NativityMiguel middle school opens on Marywood campus


The right-wing on the first floor of the Liberal Arts Center will have four classrooms and an administrative office. The former “First Stop” location will be the school’s lunchroom. Photo credit: Briana Ryan

Briana Ryan

Students at NativityMiguel School of Scranton not only began the first day of class on Sept. 9, but also their first day at Marywood University.

NativityMiguel is a private Catholic middle school for students in grades 5th through 8th. The middle school is an independent body from the Scranton School District and Scranton Diocese.

NativityMiguel Business Office Manager Carmela Smith said the school relocated from its former Knox Road location in Scranton to Marywood’s campus because of spacing issues.

“We have 59 students in our school, and we want to give them the best education we can,” said Smith. “So, we decided that it would be beneficial for the students and teachers to be able to learn and teach in larger classrooms.”

During the search for a new location, NativityMiguel officials reached out to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) congregation who also sponsors the middle school. In turn, the IHM congregation connected the middle school to another school the congregation sponsors, Marywood University.

Through benefactors, all students who attend NativityMiguel receive a full scholarship valued at $8,500 per year. However, families do pay a quarterly fee totaling $150.

Students who apply to NativityMiguel must demonstrate strong academics, attendance and discipline records. Prospective students also undergo an interview and an entrance exam. All students who apply to NativityMiguel must also financially qualify for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

“We have students that come from low income families, so I think this will be really inspiring for a lot of our students to attend a middle school at a university and see what can become possible when they work hard,” said Smith.

Since July, Grimm Construction and Urban Electric has been working on transforming the right wing of the first floor of the Liberal Arts Center into a middle school with four classrooms and an administrative office. The former “First Stop” location is also being remodeled to be used as the school’s lunchroom.

During NativityMiguel’s summer session from July 8 to Aug. 7, teachers held classes in the McGowan Center for Graduate and Professional Studies building while construction was beginning in the Liberal Arts Center.

All renovations made to the right wing were paid for by the middle school. NativityMiguel also pays rent to Marywood for allowing them to use the space.

Science and Math teacher Shelby Kresage said she is excited to start the new school year in a new location.

“With the science classes, I like to do a lot of hands on experiments with the students. So, this new location is going to be really helpful in giving us the space to do these activities,” said Kresage.

The addition of the middle school introduced a challenge in regards to scheduling rooms for Marywood classes.

“When we learned of NativityMiguel moving to Marywood, we began looking at creative solutions to classroom scheduling,” said Coordinator of Special Projects and Scheduling Support William Manley.

One solution was the Academic Excellence Center on the second floor of the Liberal Arts Center was converted into a classroom. Also a classroom in the Sheilds Center for Studio Arts was once used only by students from the art department but now it is being used for classes outside of the department.

While classes are in session, the door connecting the right wing and the Liberal Arts Center Rotunda is locked. A second entrance to the middle school located at the end of the right wing will also remain locked unless permission is granted by a school official to the person trying to enter the middle school.

In August, NativityMiguel officials met with Campus Safety Chief Mike Pasqualicchio to discuss a fire emergency plan. Both parties agreed that the school would continue to use a plan instituted by Marywood.

The plan calls for students to evacuate from the nearest exit. From there students will meet at a rallying point in the Memorial Commons.

“If there were to be a fire emergency we would make sure that students from NativityMiguel are kept in a part of the rallying point location that is separate from Marywood students,” said Pasqualicchio.

Marywood President Sr. Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D. said she is looking forward to seeing the relationship between the university and the middle school grow.

“I think this will be a great opportunity not only for NativityMiguel but also for Marywood,” said Persico. “This will open up so many great opportunities for our students to do internships or student teaching.”

Assistant Professor of Architecture and Faculty Senate President Kate O’Connor said she believes its important for Marywood to make connections like the one with NativityMiguel.

“I love that Marywood is reaching out and broadening the diversity on campus,” said O’Connor. “I think it’s essential that Marywood continue to seek community connections such as the partnership with NativityMiguel to strengthen the bond within the surrounding communities.”

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Twitter: @BrianaRyanTWW