Unity – Truth – Love

The day at Our Lady of Grace Catholic School usually begins with students assembled for prayer in front of the “Oasis of Peace,” a mural on the outside of the school building picturing happy children amidst a green landscape crowned by a rainbow. The space includes the “peace bench” where students can sit and talk or retreat for a quiet time.  To Principal Susan Anderson, the Oasis of Peace sums up, in concrete form, the school’s core values: “Unity-Truth-Love.”

OLG School, guided by the curriculum standards of Oakland Diocese and State of California, utilizes the latest technological tools. Schoolwork also includes the tactile, from hand written essays to art projects. The after-school program features CYO athletics, Chess and Homework clubs, and a weekly music and band program. Parents are actively involved in parish and community events, including OLG’s annual Fall Festival and Auction, Fox River Socks for Soldiers, and CV Outreach for Christmas. 

But it is in creating a positive, inclusive, and supportive learning environment that the school lives out its core values. “Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘Be the change you want in the world,’” says Principal Anderson. “Every day our student body comes together to grow spiritually, socially, and academically. To be a lifelong learner requires focusing consistently on the tasks at hand and doing that in the way Jesus modeled for us.”  

Educating the whole child—intellectually, morally, spiritually—has been the school’s mission over the course of its sixty-plus years—from a teaching staff composed entirely of nuns to lay professionals; from blackboards and chalk to computers and iPads. It is something of a miracle that these values have weathered the vagaries of time. But, upon reflection, it is an affirmation of the timelessness of the school’s core values. At OLG School, students are participants in affirming—and putting into action—the core values of Unity-Truth-Love.

The school as an institution has been tested, from larger economic downturns to a crisis that almost forced the school’s closure. But, as this history reveals, faith and perseverance has led the way. Like the planted seed, this is a story of how to nurture an institution through ever-changing seasons so that it blossoms and grows.

 “Beautiful indeed and of great importance is the vocation of all those who aid parents in fulfilling their duties and who, as representatives of the human community, undertake the task of education in schools.”

Declaration on Christian Education: Gravissimum Educationis, October 28, 1965.

On October 28, 1958, Cardinal Angelo Roncalli emerged from the conclave of Cardinals as new pope. Roncalli was in his late seventies when he took the name John and began what many assumed would be a “caretaker” papacy. But in January of 1959, Pope John Paul XXIII shocked the world with his call for the Second Vatican Council, the first major Vatican colloquium in nearly a century. His goal was aggiornamento, an updating of the church—he likened it to throwing open a window to let in fresh air. The future saint would not live to see the Council to its conclusion, but the caretaker pope changed the church and the world. The Council, with four sessions held in Rome from 1962 to 1965, is known for such landmark documents as Nostra Aetate (“In Our Time”), which reversed centuries of anti-Semitism, declaring “as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion.”

 The Council also produced the Declaration on Christian Education: Gravissimum Educationis, proclaimed by His Holiness Pope Paul VI, on October 28, 1965. The document declared education a “universal right” and the means to be “in harmony…with other peoples in the fostering of true unity and peace on earth. For a true education aims at the formation of the human person in the pursuit of his ultimate end and of the good of the societies of which, as man, he is a member, and in whose obligations, as an adult, he will share. Therefore children and young people must be helped, with the aid of the latest advances in psychology and the art and science of teaching, to develop harmoniously their physical, moral and intellectual endowments.…”  

Gravissimum Educationis declared Catholic schools vital in developing “intellectual faculties” and preparation for professional careers “but also to form the ability to judge rightly, to hand on the cultural legacy of previous generations, to foster a sense of values.…” This meant students of different backgrounds and abilities joining together in a “spirit of mutual understanding…whose work and progress must be shared together by families, teachers, associations of various types that foster cultural, civic, and religious life, as well as by civil society and the entire human community.” [Note: Declaration on Christian Education: Gravissimum Educationis, October 28, 1965, Section 1: The meaning of the Universal Right to an Education,” and  “5: The Importance of Schools.]    

At the conclusion of the historic Vatican colloquium, Our Lady of Grace Parish was into its ninth year of providing Catholic school education. Like the church itself, the decades ahead would see the parish school grow and evolve. Guiding OLG’s educational process was the mission of developing the whole person, academically prepared, grounded in the faith, and guided by moral bearings to be positive contributors to the world. 


San Francisco Archbishop John Joseph Mitty officially created Our Lady of Grace Parish, in the unincorporated San Francisco East Bay town of Castro Valley, on September 19, 1947, with Rev. Joseph Donworth as pastor. It was a prescient move, given the postwar boom that transformed a rural valley of chicken ranches and apricot orchards into a thriving residential community. While an effort was underway to secure a permanent site, Sunday Mass was first offered in a temporary hall on Baker Road on September 28. [Note: Peter Thomas Conmy, A Parochial and institutional History of the Diocese of Oakland: 1962-1972 and two centuries of background (Mission Hills, California: Saint Francis Historical Society, 2000), p. 443.] 

On December 17, 1947, the new parish ceremonially broke ground on three and a half acres on Anita Avenue off Williams Street (to be renamed Somerset Avenue). The Oakland Tribune reported the church groundbreaking was part of “a long-range program that includes construction of a parochial school….”  The $60,000 Spanish style church hall and parish house was envisioned for completion, appropriately, by Easter and the first Mass at the new church was celebrated on Easter Sunday. 

The church building, recalled as “a small farmland structure,” served a congregation of about 200 families. In 1951, Father Patrick J. Stack was “given the mission of putting Castro Valley together.” Stack was from Limerick, Ireland, and shortly after being ordained in Switzerland in 1928, was sent to San Francisco to be assistant pastor at St. Edwards Church and Sacred Heart Church, before moving to All Saints Church in Hayward, and serving as pastor at St. Joachim. Given limited or non-existent facilities at the Castro Valley parish, Pastor Stack had to conduct catechism classes in parishioner’s homes. [Note: “Castro Valley Church Sets groundbreaking Ceremony Sunday…,” Oakland Tribune, December 17, 1947, Hayward Area Historical Society, Research & Archives (HAHS).]   

The school construction faced frustrating delays. The local Daily Review headline on September 24, 1953, reported: “No Progress on Plans for C.V. Catholic Church.” The problem was an open creek and drainage issues at the 19540 Anita Avenue site had “bogged down” with the Alameda County Planning Commission. The parish, pleading lack of funds, asked the Commission to waive requirements and allow a partial covered drainage ditch and a concrete lined open channel that would be covered at a later date. 

Only five days later, the Review headline read, “Prospects Brighten.” The planning commission when “informed that the sponsors were willing to grant an easement to the flood control district approved the application.” The matter would go to the board of supervisors and, when approved, construction could begin. “The flood control district will have supervision of the open drainage channel which will be bordered by a six-foot high chain link fence for safety to school children,” the Review noted.  [Note: “No Progress on Plans for C.V. Catholic Church,” Daily Review, September 24, 1953, HAHS; “Prospects Brighten for New CV Church,” Daily Review, September 29, 1953, HAHS.]

The $275,000 two-story school building and a  convent at 19883 San Miguel rose together, each integral to the other. A priest newly returned to the Bay Area from Japan had worked with the Carmelite Sisters of Charity, and told Father Stack of the Order’s enviable reputation and work in schools, hospitals, and orphanages throughout Europe, Asia, and South America. On March 16, 1955, months ahead of the OLG school opening, a contingent of eight Carmelite Sisters and one Mother Superior were on their way from Madrid to staff the new school. In an era when ocean liners regularly carried travelers between Europe and America, it was newsworthy that nine nuns were traveling by air.

The Sisters Arrive 

It was dawn when the plane landed at San Francisco International Airport and Mother Superior Maria Delores Blasco disembarked with her charges—Sisters Angeles Serra, Manuela Vencesla, Engracia Fernandez, Josefina Ordiain, Marie-Rosa Lopategin, Maria-Lonzina  Olarte, Francisca Mota, and, “still a student,” Gloria Zamore. The group showed “little of the weariness exhibited by even the most experienced globe trotters after a 6000 mile flight…,” observed Daily Review reporter Don Carter, who followed the sisters through their first day in America. 

“Everyone in America has been so kind to us,” Mother Superior Blasco reflected later that day. “The airline people would not even let us carry our hand baggage. It’s wonderful!”

The convent on San Miguel was completed and OLG parishioners had worked hard to prepare it for their arrival. The sisters were not prepared for the luxury of rugs and soft beds—“In Spain, where we were also teaching at a school, the cells were not like this,” Mother Superior told Don Carter. They had a lot to do before school opened that fall, including collecting books for the school library and meeting parishioners. They also planned to “brush up on their English,” Carter reported. There would be more Carmelite Sisters to come as the school ramped up.  [Note: Don Carter, “Nine Carmelites Arrive To Teach In Castro Valley,” Daily Review, March 17, 1955, HAHS.]     

The parish school opened in September of 1955 with 250 students at the elementary school, including 100 first graders, and 50 students each for second, third, and fourth grades. Four classrooms, representing grades five through eight, were vacant—a new class would be opened each year until, after four years, the school had its full complement of eight grades. Father Stack told the local paper that transfers of individual students, or complete classes, from public to a parochial school beyond grade four was not advisable: “The change is too marked.” In the meantime, openings in the first four grades would be filled from a waiting list. 

The school administration was led by “teaching principal,” Mother Superior Dolores, assisted by Sister Josefina, Sister Francesca, Sister Angeles, and Sister Maria Rose, with lay teachers Genevieve Kavanaugh and Gertrude Keller. The school day, which began at 8:45 a.m. and ended at 3:05 p.m., followed the normal elementary school curriculum set by California’s Department of Education, while Father Stack hoped to add special courses, notably Spanish language classes. [Note: “New Parochial School Opens in Castro Valley,” Daily Review, September 13, 1955, HAHS.]  

The school’s early years, led by the pastor from Ireland and the sisters from Madrid, had little of the inclusiveness and transparency that would characterize the school in the near future. Parishioner Bettylu Vaz recalls that when she sent some of her children to OLG school “there was no communication at all with the parents. We got a little bill for the monthly fee, but that was the entirety of our connection.”

But there was positive growth. OLG and other parishes had previously been part of the San Francisco diocese, but were now included in the Oakland diocese that was formed in 1962 and encompassed parishes in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties (and included Transfiguration, a new parish on the eastern side of Castro Valley). Continued growth at OLG included construction of a large hall in 1968 to meet youth religious education needs—it would later be named Stack Center, in honor of the parish’s pioneering pastor (whose canny eye for real estate facilitated the parish’s growth).

An era ended when Father Patrick Stack retired in 1972 (the following year he was appointed to the honorary rank of monsignor upon recommendation of Oakland Bishop Floyd Begin). Rev. Stack had been pastor for 21 years, and had fulfilled “the mission of putting Castro Valley together.” When he passed away in 1984, a parish of 200 families had grown to about 2,500 families.

Father Keene became pastor, Sister Mercedes was appointed principal, and a school board was established.

And so Our Lady of Grace Catholic School began.

During the school year, the principal writes a little article that is printed in the Parish Bulletin the first Sunday of each month. It tells about some of the things that have been happening during that month. They are little time capsules.

April 5, 2020 marks the beginning of OLG School’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The school did not miss a beat immediately going to distance learning and a full teaching schedule thanks to the our Principal, Teachers and Staff. The recording of the Principal’s messages here marked the realization that a great deal of our history is reported in these little bulletin messages.

And with the June 11, 2023 entry, we close the recordings of the Principal’s Message, having started them with Principal Susan Anderson and recording the onset of COVID-19. They are a window into a tumultuous time of changes to teaching, schedules, and lives in general. The effects due to Diocese changes are also reflected in messages from an Interim Principal, Kathy Gannon-Briggs, leading to the first year of Principal Gena McGowan as we march back into normalcy.

Dear friends of Our Lady of Grace School,

It seems amazing that we are finishing off a school year! It has been one filled with ups and downs, but I am pleased to report that we sent off our 22 eighth grade graduates to several area High Schools including Bishop O’Dowd, Moreau and St. Joseph in Alameda along with Castro Valley High among others.

We also promoted 23 Kindergartners the majority of whom will be joining Miss Castaign for their first year in the “big building”. Our “Star scores” were outstanding and the fact that we differentiate our instruction to include a variety of learning styles is a source of personal pride.

Due to staffing issues which forced me into the 5th grade classroom for a great part of this past year, we are not as far as I had hoped in our transition to a dual-language immersion model. However, with God’s help, we shall continue to press forward. We have been told by families that all of the currently enrolled transitional Kinder students (age four) have come to OLG precisely because we offer instruction in both English and Spanish. I know that we are competing with Castro Valley public schools who are also adopting this model, but it is my hope that our smaller classes along with our additional focus on religion as well as math in two languages will prove to be an incentive.

Lastly, to continue promoting kindness and harmony, our school is adopting a model of student peer mediation that has proven to be a success in the United States and in many other countries. The entire faculty and staff were trained in this model of “Community Based mediation” on June fifth and the plan is to train student leaders the first week of August so that the program is ready to roll a few weeks after school begins.

In closing, I give thanks to God for a successful first year. I continue to enjoin you to spread the word about Castro Valley’s only Catholic School and please pray for our students, faculty, and staff as we begin a month-long summer program and then move on to our summer break.

In Our Lady’s Name and Love,

Gena McGowan, Principal
Our Lady of Grace Catholic School

Happy beginning of the last month of school! Here at Our Lady of Grace Catholic School we are doing many things to brighten the Easter season.

First, we are celebrating a new playground structure to be blessed and dedicated after Mass on May 3. We are proud that it was paid in its entirety through the fundraising efforts of the school scholars. The cost of just under $40,000 was the result of a combination of Fun Run and some donations.

Second, we are celebrating this year’s successful Fun Run. The net profit was also close to $40,000 and will result in new technology for all Junior High as well as some “smart boards” and other technological advances in our classrooms. I shall keep you posted.

Third, we are really focusing on increasing our school enrollment. Thanks to the pastor of Transfiguration, we shall begin to aggressively advertise there as well as place a sign on Castro Valley Boulevard in order to raise awareness in the larger community. Anything that you can do as individual parishioners is also much appreciated.

I look forward to seeing many of you at our Havana Night school and parish dinner-auction on May 6th . It should be a night to remember!

In Our Lady’s Name and Love,

Dr. McGowan

Dear friends of Our Lady of Grace School,

Blessed remains of Lent to all of you. I write in full anticipation of Easter joy, and sincerely hope that your Triduum observances are filled with much peace and celebration. May the risen Christ bring you much happiness.

Here at OLG school our Lent has been marked with weekly celebrations of The Stations of the Cross, with different grades taking a turn at bringing our thoughts and prayers into sharing the Passion and Death of Our Lord. It was also punctuated by Adoration and Benediction as well as individual celebrations of the Sacrament of Reconciliation for Grades three and above. We keep our second graders in our prayers as they near the time when they will receive Our Lord for the First time in May.

This focus on the richness of our faith is the principal reason that all Catholic (as well as non- Catholic) parents should consider a Catholic education for their sons and daughters. I ask that you assist me in spreading the word that we have open seats to fill and that deadlines for financial aid are coming closer.

Lastly, I hope to see many of you at our school-sponsored Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday following the 9:00 a.m. Mass. We shall have plenty of treat-filled eggs for kids in second grade and below as well as lots of opportunities for photos.

Until then, continue having a prayerful Lent and Holy Week ahead.

In Our Lady’s Name and Love

Gena McGowan, Principal
Our Lady of Grace Catholic School

Dear Friends of Our Lady of Grace Catholic School,

Happy Lent

It does seem like this season is upon us faster and faster every year! As always, this is a very busy and yet prayerful time of year at Our Lady of Grace as we pause, take the pulse of our spirituality and hopefully give generously in order to reach Easter renewed and strengthened in faith.

We are very focused on the three pillars that hold up our Lenten observance.

At OLG prayer is part and parcel of what we do daily. On Ash Wednesday we were marked with ashes to remind us that we need to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. This will also be a reminder at every Wednesday liturgy at 8:15 a.m. In addition to prayer at morning assembly, we shall be praying the Stations of the Cross every Friday at 2:15 p.m. in the church. All are welcome to join us.

Fasting will be observed in the context of “giving up”. We have had a rash of unkindness from a limited number of students, and it is time for ALL of us to sit up and practice living out the Golden Rule. Lent is an ideal time for this.

Almsgiving will hopefully be observed at home as we focus on the fabulous opportunities provided by Catholic Relief Services in the form of the Rice Bowl program. Please make sure that your scholar’s Rice Bowl is in a place of prominence because they will be hearing a great deal about C.RS.’s work as part of our Lenten religious instruction.

Lastly, this is the time to encourage all that you meet to come check out our rigorous academic curriculum and our faith-filled instruction. We have openings in every classroom and details on applying and registering can be found on our website, www.olgschool.org. I am counting on all of you to spread the word about this treasure right here in Castro Valley.

In Our Lady’s Name and Love,

Gena McGowan, Principal
Our Lady of Grace Catholic School

Dear Friends of Our Lady of Grace Catholic School,

Happy Catholic Schools Week!

Let us give thanks to God that we live in a country where school choice is a reality. Parents who wish to make God the center of their and their children’s lives will find in our environment a deep respect for God’s gifts of life from conception to natural death, as well as the daily reminder to love one another as Jesus loved us.

As I type I can hear the many visitors to our Open House for this Catholic Schools Week which will be followed by a week of fun and celebration. I invite you to visit our website www.olgschool.org for more information. Our Open House follows a filled-to-capacity 9:00 a.m. Mass, where the pastor reminded us of the importance of the school’s role in preserving the Catholic faith, even if at times we participants feel a bit like the “leima” (Romanized version of the Hebrew word for “remnant”), struggling to preserve what is left of the traditions of our faith.

Our school’s survival depends on the support and encouragement of our families and friends, those who believe, like we all do, in the power of a Catholic education, one based on the teachings of our Church as well as a strong emphasis on academics. Our Star test scores say it all. Most of our students score well above the state average in both language arts and math, and I know that it is due to the amount of attention and love that our teachers shower on their students. I am counting on all of you to spread the word about this treasure right here in Castro Valley

In Our Lady’s Name and Love,

Gena McGowan, Principal
Our Lady of Grace Catholic School

Dear Friends of Our Lady of Grace Catholic School,

I pray that you are enjoying a prayerful Advent that includes “slowing down” in anticipation of the great celebration of Jesus’ birth over 2000 years ago in Bethlehem.

Here at school, we finished our first trimester recognizing student success with a significant percentage of Junior High Students joining the Honor Roll. We welcomed two new T-K’rs and two returners. That means that our enrollment, while still down, is beginning to inch upwards. Spread the word about our solid academics and strong adherence to the basics of our Catholic faith.

Our Advent celebrations have included our pageant, “Around the Jesse Tree,” celebrating our mothers and fathers in faith, the Jewish people and the signs and symbols of the Old Testament. A visit by the San Francisco Opera, celebrations honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Immaculate Conception served to honor Our Blessed Mother whom we honor daily as Our Lady of Grace.

Lastly, we anticipate a long-awaited two-week break beginning December 16 at Noon as well as returning to school on January 3 for Epiphany and the end of Christmas Candlemas celebrations. It is good to be Catholic!

May 2023 bring you and yours many blessings and please, spread the word that we are here and open for learning!

In Our Lady’s Name and Love,

Gena McGowan, Principal
Our Lady of Grace Catholic School

Dear Friends of OLG

Happy anticipated Thanksgiving! At school we are celebrating the completion of our first
trimester and the fact that we are finally fully staffed! Fifth Grade teacher, Lila Sterling, is slowly recovering from a broken foot, but she can teach from a seated position and for that we are most grateful.

Our TK program has grown by two and our Kindergarten by one new student so we are hopeful
that we shall be filling more seats as the year progresses. Our strong academic curriculum
coupled with the clear teaching of our Church makes an ideal environment for young folk and
we are happy to welcome newcomers.

I would like to invite one and all to join us on December 3 for our Advent Celebration “Gather
around the Jesse Tree” followed by the lighting of our school Christmas tree in the school
courtyard and cookies and hot chocolate in Stack. I am also happy to announce that we are
introducing Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with Exposition following the 8:15 school Mass on the second Wednesday of the month. The students will come for adoration throughout the morning and the entire school will gather for Benediction at 12:15 p.m.
In closing, I wish you a blessed and peaceful holiday season.

Gena McGowan, Principal
Our Lady of Grace Catholic School

Dear OLG families and friends,

I always like to begin my communications expressing gratitude for all the blessings in my life, including the opportunity to enjoy it with this wonderful community. God is good!

By the time that you read this we shall be nearing the end of the third school trimester. It just does not seem possible that we have accomplished so much in a few short weeks! Soon we shall begin our second round of “Star testing” (the standardized exam that our students take several times a year to gage progress) as well as begin the mad rush to Thanksgiving, Advent and of course, Christmas

In “staff news,” I am cautiously welcoming a full-time teacher for grade five. Ms. Sterling began her tenure with us on Monday the 16 th , but at 1:00 p.m. fell as she crossed a threshold and had to be rushed to the E.R. She is back with us after a week of rest, and hopefully will continue to recover. The 5 th grade has relocated to the Augustine Center until she is well enough to go up the stairs. I shall resume the role of 5 th grade religion teacher, thereby freeing Mrs. Barrera to serve as I.A. primarily to Mrs. Moradi. Mr. Stone will carry on as the 5 th grade Math teacher, making it possible for Ms. Sterling to relieve Ms. Dawson of one Social Studies section.

Since I last updated the parish on school happenings, our community has gone through a great deal. On the positive side, our first “Family Fun Day” was a huge success, and it was wonderful to see the community out on a Sunday afternoon, having a great time. More than one person congratulated the Jr. High students for their presence at the 75 th anniversary socials as well as the singing by all our school groups. A good time was had by all. The Parent Teacher Organization has also resurfaced under the able leadership of Mrs. Jill Peters, President. They will be coordinating the school’s fundraising and marketing efforts and we are blessed to have them working so very hard.

Parent teacher conferences went off without a hitch and again, Mrs. Peters and her able group of school moms were very generous in their hospitable outreach, making sure that teachers were fed and comfortable during conferences.

On a sad note, our school community said a collective farewell to 7 th grader Max’s mom, Sherryl Cofreros. Thanks to the generosity of Bishop O’Dowd High School, the 7 th graders were able to ride a school bus to the funeral in Daily City. Brother Chris and I were honored to be their escorts and I know that the family was very grateful for the presence of the young people.

This Friday half the school will be exploring larger horizons. The second and third graders are going to Tilden Park as part of their science curriculum.

The Fourth and Fifth graders will be traveling by BART to the Paramount theater in Oakland for a Dia de los Muertos celebration, presented by the Oakland Ballet. This will be followed by a guided tour of the Oakland Cathedral and a picnic in a nearby park.

I look forward to continuing to keep all of you informed of the happenings at our little school.

In closing, remember that if you are looking for a demanding academic curriculum, solidly rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and under the patronage of Our Blessed Mother, as well as the spirituality of SS. Francis and Clare, then look no farther than your own parish school.

Thanks in advance for all that you do to support our school in the community.

In Our Lady’s Name and Love,

Gena McGowan, Principal
Our Lady of Grace Catholic School

Dear OLG families and friends,

Fall is in the air, and I give thanks for the lovely Bay Area weather and the opportunity to enjoy it with this wonderful community. God is good!

By the time that you read this we shall be in our sixth week of instruction. Our students are busy in their classrooms, most well into their second or third curricular units and it is fun to walk the hallways and see the results of their labors.

In “staff news,” welcome a young alumna to act as an instructional aid to Mrs. Moradi and Mr. Manifesto, Miss Laura Perino. She is currently taking a “gap” year before hopefully beginning her studies in the U.K. next fall. We are happy to have her with us. Her mom, Mrs. Adriana Perino will be joining the Kid Kare staff to continue to ensure that the students are safe and happy.

Many of you know of the real crisis that most schools are facing when it comes to finding certified teachers. OLG is extremely fortunate to count some very professional folk among its ranks but unfortunately, we have been unable to fill the 5th grade teacher slot. I am very happy to be filling in the gaps as we have not had any qualified applicants since the position posted in August. I hasten to add that could not do it without Mr. Stone, who has taken over 5th grade math, and Mrs. Barrera, who is very qualified to teach Religion. Meanwhile, if you know any qualified individuals who might be interested in joining our staff on a part time basis to teach a couple of subjects, please direct them my way.

It is not a secret that our school has experienced a slight decrease in enrolment. I need to reach out to you, the parishioners of Our Lady of Grace, to partner with us to spread the word about our fabulous programs and teachers. We are not the only school that has experienced reductions in enrollment due to families moving away in search of more affordable housing. In this post-Covid universe, many people no longer must go into an office daily and I have personally spoken to several families who have moved away from this area for precisely that reason. However, I see lots of children at Safeway, so that I know that with proper promotion, we shall once again fill our classrooms.

I am particularly interested in filling the open slots in our TK program. Mrs. Fajardo is making big strides in teaching our little ones how to speak Spanish. I met with the district official in charge of our Federal Title programs last week and he told me that Castro Valley’s TK dual language (English-Spanish) program is a huge hit.

There is no reason, other than lack of exposure, that O.L.G’s program should not be experiencing the same success. In addition to offering a solid education, Our Lady of Grace can proudly boast of a highly qualified staff as well as a solid basis in Catholic TRUTH. The fact is that loyalty to the Magisterium is a given for anyone teaching at our school, and I cannot think of a better place for a child to grow than surrounded by folk who live their lives grounded in every article of the Nicene Creed.

So, if you are looking for a demanding academic curriculum, solidly rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and under the patronage of Our Blessed Mother, as well as the spirituality of SS. Francis and Clare, then look no farther than your own parish school.

Thanks in advance for all that you do to support our school in the community.

In Our Lady’s Name and Love,

Gena McGowan, Principal
Our Lady of Grace Catholic School

Dear Our Lady of Grace Family,

I am writing to report that your parish Catholic school is up and running! It is good to see all the students back on campus, as well as to welcome many new colleagues to O.L.G. God’s grace could be felt all around, and Our Blessed Mother’s gentle smile was almost discernable!

I would like to extend a very special invitation to all parish members to join the school community at our weekly Eucharistic liturgy. It takes place on Wednesdays at 8:15 a.m. and features the students in the roles of lectors and servers, and faculty and staff serve as Eucharistic ministers. I know that we would all love to see parish members become more involved in the activities of the school and Mass is a great place to start.

I also wanted you to know that we are still looking for a part time classroom aide for our lower elementary grades. If you are a retired teacher or a person who loves being around children and helping out our busy teachers, please give me at call at the school office (510.581.3155).

Please save the date for our very first all school celebrations. They will take place on the weekend of September17 with a Mass celebrated at 5:00 p.m. by Bishop Barber. Our former pastor, Fr. Tom will join Father Ray in welcoming our bishop to this important celebration of the 75th anniversary of the parish and school.

On Sunday, September 25, our families are encouraged to attend the 9:00 a.m. Mass and then come onto the grounds for a celebration of our school and parish family. Food, games, and various student performances will be among the highlights of this important day. Let’s continue to spread the positive and loving spirit that has already marked this academic year as we “return full force” to in person instruction and celebrations. Have a wonderful week and weekend ahead.

In Our Lady’s Name and Love,

Dr. McGowan, Principal

It has been a wonderful month of Our Blessed Mother. We honored Mary at the May Crowning liturgy with one of the eighth graders, Aline Doan, crowning Mary. The second graders formed an honor procession as they had just received their First Holy Communion the Saturday before. It was truly a special occasion and we thank all the parents and teachers who helped to prepare the students for both events.

May is filled with wonderful excursions for our students. They are heading off to Crab Cove, Great America, the California Academy of Sciences, and of course our very own PE Field Day. There always is excitement around any events and we are happy to pursue learning in various ways.

We want to say good-bye to Mrs. Debbie Russell. She has been with Our Lady of Grace Catholic School as a parent, teacher’s assistant, bookkeeper as well as office manager. She has served here for 28 years and is officially retiring. Please drop her a note of gratitude to the parish office before she leaves in June.

Also leaving the Our Lady of Grace Catholic School community is Mrs. Sanchez, who has been a parent volunteer, room mother, and secretary. Other teachers leaving are Mrs. Britt, Ms. Kirkland, Mrs. Norris, Mrs. Danek and Ms. Bedolla. They are going off to pursue other paths. We thank them for their service and dedication to Catholic education especially here at OLG.

I too am leaving. As an interim principal, this year has been filled with joy, unity, love and truth. The CORE values. Along the way, we have all survived more of the Covid issues, the restrictions with masks, etc. Our students have grown and are working to be loving Catholic/Christians. It has been a pleasure serving here at OLG and I thank the parishioners, School Board, parents, teachers and staff for all their support. Thank you.

Mrs. Kathy Gannon-Briggs

This has been a very spiritual Lent for our students. The Stations of the Cross have been held on Friday. Each class took one week and prepared the readings, etc. The Friday Prayer Services have also been a special part of this holy season. Transitional Kindergarten (TK) had a very special prayer service last Friday. They were well prepared by their teachers, Mrs. Britt and Mrs. Hernandez. They are the youngest in the school and showed us what they have learned from all the other grades. Each morning the Student Leadership group starts our day with prayer and the pledge to the flag. It is our custom in Catholic Schools to always begin with prayer. Also, on Wednesday, we have been attending Mass and celebrating the Eucharist. The students are happy to be back in church and doing the readings, etc.

Our second grader, Andrea Soulard along with her classmates, made blue and yellow bracelets to remember Ukraine. They raised $3100 and it is a good way to remember each day the plight of the Ukraine people.

All of the 8th graders who applied to Catholic high schools: Moreau, O’Dowd, St. Jos. and De La Salle were accepted and many were with highest honors. We congratulate these students and their teachers and parents for all the hard work it takes to get them to this point.

We pray for our parishioners during this Holy Season of Lent and wish everyone a blessed Easter.

Mrs. Kathy Gannon-Briggs

This has been a very prayerful time for our students. We pray for the people of Ukraine, especially the children. We pray at the Stations of the Cross each Friday and we attend Mass on Wednesdays. Our special Prayer Service is on Fridays and each grade takes time to prepare either their class saint or something appropriate for that grade level. We infuse the values of Unity, Truth and Love into our daily lives here at OLG Catholic School.

We have some upcoming events that have had to be postponed due to restrictions of Covid. But now we are opening the doors for an Open House for all to come and visit the classrooms to see what is happening inside these great classrooms. It will be on April 3rd after the 9:00 Mass and we hope you will join us and bring your friends and neighbors. This is our way of sharing the Good News of Catholic Education.

The sixth grade class recently went to the Catholic Youth Camp up in Occidental for a week of outdoor education and a chance to reflect on the beauty of nature and God’s gifts all around.

The 8th graders that applied to Catholic High Schools- Moreau, O’Dowd, and St. Joseph’s all were accepted and some with high honors. We are proud of the work they have done to achieve this success. Congratulations to them, their teachers and their parents.

Mrs. Kathy Gannon-Briggs

To the Parish

February is a great month to share our love of the Blessed Mother. And we did that by forming a procession and saying the rosary. We all gathered in the school yard and processed around to meet Father John in the church courtyard for a blessing in honor of Mary on February 2nd. We thank Brother Chris , our Religion Coordinator, for orchestrating this tribute to Mary. It also happened to be on the coldest and windiest day but we did it!

Catholic School Week was a treat for all of our students. They got together in their classrooms and picked themes based on Vocations, our Nation, the Family, Community and lastly focusing on the Students. There was even a talent show which was virtual and thanks to Mr. Killian, Ms. Luppetti, and Mrs. Norris, who organized it, the students performed all kinds of wonderful singing, dancing etc.. The week culminated by having 6 students participate in the Diocesan Science Fair. The students were guided by Mrs. Hughes, the eighth grade teacher. The entire 7th and 8th grade students proudly displayed their experiments upstairs in the hall for the rest of the school to observe. Catholic School Week is observed across the country and we were happy to be a part of the National Celebration.

Mrs. Kathy Gannon-Briggs

A Blessed New Year to each of you. We hope and pray you are surviving this virus and all its calamities. We were thrilled to receive student test kits from the Diocese of Oakland who received them from Alameda County. We were fortunate to get one per student. Hopefully this will reassure parents that their child is healthy and virus free and ready to come back to school . What a gift that was from us to the parents.
January is a time when we begin our preparation for Catholic School Week. It begins January 30 and goes to February 5th.Look for how we will prepare for either a virtual Open House or a real one. Who knows, it changes often.
Thank you for your continuous support of the parish catholic school. It is a privilege to serve in the ministry of Catholic education. We have the ongoing support of you, the parishioners, the school families, faculty and staff, it all adds up to a great team.
Blessings on the New Year, whatever it brings.

Mrs. Kathy Gannon-Briggs

As we begin a New Year, 2022, we look forward to continuing the work of Catholic education at Our Lady of Grace Catholic School. The faculty meets for prayer every morning before school and each faculty person takes a turn at leading the prayer. At the morning assembly, our Student Council leads us in the prayer of the day and the pledge to the flag. Each class has a designated Religion time for instruction. On Wednesdays, the entire school from TK-8 grade attend Mass in the church with masks on and safely distanced. Each month, we assign a particular project to support in order to have the students learn more about the Corporal Works of Mercy. All of these actions support our Catholic Identity in our school. Please pray for us as we minister to the important work of the church-education. Thank you.

Mrs. Kathy Gannon-Briggs

November is the month that we give thanks. At Our Lady of Grace Catholic School, we give thanks to Father Tom and the parish for supporting the work of Catholic Education. We give thanks for the dedicated faculty and staff and the many hours they spend on lesson planning, producing interesting curriculum and caring for each student that they give. We give thanks for the office staff who keep things buzzing and organized. We give thanks for the parents and grandparents who sacrifice and work tirelessly to send their children to a catholic school. WE give thanks for all those who went before us and worked very hard to make sure future generations had the opportunity to receive a catholic education. We give thanks to all. Amen

Kathy Gannon-Briggs

For the past few weeks, we have been focused on Spanish/Heritage Month. Ms. Fajardo, our Spanish teacher, has been preparing all the students for an assembly to highlight different aspects of the culture. It consisted of dance, music, poetry, and art. Each grade performed their particular event and learned quite a bit about the culture. We have been collecting pennies for a Senior citizen home in El Salvador that Ms. Fajardo’s sister volunteers there. So far, we have over $1500. collected to send to them. This will help in buying needed supplies and other things for this home. The fifth grade students with the help of Mrs. Danek and Ms. Fajardo have embraced this project with great gusto and are proud of their efforts. We focus on social justice projects monthly in order to bring awareness to our students the importance of caring for their brothers and sisters wherever they are in the world.

Kathy Gannon-Briggs

We were very happy to welcome 209 students to Our Lady of Grace in August all wearing masks and ready to begin the 2021-2022 school year. We have been very cautious with all the protocols about the COVID virus and the students have been very good about keeping their masks on and following the latest guidelines. We celebrate learning about the Good News of Christ Jesus and we celebrate that we are in school full time, all day! I thank the faculty and staff for all their tremendous effort to keep everyone safe and protected. We welcomed 3 new teachers this year: Mrs. Norris, Mr. Manifesto and Ms. Lupetti. They are a wonderful addition to our faculty. Let me thank the Administrative Team consisting of Ms. Dawson, Brother Chris and Mrs. Russell. They have been a great support to me in opening the school.

We at Our Lady of Grace are a strong community of faith. Every school day begins with the Faculty and Staff joining in prayer in the faculty room at 7:30. The Student Council begins our day with prayer, the pledge to the flag and various announcements. Each week the school celebrates the liturgy outside and the students sit in their Faith Families. A Faith Family consists of one student from each grade including TK and Kindergarten. The eighth grader is the family leader and is responsible for all those in the family. The Faith Families have a patron saint and a banner that goes with it and the students are learning more about a variety of saints. This is part of our building our faith community and we ask you, the parishioners, to pray for us as we do this important ministry of the church of educating the students in the faith.

Kathy Gannon-Briggs

Dear Parishioners

Every year our students have their Easter break beginning on Holy Thursday. We usually have all the students come to a reenactment of the Seder Meal gathered together around our lunch courtyard. We adjusted this year to comply with county guidelines for Covid safety but we still held the celebration of the apostles as they ate the last meal with Jesus.

What a beautiful time of year for all of us. It is not only spring with new life and warm weather, it is a time of rejoicing after the forty days of preparation for the Resurrection. Our eighth grade students have been notified by the surrounding Catholic high schools of admittance for the fall. Our school is now open for all wishing to attend in person and we can truly rejoice over the many graces and blessings the Lord has bestowed upon us as we provided the best education possible over the past year. The teachers have worked tirelessly to give each and every child a Christ-centered focus throughout all the subjects they teach. Students in every grade are ready to take on the new school year knowing they have been challenged and supported all during the pandemic. Our Lady of Grace Catholic School does not have as many resources for academics as our public schools, but what it does have is a dedicated staff striving to promote not just academic prowess, but the goodness in each and every child. It is our Mission to serve others and to have our graduates serve others with a Christ like approach. Let us all remember St. John’s quote–“He so loved the world He gave us His only begotten Son.” We are Easter people.

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

Dear Readers

We keep increasing the number of children who are on campus and that is good. School is where our children belong. At this time we have children completely on campus in TK and K and they are so happy to see each other. We have learned a lot during this distance learning and what we all know is, children do best when working with friends in the classroom. We are so grateful to all of our parents as they have taken this journey of educating our children. It has not been easy and would not have been possible without their support.

Now that the season of lent is here, our focus for the children is preparing for Easter over the 40 days of lent. Thanks to our art teacher, Barbara Westerhoff, we have the stations of the cross all along the fence line in our parking lot. Check them out, as they are really beautifully done.

We are moving through the school year with very solid program for those at home and those in school and as our staff gets their vaccine, we hope to be able to bring all students back. Please continue to keep all of our staff in your prayers!

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

Dear Parishioners

I am so excited to inform you about Catholic Schools’ Week which opens Sunday, January 31st and goes until February 6th. The theme is Faith, Excellence, and Service. I am proud to say our school children receive an education that combines Catholic faith and teachings with academic excellence. Along with those two values, we instill in our students the value of service.

To begin our week we have a “Pay It Forward Day” where the students will do random acts of kindness. They will continue on Tuesday paying it forward by making a quilt of thank you cards to be published on our Facebook page so all essential workers will see how grateful we are to all of them. On Wednesday wearing red, white, and blue we will honor “Grandparents and Special Friends” with love notes telling of the many ways they are special to us. We will put a class video on our Facebook page that day too. Thursday’s theme is “Be a Rainbow in Someone Else’s Cloud.” Sisters and priests in the diocese often get forgotten. We will make a special card and make sure it is delivered to various locations where our retired nuns and priests live. Last but not least, Friday is “Higher Education Day” where we wear our favorite high school or college sweatshirt and we cap off the day with a virtual talent show.

We recognize that the 99% graduation rate from high school is directly related to the high standards for student achievement which our teachers provide throughout the TK-8th grade years. Knowing our parents expect us to set the bar high, we gladly take the lead and provide the curriculum they desire.

It takes a team to make all this work and the team consists of parents-teachers-students. Our dedicated staff and faculty, partnering with our loving parents, makes our job easier. Not all schools are blessed with a pastor like our Fr. Tom who loves the children and provides the support of the OLG community. And so we thank all mentioned above as well as all of you who use the “blue” envelopes to help defray expenses at the school. Every little bit helps us provide the best program possible.
Sending blessings to all of you from the school children knowing that Jesus said, “bring the little children to me.” Susan Anderson, Principal–

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

Happy New Year to all from the staff at OLG School!

While the year 2020 presented us with many challenges, let us look back at the many lessons we learned. When children make mistakes at school, we help them see what they did wrong and show them what other choice they could have made, always ending our conversation with “now you have a clean slate. Now that the year 2020 has ended, let us all begin with a clean slate knowing we have been given the greatest gift of all – Faith. Jesus showed us the way when he came to earth as our precious Savior leaving us His perfect model to emulate. Years later, Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want in the world.”

I have introduced my staff to a wonderful little book called Gracious Space by author, Patricia Hughes. I highly recommend it to all of you to read. In this book on how to live life to the fullest, there are many famous people whom she quotes. I would like to share a couple that I believe could guide us all as we set our resolutions in place for 2021. The first quote is from the lips of Jesse Jackson who said, “Leadership has a harder job to do than just take sides. It must bring sides together” and the final quote was by Mark Twain who said, “It is not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion which makes horse races.” May the blessings of our dear Lord be upon you.

Susan R. Anderson

Unity – Truth – Love

Dear Readers

The following beautiful quote is one for us all to think about as we enter our Advent season and the beauty of Christmas.

“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

To say the opening of this school year has been a challenge is an understatement. Day to day changes as to guidelines from the County and Diocese have been ongoing. At this time our children in TK – 2nd are on campus, if their parents so chose. Because some students are at home, our teachers have had portals installed in their classrooms to better serve the children learning from home. No expense has been spared to make sure we are offering the best education possible. Our children work daily from 8:00 – 3:00. As well as enhancing educational program, we have followed closely the safety measures given to us, almost on a daily basis. Our buildings are sanitized effectively including spraying the rooms with disinfectant and using ultraviolet lamps each night. The teachers have modeled love, kindness, and empathy toward every child. This must have been what was required of Jesus when He tried to meet the needs of all He traveled among.

Please keep all of the school families and staff in your prayers so that we can return from Christmas break and be able to open our school classrooms to more children. May the New Year of 2021 afford us a lessening of this virus, and we always need to continue praying for more “gracious space” in our world. Just as Patricia Hughes, the author of Gracious Space tells us in her book, “our world will be a better place if we make sure to have a basic level of trust in one another so that authentic learning and working together will be productive.” You can see our school’s connection to this philosophy painted on our school mural wall facing the church parking area. Our children are taught to come together on the peace bench below the wall and work with each other to resolve any differences they may have. What better models than that of our children could we have? God bless you all.

Susan Anderson, Principal

The National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) has posted a flyer that says “A Dozen Reasons to Choose Catholic Schools.” I am not going to state all of them but want to let you know that Our Lady of Grace Catholic School proudly stands as a community of faith, knowledge, and service. By partnering with our parents, setting high standards for student achievement provided by offering a balanced academic curriculum, we can assure our families that we are combining Catholic faith and teaching with academic excellence.

We teach our students to respect themselves and others instilling the value of service. Our dedicated staff makes sure they model the teachings of Jesus so as to be sure we are preparing students to be productive citizens and future leaders. It has been extremely challenging to teach through distance learning but our daily program has followed the daily on site program students would have received had they been on campus.

Now that Alameda County has allowed us to reopen, we are excited to begin opening our doors to Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten students. As we continue to work to keep all staff and students safe, we will eventually be able to invite all of our students back to the campus. Keep us all in your prayers along the journey we are taking to get back to a more normal school program.

Susan R. Anderson

Unity – Truth – Love

Dear Parishioners

To say the least opening school with all classes being taught with Distance Learning continues to be a challenge for all involved. Praise goes out to our wonderful staff who continually provides all students with challenging, exciting, rigorous academics. Ask any parent who is working with their child and they will tell you how much they are now learning by helping their children on line! The diversity of our students has shown us that with hard work, supportive parents, and loving teachers they can accomplish the tasks before them. This is first and foremost a parish Catholic school and the pandemic, though difficult, has given all involved the opportunity to model a Christ-like approach to others. This is “gracious space” in action.

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

Six years ago I accepted the invitation from Fr. Greg to lead the parish school. What an honor that was and what a joy it is to work every day for such a supportive pastor, our own Fr. Tom. I am blessed as well to work with some of the finest people in education anywhere, the OLG staff. Our teachers, office staff and support staff have done an awesome job getting school ready to open.

And open we did, on August 13th in the distance learning format. What a glorious day it was greeting our students on zoom calls with students and teachers smiling at each other all anxious to do their best. Our curriculum continues to follow state standards and is rigorous and Christ-centered knowing our loving God will see us through this pandemic.

No student is losing educational time as the teachers have prepared full days of learning where children can access their teachers for help from 8:00-3:00 each day. May we always focus on the words from the bible that say— “bring the little children to me.” Our Catholic schools never fail our students.

Please keep our families and staff in your prayers as we work in unity at our school creating “gracious space” for all who enter our doors.

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

We have come to the end of the 2019-2020 school year and students, teachers, and parents have worked more closely than ever before to assure that our children would receive a curriculum that meets the California and Diocesan standards. We have been living through the pandemic with much the same feelings of the apostles when their boat was sinking and they cried out to Jesus for help. They called on Jesus to quiet the storm and so too are we praying to Him. What we do know is that He gave His life for us so we continue to pray to Him.

In spite of the virus—our school community has stayed healthy, our children have completed a trimester of solid work, and our parents have been the solid supporters that have allowed our students to receive their report cards. All look forward to the coming school year. Our 30 eighth grade students have been admitted to our surrounding high schools and our blessings go with them.

So our focus continues on the good Lord and how our faith in Him will get us through these challenging times.

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

In these unprecedented times, there is reason to rejoice! The Our Lady of Grace faculty has been working nonstop since March 17th to provide a challenging, quality academic program for all students four to fourteen. The learning curve has been steep having to use Zoom and create videos and hold online office hours. In spite of all this new approach to teaching and learning, our students, teachers, and parents have come through like champs! Incorporated into each day’s lessons are the core values we live by- unity, truth, and love.

So far our loving God has brought us through the darkness by keeping us healthy and safe. How blessed we are!

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

Never in all my years of teaching have I or my fellow teachers faced anything as challenging as the planning and preparing of curriculum necessary for this coronavirus crisis. What can we take from this first time experience that is uplifting?

Well, first of all, when the call came to close our schools, our faculty and staff went into “work mode” coming in for hours and hours over Saturday and Sunday, March 14th and 15th. They began making videos and creating online lessons so the children would not fall behind and keep moving in a forward direction. On top of that, they created packets and packets of fun, challenging work in all of their subjects.They also gave their students online access to them personally so they would not be without immediate feedback.

What I know is we are blessed with the finest givers anywhere. The staff at OLG has every child and family tucked deeply into their hearts. When Jesus said, “Bring the little children to me,” I think He knew to send them to Our Lady of Grace Catholic School.

Following the loving lead of their parents, every single staff person is doing his or her best to make this very difficult period in our lives move in a positive direction. Thank you families and staff at OLG. We will do just fine as a community of learners working together.

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

February is always packed with educational excitement. We started off celebrating the 100th day of school. Students and teachers were attired as if 100 years old and each primary level illustrated what the number 100 looks like in various projects they created.

The focus switched to appreciation for our Presidents especially for George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. In studying their eras, students learned about famous African-Americans who helped to build our country with the understanding God made us all in His image and likeness.

As we wended our way to the end of the month, the joy of Mardi Gras, celebrated here as our Heritage Food Day, where school families shared ethnic dishes for all students to try led us to the holy season of Lent. Our entire school celebrated at the 8:15 Mass on Ash Wednesday and for the next 40 days will pray for the precious gift of life and in particular for the unborn. We pray we will have grown closer to the Lord who loves us after praying these forty days of Lent.

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

School reopened January 6 and since then many educational opportunities were experienced. We work with Castro Valley Sanitary District to follow the guidelines to be a Green Ribbon School and to that end our Student Council did a lunch audit of all our disposal bins. Our students know how to properly place items in either garbage, organic, or recycle bins reducing our carbon footprint.

Eighth grade students applying to Catholic high schools took their HSPT test on Saturday, the 11th. They wait now until March for the admittance letters. Catholic Schools Week began after 9:30 Mass on the 26th with a lovely brunch provided by Miraglia Catering.

Many people travelled throughout the school looking at all the current work students have produced under the tutelage of their teachers. As always, the most well attended day of that week was Wednesday, when Special Friends/Grandparents came for Mass, brunch, and entertainment by the school children. All was done with love and leads us into this month of February noted for St. Valentine and loving hearts.

Susan Anderson, Principal

Unity – Truth – Love

We echo the refrain, ” O come, O come Emmanuel.” Our Lord has come! Our celebration all through Advent led us to His birth. The school children presented the Christmas story on December 7th which seems so far away now. Joyful music sung by all students and our children’s choir set the tone for the tree lighting in Stack Center which followed Mass. Parishioners joined school families there to enjoy fellowship and the Christmas spirit. As our New Year begins, let us all rejoice in the Lord and please join us on Sunday, January 26th for the opening of Catholic Schools Week at the 9:30 Mass followed by a brunch in Stack and a tour of the school.

Susan R. Anderson

Unity – Truth – Love

November has been a busy month of focusing on particular areas reflective of Jesus’ teachings. We began the month with the celebration by the whole school at All Saints Day liturgy.

Further into the month we celebrated World Kindness Day which was on November 13th. Our students wrote cards filled with ideas of little acts of kindness that they could do.

We changed our focus to helping the needy by collecting canned goods and will distribute them to people in Castro Valley who can use our help. All we do is in keeping with our mission statement that says—“we serve a diverse community, modeling Christ through unity, truth, and love.

Advent is upon us and we now prepare “the way of the Lord” making sure we focus on the real reason for the season. God bless you all.

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

Now that fall has arrived, our students continue working together with their Faith Family members. Each child is assigned one Faith Family which is comprised of a student in every grade. This allows our older students to act as big brothers and big sisters to our younger students creating a bond that epitomizes our core value of Unity.

This is also the time of year our Bishop Barber invites our 8th graders to the Cathedral for a day of prayer and play and they had a wonderful time on that special day. It is also the season when our students enjoy field trips to the surrounding Catholic high schools to see what each one offers. We are blessed to have so many to choose from close by. Our younger students have been taken on field trips to the pumpkin patch, all students participated in our annual Book Fair and the month was culminated with our annual Halloween costume parade.

November 1st affords all of our students and staff to focus on All Saints as we pray together in Faith Families at Mass. The year marches on in our Catholic school always with our focus on the Lord who loves us all.

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

Having started school August 19th and now looking ahead to October which will be packed with our Book Fair, parent conferences, and field trips, we have much to be grateful for.

Our new primary grade play structure is bringing smiles not only to our school children each school day, but smiles to parishioners’ children on weekends after Mass.

The courtyard eating area has been enhanced with an artificial turf beneath the tables making the lunch recess spot an inviting place to come together.

These beautified areas around the campus have been made possible by the fundraising of our school parents. We are always mindful of how good God is to our OLG community and invite everyone to stop by and see these new improvements. Our core values of Unity, Truth, and Love drive our instruction and coincide with the focus of our parents as we work together to help children be the best young people they can be.

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

Dear Parishioners

After a fantastic Welcome Event on August 10th for families new to our school, our school is officially opened on Monday, August 19th. Many wonderful improvements have been made to the physical plant during the summer, the most visible being our new play structure for little children. All are welcome to use it so please let your children enjoy it on Sundays after Masses. Along with the improvements to the school buildings the latest quality educational materials have been purchased for our 217 students thanks for the generosity of our parents.
You are always welcome to stop by our school office and have one of us give you a tour or chat with you about the outstanding work our teachers do for our Catholic school children. I am blessed to have 30 dedicated staff members who epitomize our core values of Unity, Truth, and Love. This is our parish school, please visit us.

Calling All Alumni: On Saturday, September 28th from 1:00 – 3:00 PM, we are inviting you to come visit the school you once attended. Walk the hallway photo gallery and find yourself as you were in 8th grade the year you graduated from OLG. Enjoy visiting with school chums, meet the principal and some of the teaching staff you once had when a student here. We are excited to show off all the improvements that have been made since you were a student at the school.

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

When June 7, 2019 arrives we will have been in school for 180 days. So much has been accomplished with and for our students this 2018-2019 school year. Our Mission statement says we try to “create a balance among the spiritual, academic, and social growth” of each student. To that end each teacher and staff person has worked with love and dedication to fulfill that promise.

As we begin the summer and go our separate ways, many thanks are in order. Change occurs every year and this is no different. Our Kid Kare will miss the early morning presence of Ms. Rosemary who lovingly opens the doors daily at 6:30 A.M. Our upper grade students will miss their teachers, Mr. Scholz, Mrs. Contreras and Ms. Markette as well as our Tech coordinator/teacher, Ms. Gibbons. New staff will be joining us to continue the great work these people leave as their legacy. Please pray for all of us that we have a safe, fruitful, happy summer break. May we all remember Psalm 45 which says, “The Lord is near to all who call on Him.”

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

Dear Parishioners

Refreshed from our Easter break, we are back and school is in session until June 7th. Please join us for Mass at 9:30 on May 19th when 12 of our second grade students will receive their First Communion.

Another date to put on your calendars is the Mass on Wednesday, May 29th at 8:15 when our 8th grade students are honored at their graduation Mass. The entire school surrounds them with love by participating in the service and families and friends of the graduates attend. Saturday, June 1st at 10:15 is the actual graduation ceremony. It is held in our church and all parishioners are welcome to attend.

At this exciting ending of our school year, we ask your prayers for all staff, students, and families! Our Lady of Grace, pray for us!

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

It is that time of year again when all at our school focus on preparing for the beautiful feast of Easter. Children present the Stations of the Cross on Fridays, we host the soup meal one Wednesday, we go to the sacrament of Reconciliation, and we participate in daily Mass. Fr. Tom has provided all with a list of wonderful ways to grow closer to Jesus with one way to do so through the program FORMED. Our students and families use this site once a week and thus are able to connect more closely as families. As we get nearer to Holy Week, let us all look back upon these 40 days and be glad we spent time making our daily focus the Lord who loves us all.

Susan Anderson, Principal

Taking time daily to reflect on the word of God is part of every day at our school. We begin our day with prayer and then say the Pledge of Allegiance together with parents, teachers, and staff. It saddened me to tell the school community of the death of one of our graduates as each and every child is a child of God. Our school’s philosophy says that we “work together to develop individuals who are filled with a Christ-like approach to others.”

During the month of February students had opportunities to reflect on great people in our country, leaders who enriched our country by their dedication to all mankind, people with solid moral fiber. These individuals such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, understood the importance of serving the needs of others.

Our Student Council members serve the student body with the clear understanding of what it says on the back of their sweatshirts – to lead is to serve. May we all work together to imbue this sense of self-worth and love of helping each other.

Susan Anderson, Principal

Dear Parishioners

There is much to celebrate in our parish and especially in our parish school. We are a school with an enrollment of 216 wonderful children from TK through 8th grade.

Our 8th graders just took the HSPT test to enter our surrounding Catholic high schools and anxiously await those results. The majority of our 25 8th graders are hoping to attend Catholic high schools in our area. In the past ALL applicants wishing to attend Catholic high schools have been accepted and this year should be the same.

I hope many of you were able to visit school our Open House for Catholic Schools’ Week. If you did, you would have met all our dedicated teaching/support staff. We are blessed to have 32 on staff who give of themselves in too many ways to mention to enhance the learning begun by our parents.

Our school is open to you for a visit should you wish to come. Just call the school office to set up and appointment to visit.

Looking ahead to February activities, check out the Lillian Black Arts Festival on Sunday, February 24th at Bishop O’Dowd High School where many of our artists will have their work on display thanks to their teacher and parishioner, Barbara Westerhoff.

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

Happy New Year!

Refreshed from our Christmas vacation, faculty and staff are back to continue their dedicated good work with our wonderful children. January is a busy month for Catholic schools, and thus it is for OLG. Our annual spelling bee takes place on January 14th. Last year’s winner went all the way to the state finals!

We come together on January 19th as the community of Our Lady of Grace to enjoy food and fellowship at the Crab Feed put on by the Knights of Columbus. Following that opportunity to connect with our parishioners, we move to Sunday, January 27th which opens Catholic Schools’ Week. Please join us for special treats after 9:30 Mass and at 11:00 come tour our school. Teachers, Student Council members and School Board members will be on hand to greet you. God bless us all.

Susan Anderson, Principal

This is the season for all to give thanks. No better way to do this than as the community of OLG. Many opportunities are available for all families to join in. Our students will be the leaders at the 5:00 Mass on December 1 and they will be there as greeters, readers, and singers. At the end of Mass our second grade students will be enacting the beautiful Christmas story and following their short play, we will all go to Stack Center for our annual tree lighting with Fr. Tom. Delicious small plates are being prepared by our school families and we invite all in our parish to come and enjoy good friends, good food, and “gracious space.” If you come you might be surprised by a visitor coming from the North Pole!

Susan Anderson, Principal

Communication is key to our school’s success. Teachers/students/parents are the team that communicate with each other to be sure that best practices are being used at all grade levels. To understand this process better, we host parent conferences this month. By coming together to discuss goals, both immediate and for the future, our stakeholders are able to come away from a conference with a keener clarification of why Our Lady of Grace Catholic School is a great place of learning. We go back to our Mission which says, ” we serve a diverse community, modeling Christ through unity, truth, and love, to create a balance of spiritual, academic, and social growth.” During our conferences we are having our annual Book Fair in Stack Center. Come find wonderful books for those you love and put them away for Christmas.

Susan Anderson, Principal

Our annual Festival was another success thanks to the work done by so many in our parish. A particular thanks to both Elena Zavala one of our school parents who chaired the event along with Colleen Lindberg of the parish. Jesus said,
“Let the little children come to me.” They came in droves to this family weekend event which is why it was so wonderful. God bless all who worked it, and all who came.

Susan R. Anderson
Unity – Truth – Love

Dear Parishioners

Our first day of Catholic school was Monday, August 20th. What a glorious sight to behold at the 8:00 morning bell! Parents, grandparents, students, staff all smiling and chatting with each other with excitement and joy. The mood was electric. Our Lady of Grace Catholic School is what I call a “crown jewel” amidst many other very fine educational institutions in our area. We may be small, but we as a community are strong. Working together we accomplish many good things for our students – such as – individualized reading groups in grades 1-4; 10 to 1 student-teacher pupil ratio in TK and K; small group math instruction in grades 5-8 and driving all of our instruction is adhering to the National Catholic Benchmarks and Standards. There are 9 standards and the first says we are “centered on the person of Jesus Christ.” Please come visit our wonderful school by calling our school office to schedule a visit.

Susan Anderson, Principal

It is always hard to believe when May rolls around that another school year has transpired. So many exciting opportunities for children and families permeate the year. We began our community connection with the annual Festival where families enjoyed two days of fun and revelry. Into December we came together again for our Advent tree lighting event. Open House for Catholic Schools’ Week in January set our 2018 year in gear. Lent rolled into Easter and our spring break and First Communions took place leadiing us toward graduation on June 2, 2018. Looking back it was a year filled with Unity, Truth, and Love and the greatest of these is love. Our school community spread its love throughout the year helping the needy with canned goods, gift cards on the Christmas trees, and tons of items given to the homeless here in C.V. God has blessed us mightily and this community always gives back in the spirit of “gracious space.” May the summer ahead afford all families time to relax with one another.

Susan Anderson, Principal

An awesome 9:30 Mass was shared with many parishioners due to the reception of First Communion with 20 of our second grade students. Fr. Tom gave a great homily to those receiving and stayed after Mass so that each student could have his/her picture taken with Fr. Tom.

We look forward to those families now coming each Sunday with our newest members of the church. We also wish God’s blessings on the other children in the parish who will also be receiving the sacrament for the first time. How perfect the bible verse when Jesus said, “let the children come to me.”

Susan Anderson, Principal

Our Lady of Grace Catholic School Update:

Our school prepared for our WCEA/WASC (Western Catholic Educational Association/ Western Association of Schools and Colleges) visit for over a year. From March 19-21 a team of educators came to affirm what our Self Study book said about our curriculum. The Self Study is written by all faculty and staff with student and parent input. Data collected is used to drive curriculum so as to provide best practices in teaching for all of our students. Overriding the entire Self Study is our Mission Statement and Philosophy where all families know our students come from a diverse community and work to model Jesus by living out our Core Values of Unity, Truth, and Love. We have created “gracious space” for all who enter our doors.

Susan Anderson, Principal

It was all pretty simple: Find someone to be Interim Principal for one year; To replace a beloved Teaching-Aid/Instructor/Teacher/Principal of over 30 years; To keep the school running for the year at its current high level; And get it ready for the future.

With that on his plate, Father Tom ( Father Thomas Czeck OFM Conv, our pastor ) set out to find such a person. He did. Pulled off of the freeway near Atlanta GA to take the call, in a hot parking lot in the baking Georgia sun, on her way to retirement. This phone interview was important. Fr Tom needed someone that could fill the gap, give good leadership, and have a full understanding of a school and its future.

Fr Tom was speaking to Mrs. Kathy Gannon-Briggs. On vacation, she was all set for a nice relaxing retirement, ready for spin and swimming classes, committed to working a full day every Thursday in a hospital in the Tri-Valley area which she had already been doing for six years, and planning a pilgrimage to sites in Europe in the fall. Two hundred plus kids were not on her radar.

Mrs Gannon-Briggs had filled the role as interim principal several times to help schools. But usually for several months, and at most half the school year. But one year? It gave her pause.

On the phone, neither Fr Tom nor Mrs. Gannon-Briggs could know that coming were: the Omicron variant that would force distance learning again for several months; a furnace malfunction that would flood two class rooms with smoke and fill the rest of the main building with overpowering odors two days before Christmas Break ( fortunately before kids arrived for the school day) that forced the cleaning of the upper floors, the replacement of two furnaces, the testing of all air quality, all to be done before the children were scheduled back after Christmas break; the relaxing of masking mandates in mid March that allowed no-mask options in schools for teachers and students; and the need to get the school community back together after the long isolations brought on by COVID-19. And at this writing, there are still two months of school left!

So, what did Mrs. Kathy Gannon-Briggs bring to the table?

A teacher with many years of classroom experience meant that she knew children, their needs both for moral and intellectual growth. She was able to get things done in the midst of chaos, as any good classroom teacher can and must do. A strong sense of the importance of the spiritual foundation to accompany the educational foundation so important for future life. An understanding of how to make the school work and what was down the road.

Principal Gannon-Briggs hit the ground running in August. She got in, met the staff, set up her goals and looked everything over with a keen eye and white glove. She made sure that the religious aspects of our school were front and center along with education. She met the School Board in September and quickly got us on board with her vision and was quickly able to get our input on aspects of the school where the board brought expertise.

She quickly got the board and staff working on the writings that would go into the accreditation work that would need to be done in the following two years. She moved on anything that she considered health and safety issues and involved the Safety and Maintenance committee of the board. She found a parent, a nurse in charge of infectious disease information and mandates at UCSF to be on the board to help guide us through this most difficult time of Covid.

During her spare time, she filled in for sick teachers, shepherded children and parents,

looked after the budget and provided strong leadership for a school community that had been through a very difficult 2020-2021 school year. People would get email answers to questions at 5:30am on school days, and even once, an okay of the board minutes from somewhere in Spain.

She has been completely dedicated to the school and its community, working tirelessly on the children’s behalf. She quickly addresses every issue.

This picture was taken on a Friday, when 4 teachers were out with colds, the open house was in two days, and a hectic life was even more so. There was a child on the bench in front of the office. After talking with Mrs. Russell and the child, Principal Gannon-Briggs walked down the quiet hallways

back to 1st grade with the child.

The OLG School Board wishes to thank Principal Gannon-Briggs for her wonderful work in taking care of the students, parents, staff and community that is Our Lady of Grace Parish School and shepherding us through a very challenging year.

THANK YOU Principal Gannon-Briggs.

First Days of School. You remember them. To line up in a new row with old friends. The teachers at the head of each row. You are too excited to stop talking. Too excited to listen. Your backpack is full of new pencils and fresh unused erasers.

A First Day : August 20, 2018

Parents, standing off to the side, cannot believe the noise that is coming from this not so small group. Will the chaos of movement and noise ever be tamed? Controlled? Then there is quiet, just that suddenly. The school year has started.

8/13/2020 was different. The only lines signaling school were cars staged to pick up or drop off packets of papers. Distant faces behind windshields and rolled up windows as contact was kept to a minimum. The school doors are locked. Few ventured out. We were in lockdown.

Thus began distance learning. Much had been learned about distance learning through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. But no one believed that it would continue. It did and the uncertainty of how long continued too.

TK and K were the first to return in early November.

It is now April 2021. Eighth grade has just joined the rest of the school for on-campus learning. All classes are back. It was a monumental task requiring the support of families, and the tireless diligence and caring of Teachers, Staff and Admin.

Just an ordinary teaching day at OLG ?

With a sigh of relief and prayers for continued success, the OLG School Board would like to recognize the school’s Principal, Teachers and Staff as the reason that the students and families are back in the classroom, together again learning, having fun, and experiencing school as it should be experienced. It was through their tireless work, energy, caring and love that the students and families are, maybe a bit worse for wear, physically together again.

The OLG Board’s Dedication for the 2020-2021 school year is to :

PrincipalSusan Anderson
Office Manager Debbie Russell
Secretary Chrystalla Sanchez
TK Teacher Kristen Russo
Kindergarten Teacher Nubia Giles
1st Grade Teacher Kathleen Kirkland
2nd Grade Teacher Clara Castillo
3rd Grade Teacher Molly Gotchet
4th Grade Teacher Michael Killian
5th Grade Teacher Denise Danek
6th Grade Homeroom Shyra Dawson
7th Grade Homeroom Patricia Hierro
8th Grade Homeroom Kimberly Hughes
Art Barbara Westerhoff
Lang. Arts Grades 6th-8th Br. Chris Saindon
Mass Preparation Claudia Dobbs
Math Grades 5th-8th Patricia Hierro
Algebra Jeff Stone
Music Grades TK-5th Marlee Marshall
PE TK-8th Raquel Torres
Science Grades TK-1st,4-5Bridget Britt
Science Grades 6th-8th Kimberly Hughes
Reading Specialist Lori Singer
Spanish Maria Fajardo
Inst. Asst. Maribel Barrera
Inst. Asst. Amy Hernandez
Inst. Asst. Thelma Dawson
Inst. Asst. Rose Filson
Inst. Asst. Miriam Teran
Kid Kare Director Carmen Tortolani
Kid Kare Staff Susana Bedolla
Counselor Katey Woods

Susan Anderson

Debbie Russell

Chrystalla Sanchez

Kristen Russo

Nubia Giles

Kathleen Kirkland

Clara Castillo

Molly Gotchet

Michael Killan

Denise Danek

Shyra Dawson

Patricia Hierro

Kimberly Hughes

Barbara Westerhoff

Br. Chris Saindon

Claudia Dobbs

Jeff Stone

Bridget Britt

Lori Singer

Maria Fajardo

Maribel Barrera

Amy Hernandez

Thelma Dawson

Miriam Teran

Carmen Tortolani

Susana Bedolla
Our thanks to Kurt Burton Photography here in Castro Valley for these portraits.

A Brief History of COVID Time @ OLG School :

  • August 13, 2020
    • School Starts
    • Distance learning format
    • Zoom and smiles
    • Zoom and frustrations
    • Teachers available from 8:00-3:00 M-F
  • September, October
    • Distance learning continues as students, parents and teachers work hard together
      • Hard working kids
      • A full school day 5 days a week…  School is in session
      • supportive parents
      • loving teachers
      • little kids that need to be together
  • November
    • TK, K, 1st and 2d return to campus
    • Those that choose to remain at home can now use Facebook Portal
    • Never been so happy, never been so tired.
      • Both students and teachers.
  • January
    • Use what worked, fix what didn’t
    • 3d and 4th grades return
  • late January to early February
    • Bigger kids need more space
    • 5th and 6th grades return
  • February
    • Each family decides when it is safe to return
    • TK and K are fully on campus
  • March 16
    • The big kids are returning
    •  7th Grade returns to the classroom
  • April 12
    • A full school means a school that is FULL
    • 8th Grade returns to the campus and classroom.
    • Welcome back students.

Someday, we will look back fondly on the school year 2020-2021.

For the Class of 2020, the school year 2019-2020 started out on a normal note. Well, not so normal, since they were the senior class of OLG School, an honor long in coming but earned.

They started out looking like a group at the end of a journey.. ready to start a new one.

Over the years, they were a class, making friends, becoming a family.

With the coming of March, they were asked to deal with life as no other class had been asked in the history of OLG School. They were asked to be students, to be friends, to be a family… from a distance.

It was hard for them… for their parents… for their families. The entire school was learning.. the entire country.. the entire world. And they did it. They learned. They stayed a class.. a family.

They have succeeded. They are Graduates. And as for the future? It is yours, Class of 2020!

We are so proud of you Class of 2020 !!!

The OLG School Board would like to make our first dedication for this site to Roger Lowe. Roger was a part of the Board that in 2019 voted to create this site.

What made his participation in the action so special, was that he was also a member of the first OLG School Board. And no, he didn’t serve continuously. No person could have that strength of constitution. He returned in 2016, being asked by Susan Anderson for his help as she assumed the reins of OLG School as Principal. He was the steadying force of the board as it supported the new principal’s vision and direction.

Roger passed away on Sunday, November 18, 2019. He was actively working on finance committee issues, facilities issues, and giving opinion and advice on countless other topics. Those of you who’ve known and loved Roger know that he always had lots of opinion and advice for us all.

Through the years, Roger has been a constant presence at both OLG school and OLG Parish. He and Liz, his wife, raised three children in the parish and sent them through OLG school, and on into adulthood.

Time passes quickly as we attend to business. Each day our lives change and are preserved as snapshots catching moments along the way…

.. till it is our little children’s children that find their ways into our moments and memories ..

.. finally allowing us a glimpse of full and wonderful lives.

Thank you Roger.

A Legacy is not built in a year, or 3. A Legacy grows, as does a strong tree from a seed. Planted in rich soils, nurtured, and with good fortune, receiving water and sunlight, till it grows strong to provide shade from hot suns and shelter from cold rains… a place to sit on a fine spring day.

The History and Legacy Committee and the OLG School Board are pleased to inaugurate the Legacy Dedication with a tribute to Susan Roberta Anderson. May she look at these memories with fondness along with her family, students, and the OLG School Community, past, present and future. [ May 1, 2022 ]

Legacy Dedication : Susan Anderson