‘God is definitely watching over us’

St. John XXIII Parish wraps up work on Port school expansion as it learns that $510,000 stolen in scam will be recovered or paid by insurance

TEACHERS, INCLUDING Sue Krier, are putting the finishing touches on their new classrooms at St. John XXIII School in Port Washington before the start of school on Tuesday, Sept. 3. The school consolidated its operations at the former St. Peter’s Campus this fall, where a new addition allowed it to close the historic St. Mary’s Campus. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

The expansion of St. John XXIII School in Port Washington is almost complete. Workers on Tuesday were scrambling to put the finishing touches on the interior in preparation for a walk-through on Thursday, Aug. 29, while teachers were organizing classrooms.

It’s been a long journey for the school and its staff, as well as the parish that supports it. In addition to the stress of closing one school and adding onto another, the parish suffered a blow this spring when it lost $510,000 in an email scam.

But that pall’s been lifted too, adding to the joy of moving into a new building. Parish officials said this week that between insurance coverage and funds recovered by federal agencies, the loss has been made up.

“God is definitely watching over us in all aspects,” School Principal Kristi Klein said. “We feel so grateful for this. Construction is complete. The things that aren’t completed will be things that won’t be noticed. 

“Welcoming our families on the first day of school will be fun. Everyone’s so excited.”

The first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 3, will begin with a grand opening celebration complete with a ribbon cutting at 8:40 a.m. An all-school Mass will follow.

At 1 p.m., a community picnic with food donated by Cousin’s Subs and a variety of family activities will be held to mark the end of the first day, Klein said.

“We’re looking to make new traditions here, and this will be one of them” she said. “It’s really going to be a day of teachers getting to know their kids but also a day to bring the community in.”

It’s been a long summer. After the last school year ended, teachers at the St. Mary’s Campus had to not just pack away their classroom supplies but completely pack their classrooms up for the move.

“It went quite smooth,” Klein said, although it took months to empty the building. 

Ground-breaking for the addition to St.Peter’s Campus took place in December, but the bulk of the work occurred this summer. It’s been the culmination of four years of planning, Klein said.

“The entire process has been amazing to watch,” she said. “To see the foundation put in place, the walls painted, the floors in and the cabinets hung and now the staff moving in ... It’s so exciting.”

Having the school staff in one place will be a blessing, she said.

“Our theme for the year is United As One in Faith. We are one, finally, and we are excited to be under one roof,” Klein said. “We’re stronger as one. To be able to see each other on a daily basis will be huge for collaboration and projects.”

They will also be next to the parish staff, which will help with joint faith formation efforts, she said.

The benefits of collaboration are equally as important for students as they are for staff, she said, noting that there are additional opportunities now for older pupils to act as role models for the younger students and for younger students to see what it means to be a leader.

“The things we can do now are going to be really cool,” Klein said.  

Not only does the school have new classrooms to accommodate the elementary school and child care, there are new offices and a dedicated innovation center for media work and a science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) lab.

“This is a big improvement for us,” Klein said. “We’ve never had a formal science area like this.”

The STEAM lab adjoins the media center, with glass doors separating the two. When needed, the doors can be opened to create a large classroom or they can be closed for two classes.

The art room has all the amenities, Klein said.

“It’s an actual art room,” she said. “Before, the students had to go into the hall and wash their hands in the janitor’s closet.”

Even the older classrooms have been freshened up with cosmetic upgrades, including new carpeting and paint, Klein said.

“Everyone has a new, fresh face,” she said.

Lockers for students as well as some mini-lockers for classroom storage line the hallways, where semi-circles in the school colors of blue and red add a colorful touch.

And now they’re busy unpacking in a new setting.

“It’s always fun organizing your space, but when you have a new space it’s really great,” Klein said. “The teachers feel so grateful to be a part of this.

Sue Krier, who teaches 4K classes, said she is enjoying the light in her new classroom. At St. Mary’s, her room was in the basement.

“I haven’t had windows for a long time,” she said. 

While there is still much work to be done before classes begin on Tuesday, Klein said, but one thing is certain.

“Everyone is smiling,” she said. 

A grand opening and blessing will be held at the school following the 10:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, Sept. 29. A picnic will follow.


Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login