By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
---- — AuSABLE FORKS — Crowds gathered in AuSable Forks Monday to support a school that has provided Catholic education to the community for nearly a century.
At its annual Labor Day Celebration fundraiser, Holy Name School of St. Mathew’s Parish hosted a plethora of family activities to celebrate the unofficial last day of summer and the upcoming start of its 100th academic year.
The school, which serves residents of Black Brook, Jay and surrounding areas with its pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade programming, first opened its doors to students in September of 1913.
“This is the beginning of our 100th year of education at Holy Name School,” said the Rev. Kris Lauzon, pastor, at the Labor Day event.
“When we graduate the students in 2013, that’ll be our hundredth graduating class.”
Through the years, Lauzon said, Holy Name has striven to provide its students with a quality, Catholic-faith-centered education and instill in them the value of acting and treating others respectfully.
“A lot of it is the sense of the Catholic mentality towards education in the sense of what we are called to be as members of the body of Christ, as God’s children ... and the way we then treat one another,” he said.
While Holy Name does charge a minimal tuition to students who can afford it, only about 10 to 15 percent of the school’s operating budget is covered by tuition, according to Lauzon.
The Labor Day Celebration, which takes place on and around the school grounds and boasts hours worth of entertainment, helps to support Holy Name’s educational services.
“We rely a lot on fundraising, and this is really one of our biggest fundraisers for the school for the year, and it’s a great community builder too,” Lauzon said.
This year, the Most Rev. Terry LaValley, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg, was the grand marshall of the event’s opening parade through town.
“It was a great parade,” Lauzon said. “We had lots of floats this year.”
Other highlights of the celebration included the Ken Ducky Derby, in which participants raced rubber ducks down the Ausable River for a shot at a $500 prize; the second-annual Holy Name Car Show; live music; games; a beer tent; numerous carnival foods and a chicken barbecue.
Each year, the festivities attract people from all over, both Catholic and non-Catholic alike, said the Rev. Donald Kramberg, a former pastor of the parish who enjoys attending the event and catching up with old friends.
The activities are run by parishioners and community members, as well as graduates of the school, all of whom volunteer their time to help with the fundraiser.
“The whole community is very supportive,” Kramberg said.
“It’s always wonderful for the spirit of the community to have them work together on a common project.”
Emily Maicus and Emily Patenaude, both 15 and members of St. Matthew’s Parish, volunteered to run a game booth at the event.
“We like to help out,” said Maicus, who attended Holy Name from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.
“You get to see a lot of people.”
Last year, natural disaster threatened to cancel the celebration, when Tropical Storm Irene hit the area the Sunday before the event was scheduled, bringing devastating flooding.
But the committee that plans the celebration ultimately decided that the show must go on, as it’s such an important event to the school, parish and AuSable Forks communities.
“We got together on Monday night after the flood, and we said, ‘You know what, the people need this. If we don’t make any money on the thing, the people (still) need to get out and get away from the mud,’” Lauzon said.
Though there was no mud to get away from this year, Tamber McCabe and her 8-year-old son Zander McCabe, a student at Holy name School, found the games and opportunities to spend time with friends reasons enough to attend the event.
“It’s a really good school and a really good, fun day for the family and a good cause,” Tamber said.
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