OWATONNA – Rewind to one year ago, and the students at St. May’s School in Owatonna spent an entire day cleaning up their community after a big storm that developed small tornados swept through the area and left behind ample destruction.
That day of service was St. Mary’s Marathon Day, an annual event that coincides with the Minnesota Marathon for Nonpublic Education. Though the word “marathon” is the descriptor for the event, the day has less to do with running and more to do with raising public awareness and funds for the school.
Participants in the Minnesota Marathon, which is in cooperation with the Minnesota Knights of Columbus, make a public demonstration of their support and belief in nonpublic education as they raise money for the school. School the participate will often for a run/walk/bike-a-thon or a work-a-thon that involves community service.
This is the 12th year that St. Mary’s has participated in the marathon.
Because the community service project of cleaning up after the storm in 2018 was such a success, the coordinators of this year’s marathon decided they wanted to once again make a difference in the community through acts of service. At 8 a.m. on Friday, the student body at St. Mary’s gathered outside for a group photo before dispersing to their various projects.
The preschoolers made banners for the local firefighters, law enforcement, and Post Office as well as cleaned up around the school. The kindergarten readiness class, kindergartners, and first graders delivered the banners along with treat bags to the Fire Department, Law Enforcement Center, and Post Office. Treats were also delivered to businesses downtown.
The second grade class visited with residents at Koda Assisted Living Community while the third grade class cleaned around the Steele County Fairgrounds. The fourth and fifth grade classrooms picked up trash in Manthy, Morehouse, and Brown Parks while the sixth and seventh grade classes did the same in Dartts, Mineral Springs, and JC Parks.
The eighth grade students took part in the storm sewer stenciling program around St. Mary’s School and in the downtown area. With that program, the students used paint and stencils to mark storm drains with messages that ask the public not to dump waste material into the drains. Unlike household water systems, storm sewers flow directly into local waterways, depositing whatever they pick up along the way – pesticides, motor oil, fertilizer, pet waste – directly into the nearest lake or river, unfiltered and untreated.
St. Mary’s participates in fundraisers such as the Marathon to help keep their tuition more affordable. According to the school, the cost to educate a K-8 student is $7,083.56 – far more than the cost of a St. Mary’s tuition. This year, the school’s marathon goal was to raise $30,000, with 100% of the money going towards St. Mary’s programs and offerings. Students K-8 were asked to raise $180 each in donations while preschoolers were encouraged to raise $50 apiece. On Wednesday, Oct. 2, St. Mary’s was excited to announce that they had successfully reached their goal – surpassing the $30,000 mark by $18,574.10
The extra money goes towards the Challenge Grant Goal of $25,000. Once that goal is met, St. Mary’s School will earn an additional $25,000 from the Richard M. Schulze Foundation.