School honors its principal

FAIRMONT – St. John Vianney students kicked off Catholic Schools Week with their 10th annual dinner dance Saturday night.

The school’s principal, Joan Schaffer, and her husband, Joe, received this year’s “Friends of St. John Vianney School” award, given annually to individuals whose donations of time, energy and funds to the school go above and beyond the norm.

“We were very humbled,” Joan Schaffer said.

About 160 guests attended the event, with fifth-graders filling in as servers for the night. The students served salads, desserts and beverages and cleared tables during the buffet.

The fifth- and sixth-grade choir sang at church services Sunday morning, but opening ceremonies scheduled for Monday were delayed until Tuesday, because of weather-related school cancellation.

Today will be pajama day, and on Friday students will have a picnic lunch on the cafeteria floor, followed by a beach party with volleyball, hula hoop and limbo contests.

Catholic Schools Week will culminate Friday with a family pizza meal at 5:30 p.m., followed by a variety show at 6:30 p.m.

What makes the fun-filled week of activities bittersweet for Schaffer is the knowledge that it will be her last Catholic Schools Week as head of St. John Vianney.

“I’m retiring,” she said.

Her husband is retiring at the end of February, and Joan Schaffer will finish the school term before joining him.

“This is a wonderful job,” she said about being the principal at the parochial school. “It is a calling. You don’t do it for the money.”

Schaffer has spent 14 years as St. John Vianney’s principal. She praises the “wonderful staff, faculty and families” for making her job easier.

“My faith has grown so much,” she said. “I wouldn’t change it for anything. These kids are just phenomenal. Obviously, it’s a great place to work.”