Feels like family
St. Rose Academy gives students a solid foundation, rooted in faith
by Lauren Dowdle
Birmingham’s St. Rose Academy focuses on three things: faith, family, and the fundamentals. If their alumni are any indication, it’s clear the school has found a winning combination.
They have 190 students in K3 through eighth grade, however, some of them will be homeschooling or taking virtual classes this year, says Christine Salberg, director of institutional advancement at St. Rose Academy. “It’s a home with an exceptional intellectual and spiritual foundation,” she says of St. Rose. “We’ve created a faith-filled environment to nurture the academic excellence of students.”
A Long Tradition
Many say attending the academy feels like home—and that’s exactly what the building was originally. The building was once a house that was given to the Dominican Sisters of the Saint Cecilia Congregation by the Mackin family more than 60 years ago. “It’s because of a generous family that we have been able to educate children and their families in Birmingham since 1956,” Salberg says.
The home-turned-school has undergone major changes through the years, though this year might prove to be the most different due to COVID-19. “We want to make our families feel safe, and we are doing everything in our power to make that happen,” she says.
Some of the ways they’re keeping everyone safe is by staggering drop-off times, taking temperatures, keeping students from passing in the hallway, and creating more outdoor spaces they can enjoy.
One of their donors helped create a covered outdoor classroom that has stadium seating and a wall for white boards. They have another outdoor area where students can sit, as well as a pavilion in the parking lot and a tent in the courtyard.
Another aspect that’s had to change is their fundraising efforts. With tuition covering only 70 percent of the academy’s costs, they normally hold in-person events to raise money. However, they have had to get creative in this time of social distancing. They hosted an online caring campaign, and they plan to hold a virtual gala and golf tournament for the first time.
One thing that has stayed the same is their dedication to high-quality teaching. “We have some amazing teachers,” Salberg says. “Our students all go on to do amazing things.” That includes excelling in the arts, being inducted into the honor society, becoming valedictorians, and thriving in high school and beyond. Earlier this year, St. Rose Academy held its Festival of Fine Arts, which featured some of their professional alumni singers, musicians, and dancers. “It was phenomenal,” Salberg says.
Something that’s unique for an elementary and middle school is that St. Rose Academy continues to have lasting support from alumni, even ones from as far back as the ‘60s. While the school has grown and changed through the years, it hasn’t lost the family connection that makes it so special. And that closeness and support won’t change, as they are excited and ready to have students back. “We’re all looking forward to seeing those beautiful faces, even with masks,” she says.