Our Lady of Grace School to mark 60 years with dinner, auction

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For Our Lady of Grace School principal Sharon Loughran Brown, the more things change, the more they stay the same,  at least when it comes to teaching children at the elementary school in Scott.

''We keep up with trends in education while keeping our core values,'' she said.

At 6 p.m. March 29, the school will celebrate its 60th anniversary with its annual dinner auction at the Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh/Southpointe in Cecil.

The funds raised from the anniversary gala — themed ''As Time Goes By'' — will benefit the school, which has a total fundraising goal this year of $120,000.

''Celebrating the 60 Years'' will also be the title of the annual spirit show, a student musical production to be presented May 15.

Our Lady of Grace parish was established in 1947, with ground for a temporary church broken in 1949.

Five years later, a second floor was added to the building to serve as the first four grades of a school. Instruction was by the Sisters of the Holy Humility of Mary.

In 1956, an eight-room wing was added to the building. Six more classrooms were added in 1958. After a permanent church was dedicated in 1963, the old church facilities were converted to additional classrooms.

While the church and school share the same 16-acre site, the church has a 310 Kane Blvd. address, while the school is at 1734 Bower Hill Road.

Today, the school has about 270 students in preschool through eighth grade.

Diane Seybert, director of advancement, attended from kindergarten in 1969 through eighth grade.

''I was prepared so well to go to Mt. Lebanon High School, where I took honors classes,'' she said. "When I had my kids it was a no-brainer  they would go to Our Lady of Grace,'' the Scott woman said.

Mrs. Seybert said while the traditional values, family atmosphere, safe environment and strong sense of responsibility, faith, and work ethic have remained the same, the school's technology, after-school activities and curriculum have kept up with the times.

''In science class, we tested the pH of Chartiers Creek,'' she said. "My kids dissected frogs; they are doing robotics and extracting DNA from strawberries.''

There is a computer laboratory, interactive whiteboards in every classroom, regulation gymnasium with stage, and more.

Sports offerings are football, soccer, volleyball, cross-country, basketball, track and field.

Clubs include drama; world affairs; forensics; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Tuition is $3,450 for the first child. The annual cost to educate a child at Our Lady of Grace is $4,850.

Mrs. Brown said the biggest challenge is keeping the tuition affordable in light of increasing costs, which means closely watching expenditures.

Funding also comes from the diocese, parish and fundraising.

Students attend from school districts and communities such as Chartiers Valley, South Fayette, Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon, Fort Cherry, Carlynton, Peters and the City of Pittsburgh.

While students are primarily Catholic, there are non-Catholics who attend; all must attend Mass and religious instruction.

"Everyone appreciates the values we teach,'' Mrs. Brown said.

Auction tickets are $60, and must be purchased in advance. To do so, and for more information, or to register as an alumni for a fall reunion, visit: www.olgscott.net, or call 412-279-6611.

Margaret Smykla, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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