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St. Mathias school in Hampton to close

by Jane Lightbourn

Staff writer

For more than 90 years, St. Mathias School in Hampton has held true to its mission of offering a Christian, Catholic education for its students.

At the end of this 20101-2011 school, St. Mathias School, located next to the namesake church in Hampton, will close.

There are 22 students at the school.

On Friday, Jan. 14, the Rev. John Nienstedt, archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, made the announcement that St. Mathias, St. Joseph's School in Red Wing and San Miguel Middle School in Minneapolis would close. The individual schools made the decision to close.

"The closing of a Catholic school always involves sad and difficult decisions," wrote Nienstedt in his announcement. "Families and school staff are deeply impacted, as is the entire parish and school community.

"We may take comfort, however, in knowing that when a school building closes, the history and tradition of the school community lives on in the generations of students who walked the halls and were formed in the classrooms," he wrote.

"The closing of school is always difficult," said Superintendent of Catholic schools Mary Frauenheim. "The Archdiocese is working closely with school leaders to ease the transition for affected families."

St. Mathias School went through an intensive review process as outlined in the Strategic Plan of the Archdiocese, which was released in October. A local school task force involving church and school leaders and community members was organized.

The task force participated in a careful analysis and review of data related to financial management, academic quality, Catholic identity, and advancement, as outlined in the Strategic Plan, under the criteria for viable schools.

This process included an open meeting with school families and other stakeholders at the school. The task force developed a recommendation for the long-term future of their school based on what they learned through the process.

In December, members of each school's task force individually presented their recommendations regarding the future of their particular school to a review board made up of archdiocese staff and others.

The archdiocese office is working closely with affected school to help find new Catholic schools to meet their needs.

St. Mathias - long-time tradition

St. Mathias Catholic School not only was formed to meet the parent's need to provide a strong catholic education for their children, but it was also a dream of early settlers to provide for future generations.

A barn which had been bought with the Doffing house by the Rev. Schlinkert in 1905 was converted into the Catholic school and was completed Nov. 12, 1918. The School Sisters of Notre Dame staffed the school. There were 29 students enrolled.

The school enrollment grew and, in 1924, staff and administrators realized they needed a larger building. The new school was built and completed in 1925. It was a three-story structure with four classrooms and room for the convent. In 1925, there were 105 students.

When the sisters left in 1950, the school continued to operate as a Catholic Church. In 1951, St. Mathias was operated a public school.

With the returns of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, a new convent was built in 1961, and the school was again staffed and operated as a Catholic school.

Today, St. St. Mathias serves pre-kindergarten through grade five. Five teachers, a librarian and a music teacher provide the Christian education. Angelin Pettit is principal.

Its mission statement is: "As parents and educators, we are working together to promote respectful, responsible, Christ-like citizens who promote Catholic values and high academic standards."