St. Mary’s Central Catholic School in Odessa began serving the communities of Midland / Odessa in September 1960 with an initial enrollment of 108 students from Kindergarten through third grade who received quality education with a strong faith-based academic curriculum regardless of their various socio-economic and religious backgrounds. In the subsequent years, fourth, fifth and sixth grades were added. This academic year 2012-2013, the enrollment has gone up to 240 from Pre-K through sixth grade.
During the first two years of its existence, the school had to heavily rely on voluntary services of many well trained lay personnel. From 1962-1987, trained lay staff and religious nuns from three different congregations, namely the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate, Daughters of Charity, and Sisters of the Living Word, served as administrators and teachers. But from 1988 onward, qualified lay-personnel have been staffed as principal and teachers.
In 1997, with a grant from the Daughters of Charity Congregation, a Wellness Center (a multipurpose facility) was built to host a variety of curricular and extra-curricular activities such as physical education classes, religion preparatory classes and retreats, school assemblies, sporting events, and festivals. In the same year, partnering with the Texas Tech Nursing Program, the school also began organizing “Health Fairs” in the wellness center to provide free vision screening and hearing screening for the students and local communities.
They relocated the school library to a larger facility in 2002, which now houses more than 2,500 books. A good number of new books, educational magazines, and periodicals are added to the library each year. The Kenedy Memorial Foundation of Texas awarded a grant in 2009 to purchase 20 new computers and 6 document cameras for the computer lab. This summer, the school has added another 7 new computers along with a document camera and a projector for each teacher, and enabled the students to make adequate research and take their “Reading Tests” for the Accelerated Reading Program efficiently.
In addition to Physical Education and Art-Instruction, St. Mary’s students have been provided with an opportunity to learn Music as a subject since 2011. Likewise, from this year onward, Computer Science will also be offered as a subject. A newly hired full-time computer teacher will teach Computer Science classes for students and facilitate teachers’ technology instruction.
Like the St. Mary’s alumni, 13 students participated in the Regional Science Fair at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) last year, and won the following awards and prizes: Sean Sanchez and Lucas Salinas (National Association of Corrosion / Engineer Award), Kenley Young (The Air Force Award), Sammy Melton (first prize in the Earth/Space competition), Gio Renacio (first prize in Math/Physics), Kenley Young and Dallas Galindo (first prize and second prize respectively in Engineering), Kenley Young and Joshua Villalobos represented the school at the State Science Fair in San Antonio and the Regional Spelling Bee at Odessa College respectively.
Taking into consideration the structural inefficiency and un-eco-friendly school facilities as well as the future needs for more space for school growth, in the fall of 2010, the school management hired JSA Architects to assess its campus and make recommendations. Based on their findings, the management prepared the project matrix, identified the scope of work, and began addressing the impending structural challenges and other related issues in two phases.
In the summer of 2011, Phase One of the project began with the initial cost of $45,000.00. This summer 2012, the management took up $635,000.00 worth of a major renovation and repair project, and made numerous infrastructure and energy-efficient repairs including a new DuroLast roof, eight new air-conditioning units and duct works, new lighting, electrical components and wiring, plumbing, piping, and fixtures, new ceilings throughout, and a fresh coat of paint.
One of the significant and most apparent changes is the replacement of the north and south exterior window systems with new conventional classroom walls and windows. The students and faculty are very excited to begin their new academic year (2012-2013) in the newly-renovated facilities, especially in the Central Building. The school constituents happily announced that “Our St. Mary’s Central Catholic School has a new facelift!”
On August 27, 2012, St. Mary’s Central Catholic School enters in its 52nd academic year of service “To Teach as Jesus Taught” (the school motto). Continuing their rich tradition of marking the beginning of the new academic year to receive blessings from Our Almighty God, on September 5, 2012 at 2:00 P.M., the Holy Mass is scheduled to be celebrated by Most Rev. Michael D. Pfeifer (Bishop of San Angelo) and con-celebrated by a visiting Bishop, Most Rev. Thomas Macwan (India), and the Catholic Priests from the Catholic Churches of Midland/Odessa Deanery, followed by the blessing of the entire school facilities, especially the newly renovated Central Building.
During the Eucharistic celebration, St. Mary’s Central Catholic School will recognize and honor seven individuals and one organization chosen from our local communities as “Patrons” and present them with “The Knight’s Award” for their outstanding contributions to our school community over the years. All are cordially invited. All are welcome!
Submitted by Rev. Santiago Udayar, Ed.D, Pastor/ School Administrator