Markham's St. Joseph school celebrates 50 years of Catholic Education

St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School in Markham celebrated its 50th anniversary today with a special blessing Mass at St. Patrick's Parish, just days after the Catholic community celebrated the feast day for the school's patron saint.

The Mass, celebrated by Father Rick Davis  and Father Domenic Barber took place at 10 a.m. and included an honour guard by the Knights of Columbus. Following the Mass, there were greetings from special guests including YCDSB Vice-Chair, Elizabeth Crowe, and Director of Education, Patricia Preston. The school's Trustee, Marlene Mogado was also in attendance.  Principal Rose Polak, also read letters sent to the school by the local MPP and MP.

This evening, there will be a School Open House, which the entire school community, including current and former students, staff, parents and guardians are invited to attend.

The Open House will take place from 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. at the school, which is located at 388 White's Hill Avenue. The Open House will feature slideshows from previous decades at the school, memorabilia and exhibits of work by the school's current students.

Over the last five decades, St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School has served as a cornerstone for Markham's Catholic community. It first opened its doors to students during the 1966-1967 school year, under the direction of its inaugural principal, Grant Andrews. It was the second Catholic school in Markham. The York Catholic District School Board now operates 22 schools in Markham. The school was originally located at 55 Parkway Avenue. Ten years after it opened, an addition was built on to the school that included a gym, library and an additional 11 classrooms. During the 2014-2015 school year, St. Joseph CES moved to its new location at 388 White's Hill Avenue, which better accommodates families who reside in Markham's growing Cornell community. The new school features a music room, a reflection room and has built-in infrastructure to support new technologies. It has a dynamic Learning Commons, as well as an outdoor classroom with a sitting area and a garden patch where vegetables are grown to be donated to the Markham Food Bank.

Today the school serves over 460 students from Kindergarten to Grade 8, and also offers a Before and After School Program provided by the Village Child Care Centre. St. Joseph's current Principal, Rosemary Polak, oversaw the transition from the old school facility to its new one, and has witnessed the school community flourish.

"In its new location, the school has been equipped with state of the art technology, which has assisted with the delivery of curriculum and student learning," says Rosemary Polak. "We offer a variety of programs and clubs at St. Joseph CES that enhance student engagement, as well as develop collaborative communication skills. A 50th anniversary is quite the milestone; I look forward to celebrating this anniversary with all of our students, parents, staff and friends who have contributed to our success over the past 50 years. This will be a great opportunity to reminisce and reconnect."