Faith-based education, teaching 21st-century skills, classrooms equipped with the latest in technology and the many sports, art and extracurricular activities all add to the educational experience at St. Paul School in North Canton.

Faith-based education, teaching 21st-century skills, classrooms equipped with the latest in technology and the many sports, art and extracurricular activities all add to the educational experience at St. Paul School in North Canton.

The school has found a way to extend its educational opportunities through its newly developed Centers for Learning program.

The program is one of two initiatives the Catholic school has taken to ensure its students receive a top-notch education. The first initiative that principal Jackie Zufall implemented to enhance the educational experience is working with the board to make a commitment to attract and retain talented teachers. Salaries were raised a few years ago to be competitive with public schools.

The second initiative was to develop and implement the Centers for Learning program. Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades participate by taking a class from one of the areas of focus once a week throughout each semester.

“The Centers for Learning extend learning beyond the core curriculum and students choose their learning experiences in concentrations such as medicine, science, engineering, technology, the arts and global leadership,” Zufall said.

Students attend an hour-long class during regular school hours. Students will also get to experience field trips associated with the area of learning. For example, those involved with the medical classes may visit an area hospital.

Some of the classes that have already been held include Law Review where students followed a defendant through the justice system. Students also got to go to Judge Taryn Heath's courtroom for a mock trial. Engineering to Build introduced students  to the vast field of engineering. Professional engineers came to the classrooms to meet the students and to talk about solving engineer-related problems.

Others included the Spartan Choir Show for those students who love to sing and dance. The Visual and Performing Arts Academy has a focus on visual arts with basic drawing and using a variety of media choices.

The Art Institute had classes taught by the art teacher at St. Paul School. St. Paul studentes were invited to display their art at the Little Gallery in North Canton this year for the first time. A Faith Bound Center for Learning explored different faiths and faith expressions such as music, prayer, art and reflection.

For the future, a Monarch Butterfly class is being planned where students will design and build a monarch butterfly garden on campus. A Theater Improv center also is planned with the help of Arts in Stark.

“The students have absolutely loved participating in the different Centers for Learning,” Zufall said. “The kids get to choose each area they want to study and they have had a great time learning and socializing.”

UNIQUE TO ST. PAUL

St. Paul School has 350 students in kindergarten through eighth grades and 65 students in the pre-kindergarten classes. It employs 24 teachers. Students attending come from Jackson Township, North Canton, Plain Township and Lake Township.

The school was started in 1919 in the same location as it sits today. It is the second largest in the Holy Cross Academy system.

Zufall has been principal at St. Paul School for more than 20 years and her enthusiasm about the school is still fresh and exciting. In addition to the Centers for Learning and having talented teams of teachers, Zufall said there are several additional factors that set the school apart.

“We are a campus of buildings at St. Paul. The campus has four buildings, really five with the preschool which is in what used to be a bank building on Main Street,” Zufall said. “We are heavily involved with the community. You'll see our students walking from our campus to the North Canton Community YMCA building or to the North Canton Public Library. We also have built strong relationships with Walsh University and the North Canton Fire and Police departments.”

The school has a robust drama program. Students will be performing in a production of “Annie” this year. Zufall said 65 kids will be participating in the musical in some way.

The faith-based education is an important component at St. Paul School. Zufall said it is the “hallmark of a Catholic education.”

“The families of the kids that go to Catholic schools become close to each other in and out of the school setting. The parental support is exceptional, “ she said.

Zufall said the school is getting ready to turn 100 years old in a few years. The buildings are well-kept and are continually updated with the help of the parents and the community.

PARENTS, COMMUNITY

Public and private K12 schools have had to rely on parents and community support more and more these days. St. Paul School is one of those schools that has seen parents and the community step up to help ensure students succeed in their educational endeavors.

The school holds a silent auction every spring to help raise money for the school. The last auction raised $80,000 and the school was able to update its library including buying iPads for the students to use. When the school needed to update its art room, the community and parents helped raise $170,000 to provide students with an art room where creativity can blossom.

“The art room used to look pretty beat up and it really needed to be updated,” Zufall said. “When we asked the parents and the community to help us with the room, the support was really just extraordinary.”

St. Paul School is located at 303 South Main Street in North Canton. To find out more information about the school, call 330-494-0223 or visit the website at www.spsnorthcanton.com.