SKS faculty, teachers, and staff fought hard to bring students back into the classroom for the 2020-21 school year, despite the challenges, uncertainties, and risks that the novel coronavirus pandemic brought with it. While the fight is not over yet, we have been able to reach the 100 days of school milestone and can actually celebrate that almost all of them have been in person. SKS’s courageous approach to reopening school in face of COVID-19 and its healthy partnership with families has not gone unnoticed. This, coupled with SKS being awarded theNational Blue Ribbon School of Excellence award, has created perfect conditions for a surge in admissions inquiries.

At the end of July 2020, when local public schools announced that they would not be offering full-time, in-person classes for the start of the 2020-21academic year, SKS began to experience a high volume of calls from parents wanting to enroll children who had been attending these schools.Our classrooms soon filled to maximum capacity within CDC guidelines.

Calls and emails have continued to flood the front office; however, parents are now seeking enrollment for the 2021-22 academic year. In one instance, the inquiries averaged between nine to fourteen calls or emails about kindergarten and some lower school grades over the course of two days. Since the first week of February, all grades, kindergarten through seventh, have waitlists for the 2021-22 school year. As a result of this increase in enrollment, SKS will continue to offer a third kindergarten class next year. There has been at least a 50% increase in inquiries about the2021-22 school year, well over the amount of interested applicants in the last few years. Interestingly, some of these inquiries have been about the2022-23 school year, though registration for that year will open onNovember 1, 2021. In a year where the word “surge” has become synonymous with restrictions and lockdowns, it is a relief to see a surge in a context that should make SKS proud – a surge in enrollment inquiries!

In the last issue of The Spirit, we welcomed the forty-three new families that joined SKS this year and heard from two of them about their experience asnew families. What follows is more insight on the new family experience atSKS. There’s a common theme to these interviews: families are happy withtheir decision because their kids are thriving in school!

The McLaughlin Family – Charlie (Kindergarten)

Why did you decide on SKS?
We knew SKS was the right choice for our family when we toured the school last fall.   There are many great schools in the area, but it was the strong, close-knit and faith-filled community of SKS, the warm and welcoming faculty and staff, and the happy and smiling students that really stood out to us to us that day.  It is also important for us that our child’s school environment is centered around the same Catholic faith and values that we were taught growing up and that we teach in our home, so that is what set SKS apart from the other great local schools for us.

How was the transition for your kindergartener?
I went right to our kindergartener for his feedback on this one!  He said that he loves his new school, and especially likes having his own desk, art and recess.  He said that it’s so much fun!  He did admit to being a little nervous to start a new school but hopped in the car at pickup on the first day, said “It was AMAZING!” and hasn’t looked back since!

What have you liked the most so far?
The people!  The SKS community has been so warm and welcoming!  Our teachers and new family mentor especially have really helped us navigate the transition to a new school and we are very appreciative of their guidance and support.

Has anything exceeded your expectations?
Going into this year, we expected to feel disconnected from school events, celebrations and day-to-day happenings due to the COVID restrictions and guidelines in place.  SKS has done a great job of sharing these events virtually with us, from the back-to-school welcome video and classroom tour, to the virtual back-to-school night, school masses, Wildcat videos, Halloween parade, etc.  It has been great sharing in the fun…even if only virtually for now!

– Karen McLaughlin

The Groseclose Family – Charlotte (Kindergarten) and Mark (Second Grade)

Why did you decide on SKS?
We decided on SKS, because we wanted our kids to attend a school with a smaller community that offered faith-based, quality education.  I attended Catholic School growing up and felt that my oldest was missing out on the religious traditions and close-knit, nurturing environment that a school like SKS offers.  When the pandemic happened, we realized that we wanted more alignment in our children’s educational experience with the values that we grew up with and practice at home.

How was the transition for your second grader to a new elementary school?
Our son hit the ground running and loves everything about SKS (so does our daughter).  His classmates have been incredibly welcoming, and he says that “everyone is so nice!”  Mrs. Fitzpatrick has done a great job of making his transition to a new school virtually seamless.

What have you liked the most so far?
There are so many things that we have liked about SKS!  We are very grateful for responsive communications from Mr. Tosti, Mrs. Condello, Mrs. Manion, and our children’s teachers.  Virtual school days have been nice in a way, because they have allowed us to witness how much inspiration, enthusiasm, patience, and care SKS teachers put into their daily lessons.  It has been very impressive to watch!

Has anything exceeded your expectations?
It has been great to see how well faculty and students have acclimated to wearing masks and social distancing, how much fun our kids are still having at school, and how much they are learning.  We are also very grateful to have been able to experience in-person school for as long as we have!  Thank you to SKS for making this possible!

– Audrey Groseclose


During the second grade’s sacrament of Reconciliation parent information session, Sister Mary Elizabeth Karalis, Director of Religious Education, quoting a friend to explain the pandemic protocols for the sacrament this year, remarked, “Catholics always make the best of a situation.” Although the pandemic has offered us many bitter lemons, Sister Mary Elizabeth’s words encapsulate how, as a school and community, SKS has figured out how to move forward, take advantage of new opportunities, and make lemonade.

In preparation for the 2020-21 school year, SKS invested in document cameras and added new online resources and websites to its educational toolkit across all grade levels:

Document Cameras

Teachers are utilizing document cameras both in the classroom and for virtual school to reproduce book pages or any document. Students can more clearly see any object or text a teacher chooses to share while maintaining distances in the classroom, and they also help cut down on paper usage. Not only are they helpful in the classroom, but also document cameras have proven to be a great solution when learning on Google Meet for virtual sessions.


SKS introduced Seesaw to its educational toolkit for the lower grades. Seesaw is an online learning journal that gives parents a personalized window into their child’s schoolwork. It was created by Shadow Puppet, the creators of the award winning app, Shadow Puppet Edu. Developed in collaboration with teachers across the country, Seesaw empowers students to capture what they are learning at school with photos, videos, and their voice.They can create amazing things using this app on their iPads and the end results are accessible to both parents and educators.


SKS is using IXL as a reinforcement tool in math andEnglish. IXL is the world’s most popular subscription-based learning site for K-12, providing personalized learning with interactive questions that can pinpoint diagnostic levels in about sixty questions, as well as awards and certificates to keep kids motivated.

Google Meet

SKS is utilizing Google Meet as its secure videoconferencing platform for virtual school. Google Meet allows a student to log into a classroom from home if the student or a family member has compromising health concerns or has been diagnosed with or exposed toCOVID-19. Another advantage of Google Meet is that it permits SKS teachers and faculty to pivot to virtual school in the event of inclement winter weather, avoiding additional, unscheduled snow days that would have to be added to the end of the school year.

1:1 Devices

SKS received 110 Chromebook tablets that were purchased earlier this school year for the primary grades to use.These additional tablets will help immensely with the goal of being a one-to-one school – one device for every student – and will facilitate the continued integration of technology into academics at SKS.

SKS teachers have also discovered other online resources to enrich their classrooms. The sixth grade is using Braining camp, a digital math manipulatives tool, to review fraction operations and learn about negative numbers. The sixth grade is also using Science WorldMagazine to read interesting articles and discover new things. Mrs. Grimley’s class recently read “TheSurprising Origin of Toys” and learned how several popular toys were invented. Students then had the option to research the origin of their favorite toy or design a new one of their own and present to the class.Mrs. Grimley is using a website called I Am A Scientist to display various scientists on a bulletin board. Her sixth grade class will then choose one scientist per month to learn more about and how each became a scientist.

New opportunities, however, extend far beyond the classroom and many of them can be experienced at home. We have more time as a result of canceled social activities and entertainment, little-to-no work commutes,travel and health restrictions, and quarantine requirements. Families have spent a lot more time together, and kids have had extra time to play outside,use their imaginations, and develop new skills. “I like being able to spend more time with my family playing board games,” noted fifth grader Drew Hayes. In some cases, the pandemic has actually given families the ability to see loved ones even more than they otherwise would given the rise of video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Google Meet. Third grader Nathan DJamoos explained, “Due to the pandemic, I actually ended up seeing my family and cousins who live across the country more! We have a Zoom call every Saturday night.”

Fewer extracurricular activities mean more time for kids to play and discover new ways to entertain themselves. Kindergartener Natalie DJamoos described her experience: “We put up a ninja course in the backyard that all of the neighborhood kids have been able to enjoy. There is a creek in our yard and we can put on old boots and walk down the creek and explore. We had movie nights on our neighbor’s front lawn. No one is running off to camp or practices. This winter we have spent the majority of our time sledding!” Kids have also gotten creative about virtual ways to interact with friends online. Eighth grader Connor Hayes noted, “My mom finally let me get Xbox Live so I can hang out with friends.”

Having extra free time has allowed students to learn new skills. Fifth grader Olivia DJamoos reflected, “I taught myself how to rollerblade, how to sew, and do magic. Now I can sew masks for all of my family, friends, and even my teachers!” Students have also used quality time with parents to become more proficient at hobbies.“My dad and I are getting really good at putting together 1000 piece puzzles. We’ve done five!” said second grader Maddie Hayes.

As the Monty Python song goes, “Always look on the bright side of life.” One of the many things that the pandemic has made clear is SKS’s indefatigable spirit and determination to make the best of the situation.


When the forty-six members of the SKS class of 2020 walked across the stage to receive their diplomas last June, they were stepping into a future not known to any prior class of SKS graduates. In this early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools remained closed, nationwide and globally, and we had little idea of when or how classrooms would reopen. After a summer of cautious optimism, the SKS graduates turned their attention to high school and the next phase of their education. While school scenarios varied, among the fourteen archdiocesan, private, and public schools where our graduates landed, each SKS alumnus faced the same familiar challenges that mark every transition to high school — increased independence and self-directed learning; more choice, coupled with more responsibility; and the demands of greater complexity and challenge in their studies.

Now, so many months later, we checked back in with our Class of ‘20 graduates and their families, to hear directly from them about their high school experiences. What we learned comes as no surprise — SKS set these students up for success, in all regards. SKS alumnus Stephen Finley reflected the importance of his SKS faith foundation: “My SKS education helped teach me the importance of staying connected to my Catholic faith and friendships while working hard everyday to do my best in all aspects of my life.” And Class of ‘20 parents Fran and Janna Forte highlighted that SKS provided “the academic, social and spiritual building blocks to flourish in a new and challenging high school environment.” Given the additional challenges of COVID, the SKS experience was yet more valuable to our alumni. As another parent reflected, “The friendships our son made at SKS have been a Godsend, especially as these kids started their high school careers during a pandemic. Our son’s SKS friends will always be a part of his life.”

The success and resilience of our young SKS alumni grow directly from the school’s mission commitment “to academic excellence through a rigorous learning environment that seeks to develop the whole child, integrating Catholic values of service and respect for all of God’s people.” And as the 24 graduates of the Class of ‘21 prepare to receive their diplomas and step into high school, they too will be standing on the firm foundation of their SKS experience.


My first memory of St. Katharine of Siena School (SKS) was when I arrived as a transfer student in third grade after moving to Wayne in 1999. The opening of school was delayed by a week or two because school renovations and the new gym/parish center were not quite finished. I was nervous to meet new friends and learn my way around a new school. So, my mother took me there one morning just to walk around and become familiar with the building. No doors were locked then, and we simply walked right in and upstairs to find my classroom. As I peeked into the room where my teacher was busy decorating the bulletin boards, she saw me and immediately said, “You must be Laura!” and gave me a big hug. At that moment, my fear was gone and I knew it would be OK. The kindness, empathy, and acceptance I felt then exemplify the family and community spirit that defined my happy years at SKS.

My favorite times at SKS were always the ones that brought families together. Pizza Bingo, Christmas Tableau, May Procession, and CYO sports all are great memories for me. Several of my SKS role models include my 4th grade teacher Mr. Heacock, my 6th grade teacher Mr. Gavin, and my 8th grade teacher Mr. Tosti. It is wonderful that they continue to impact the SKS community and have dedicated their careers to guiding young people as teachers, mentors, and supporters of Catholic education.

I graduated from Archbishop John Carroll High School in 2009. From there I attended James Madison University and received my Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2013. In 2016 I completed my Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology at Seton Hall University. I currently work as a pediatric speech-language pathologist for Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, treating children with a variety of communication and feeding difficulties. I knew from a young age that I wanted to pursue a career helping others. SKS played a big part in realizing that I wanted to live out that role in my career and life. Values such as respect, compassion, and kindness which were cultivated and nourished each day at SKS help me now to be a compassionate clinician. I aim to make an impact on the individuals I serve, just as my SKS teachers did for me. I hope today’s SKS students, especially the 8th graders, can reflect on the choice their parents made for them to attend SKS, especially as they prepare to make their own important choices in the future. Remembering my time at SKS always makes me smile and be grateful for the path in my life that began there many years ago.


Mrs. Sevag is a proud native of Delaware County. She attended St. Anastasia, Cardinal O’Hara, and Villanova University. Mrs. Sevag is married with two boys, Andrew and Nick, who attend SKS. The Sevags live in Berwyn with their dog Harry.

Some little known facts about Mrs. Sevag….

  • My spirit animal would be a penguin – people say I am classy and like to make people laugh!
  • I love to read and lean more to the thriller and horror novels by James Patterson and Stephen King, but To Kill a Mockingbird remains my all-time favorite.
  • My favorite saint is St. Anastasia who I prayed to since attending the school as a child. St. Sebastian is another favorite because he is the patron saint of athletes.
  • I played sports my entire life and always said a prayer before each game. Now with my boys, we play all sports all the time and I just love watching, playing and coaching.
  • A little known fact is I started out 15 years ago as the SKS gym teacher and loved every second of it!


Our SKS tradition of Catholic education and resilience was celebrated during Catholic Schools Week!