St. Edmond students head back to class

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
St. Edmond kindergartner Thomas Arnold, 6, and third-grader Jaycee Arnold, 8, pose for a quick first day of school photo for mom Ronni Arnold on Monday morning.

A buzz filled St. Edmond Catholic School on Monday morning. It was the buzz of the start of a new school year for the school’s 600 students and 70 staff.

“You can just feel the excitement in the building,” said Principal Tabitha Acree. “The kids are just excited to see all of their friends and meet their teacher.”

The teachers are excited for the new school year, too, she added.

“Just to hear the laughter and the noise in the hallways — I mean, that’s why we do what we do for our kids,” Acree said.

The school kicked off the school year with a pair of flag-raising ceremonies — one for the elementary schoolers and one for the middle and high schoolers — led by National Guardsmen with the local 133rd Test Squadron. After the students recited the pledge of allegiance in unison, the Rev. Brian Feller gave a blessing to start the school year.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
St. Edmond Catholic School elementary students head to class on the first day of school on Monday morning.

“I think it is awesome that we started with the flag raising and then also a blessing for our students, our staff and our parents,” Acree said.

Though Acree is new at the helm at St. Ed’s, she was the principal at Riverside Early Learning Center for the past six years and noted that the first day of school this year looked markedly different from last year’s first day. For one, this year parents were allowed into the school building, many walking their children to their classrooms before the first bell.

“I think they appreciate that too, because we had some new families that came last year and they had never been in the school before,” she said.

While the situation has improved since 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet, and the school will be taking measures to keep students and staff healthy and safe.

“That’s always our priority because we want to keep kids in school,” she said. “That’s our goal. Kids learn better in person, so we definitely want them here.”

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
St. Edmond first-grade teacher Michelle Rogers leads her students in the pledge of allegiance during Monday morning's flag-raising ceremony for the first day of school.

Students will be allowed to wear a face mask if they wish, but they will not be required. The school also still has a cleaning schedule to clean high-touch areas like doors and bannisters regularly throughout the day.

St. Edmond welcomed seven new staff members this year, Acree said.

“I got to do a new teacher orientation with them and they’re just a nice group, and they kind of bonded together as well,” she said.

One of the new staff members, Emily Boutin, came all the way from the state of Maine to teach at St. Edmond.

“We’re super excited to have her,” Acree said. “She’s our new seventh-grade language arts teacher.”

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
St. Edmond Catholic School elementary students file their way back into the school after the flag-raising ceremony on Monday morning.

Boutin graduated with her master’s degree from the University of Maine in May and was looking for teaching positions at Catholic schools when she found the opening at St. Edmond.

“I had my interview and it went well and when I was offered (the job), I decided to come here,” she said. “I just had a good feeling about it.”

She said she was also looking specifically for a middle school English position, so this was the perfect fit.

While Boutin may be new to St. Edmond and Fort Dodge, she is not new to teaching. She previously taught English as a second language in Taiwan for four years prior to graduate school.

Acree is optimistic about the 2021-2022 school year and her first year as principal.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Iowa Air National Guardsmen with the 133rd Test Squadron raised the flag for St. Edmond Catholic School's flag-raising ceremony on Monday morning.

“We’re just super excited to be here with our students and I look forward to meeting all of them,” she said. “I have a lot of names to learn. One of my goals is to learn all my students’ names.”

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
St. Edmond Catholic School middle school and high school students recite the pledge of allegiance during the flag-raising ceremony on the first day of school Monday morning.


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