work by graduation. Additional future projects Spry mentioned included the expansion of bus routes, small building upgrades, new technology innovations and equipment and finances for tuition assistance programs.

"When you invest in St. Mary with your time, money or talents, you are investing in the economic development of Paducah and McCracken County," she said.

The campaign, which is set to include billboards and marketing through other channels, is geared toward reaching potential students and introducing residents to the small, service-driven atmosphere. The kindergarten to high school school system currently has an enrollment of about 450, with small-class sizes and quality student-teacher ratios, according to school marketing director Heather DeHart.

She said the campaign will also include "points of pride" or facts, awards and accolades about the current student body to help introduce or update people in the community about the school and its programs.

Catholic Schools Week continues through the upcoming school week. Students and faculty will celebrate mass with Rev. Williams Medley, a bishop of the Diocese of Owensboro, and other local religious leaders Tuesday. Other events include an antibullying assembly led by the Southern Illinois Miners in Marion, Ill., baseball team, a 100th day of school parade, sundae Monday, bingo games, trivia, faith-based T-shirt day and a food drive for the Paducah Cooperative Ministry.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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