Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Friday, April 20, 2018

assumpwalk2 Sister Joan Marie Crapps, a second-grade teacher at Assumption School in Manchester, introduces her team to Lisa Donovan on Aug. 10 during the school’s Neighborhood Walk, an effort to canvass the city to talk about the school’s assets and opportunities. With Sister Joan Marie were Kareen Belin and his daughter Aria, who is starting kindergarten at Assumption School. They handed out materials and chatted about the upcoming school year. (Photo by Karen O. Bray)

MANCHESTER – Hoping to raise awareness of the educational opportunities offered at Assumption School in Manchester, organizers and supporters “talked the talk and walked the walk” from one end of Manchester to the other on Aug. 10, during the school’s inaugural Neighborhood Walk event.

It was designed to promote Assumption School’s academic program and welcoming environment, which encourage Christian virtues and family values. The group met for a pep rally and a prayer before taking to the streets.

“We are following the example of our new Pope Francis by walking to reach out and meet people where they are,” said Marguerite Ouellette, who has been principal of the school for seven years.

Ms. Ouellette greeted teachers, parents and students as they arrived at the church hall before the walk, handing out school T-shirts and bottled water while offering suggestions for conversations with residents on the teams’ various routes throughout the town.

“If a question comes up that you can’t answer, please give them my card along with the brochure and make sure they know I am happy to give individual tours of the school [at] almost any time,” Ms. Ouellette told the group of several dozen canvassers.

The walk was sponsored by the school’s P3 (Publicity-Promotion-Perception) Committee, chaired by Assumption parent Rosemary Hills, and organized by member Lenora Sumsky.

Recognizing that Manchester families, like families everywhere, seek information about the most stable and nurturing school environments for their children, the committee made plans for the daylong event.

Walkers shared brochures and firsthand information about their experiences at Assumption School and cited statistics documenting its long record of academic excellence. They also discussed the availability of financial assistance for the upcoming academic year.

“This year, no student will be turned away for financial reasons,” said Ms. Ouellette. “This presents a great opportunity to share our wonderful environment and excellent academic program with additional families.”

Preparations for the walk are a testimony to the creativity and determination of the Assumption School family. After deciding to carry it out, they obtained demographic information and used Internet resources to develop color-coded street maps. Teams used GPS devices to navigate unfamiliar neighborhoods and to locate the addresses of prospective families with elementary school-aged children.

Team leaders included the school’s two women religious, Sister Joan Marie Crapps, who teaches second grade; and Sister Joan Clare Gulden, who teaches seventh. Both are Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church.

Other leaders included Ms. Ouellette; Pam Langelier, who teaches eighth grade; school board member Todd Barbieri; and P3 Committee member Kim Pedneault. Teams included Assumption students and parents wearing school spirit wear. They carried star-shaped balloons, representing the Assumption Allstars sports teams, to garner attention as they walked.

Preliminary information about the walk had been published in several print and online media outlets prior to the event. Lisa Donovan, who said she had read about the walk and thought that her home was too far out for the walkers to reach, called the school on the morning of the walk to leave a voice message about her interest in the school. Just hours later, she was surprised to see a five-member Neighborhood Walk team, headed by Sister Joan Marie, walking up the driveway.

“What a response!” said Mrs. Donovan. She said that she planned to visit the high school prep campus with her son the following week. The son was interested in learning about Assumption’s technology program, including its recent acquisition of Google Chromebooks for middle school students, she said.

After the walk, teams reconvened for a  picnic at the church hall.

While not every eligible home within Manchester’s designated 27.7 square miles was visited this year, organizers and walkers deemed the effort a success. Residents were welcoming and interested, they said, even if they were well-established in another school or did not have an elementary-aged child. Many offered to take materials to distribute among families and friends.

Information about Assumption School is available at assumptionschoolct.com or 860-649-0889.

Assumption School is fully accredited and has two campuses: at 27 So. Adams St. for prekindergarten through grade five, and at 47 Ludlow Road for grades six through eight.