MERRILLVILLE | The new principal at Andrean High School is prepped and ready to modernize the 59ers for the future.
Mary Beth Ginalski, former longtime principal at Ridge View Elementary School in Hobart, joined Andrean on Aug. 1.
"This is like coming home," Ginalski said recently.
This is her 29th year in education. She spent the first five years teaching in Catholic middle and high schools. Ginalski had been principal at Ridge View for 17 years.
"It was hard to leave but I really felt a draw to be here," she said, adding it was her freshman son Luke, who graduated eighth grade at Thomas More School in Munster and first made the choice to attend Andrean.
Ginalski said it has not been difficult to make the transition from public to private school or from elementary to high school because of her background and experience in both systems.
Ginalski said Andrean already offers a solid curriculum, including 13 Advanced Placement classes and 15 honors classes and dual-credit classes, that is, classes that also award college credit. She plans to restructure the curriculum and will introduce a culinary class, computer design, computer repair and two Project Lead the Way classes — engineering and biomedicine.
"We also have a recording studio in the building, and I'd like to offer a recording class," she said. "Band is offered during a zero-period prior to the start of school and I'd like to bring that back into the school day."
The school has six computer labs and students also are allowed to "bring their own device."
Ginalski has begun the year getting to know the students and teachers by visiting classrooms, and she said "we have an excellent group of teachers here."
Ginalski also has launched a campaign to raise $100,000 for several projects. Outlined on a flier to the community and Andrean families called "Kick Off to the Future," they include: funding an off-duty police officer to direct traffic on Broadway after school, new technology sources, a schoolwide camera system for the safety of all students, improvements in the main gym and cafeteria and lighting for the back parking lot.
Today, there are 582 students in grades nine through 12, 40 of whom attend the school through the state's voucher system. Vouchers allow parents to use public tax dollars to send their children to private schools.
Andrean is operated solely through tuition dollars. The tuition is $7,200 per student, per year. Ginalski said school administrators are looking at a slight increase but nothing has been decided yet.
"There is a tremendous amount of interest in attending Andrean," Ginalski said. "I suspect we'll have a waiting list to get into the school in just a few short years."
While there are no construction plans at this point, Ginalski said the school has plenty of room to grow on Broadway.
Ginalski replaced the Rev. Paul Quanz, who was the last of the Congregation of St. Basil ministers at the school, and had been there nearly 30 years, 18 as principal. Quanz resigned to become a diocesan priest with the Diocese of Gary.