By John Sacco
INDIANA — What Emily Marshall remembers most about St. Bernard Regional Catholic School is the attention received from her teachers and the closeness and friendliness of everyone in the school.
Marshall, 19, is a freshman studying music education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She plans to teach students in kindergarten through grade 12.
After attending elementary and middle school at St. Bernard, Marshall attended Homer Center High School, graduating last year.
“One of the things I always talk about is the stark contrast between each school,” Marshall said. “At St. Bernard, I was in class with maybe seven people. There were about 100 kids in the school. At Homer Center, I had 80 in my (graduating) class and a total of roughly 450 in the school.”
Marshall recalls how close she and her friends were at St. Bernard.
“We were given a lot of opportunities there,” she said. “I think what we learned there helped give us opportunities as we got older.
“Those relationships carried on. Homer Center was incredible as well. I built some great relationships there.
“At St. Bernard I truly know everyone there deeply cared about what I was learning. They presented me with so many great opportunities,” she said. “Beyond the base learning, I made board games. I made my own special presentations. Because of that, I have much more confidence, especially now as a college student. Being allowed to communicate there, I know I was given the best help in every class I took there.”
Marshall said her time at St. Bernard afforded her the chance to stay connected to her faith.
“We prayed before school, before lunch and in our religion classes,” she said. “I’d go into religion classes and openly talk about my faith and listen to others do the same. Those hourlong talks did a lot in building relationships and associations. All of it helped shape me into who I am today.”
Marshall said she developed her love of music at St. Bernard. She credits her music teachers, music classes and an enrichment program for bringing out her best.
“I chose band and musical ensemble in fourth grade. From there I really nurtured my musical education and focus,” she said.
Marshall said another highlight for her was being able to help out in Masses and with Diocesan programs.
“I was altar server, lector, cantor and sacristan,” she said. “I feel I was more than prepared to move forward in my education, spiritually and socially, because of all the things I had a chance to do and to be.”
Marshall said she was anxious when she left St. Bernard for Homer Center High School.
“We were so relaxed at St. Bernard. But there was always a schedule. My teachers (at St. Bernard’s) told me I would flourish in high school and that I was ready,” she said. ““I left St. Bernard in a really good spot. I had to find a new crowd to hang out with. I found I could connect with everyone. I was expecting cliques, but that never materialized. I was surprised by it and excited.”
Marshall says the teachers at St. Bernard remain a part of her.
“I take a little bit of all of them and think how I will be as a teacher and use what and how they taught me,” she said.
“I would send my kids to St. Bernard if I have them. The school does make a difference. Just about every St. Bernard kid from when I was there who went on to Homer Center did something special in high school.
“I encourage people to look to a Catholic education — not only from the Catholic aspect but also the enrichment a child receives and the friendships that are made. It really sets one up for success at a young age.”