St. Anthony School, first school constructed
in diocese in 50 years blessed, dedicated in Madison
By Fabvienen Taylor
MADISON — “This is a beautiful and exciting time for the Diocese of Jackson,” said Bishop Joseph Latino about the Sunday, Aug. 9, dedication of St. Anthony School in Madison, the first Catholic school constructed in 50 years in the diocese.
“It comes unfortunately at a time when some of our schools are experiencing financial distress. I want to congratulate the St. Anthony and St. Francis of Assisi communities on their decision to provide this Catholic school for our children and for their commitment to seeing that it is financially supported.
St. Anthony is one of the finest elementary schools I have seen in terms of its physical structure and design and its utilization of the latest technology available. It is a very inviting place for children to learn educationally and in their faith,” he said.
Msgr. Michael Flannery, St. Francis of Assisi pastor, said the dedication and blessing of St. Anthony “completed the last component of our educational system.
“We have had the Assisi Early Learning Center for over 25 years; St. Richard Elementary in Jackson has been there for us since the foundation of St. Francis to educate our grade school children and St. Joseph School provides our junior high and high school program.
“St. Anthony is now in a position to provide the missing link for us to complete our education program,” he said.
“As a parish community at St. Francis we have longed for the dawning of this day. We are proud of our new principal, Angela Brunini, and the excellent faculty and staff she has chosen.”
On Tuesday, Aug. 11, St. Anthony School welcomed 163 students in grades pre-K4 to sixth grade.
“Everything has gone very well,” said Brunini, “very smoothly.”
From about 7:30 a.m. until nearly 8 a.m. Brunini, staff and volunteers helped children climb from their vehicles and enter the building on their way to their classrooms.
Plans were made for 120 students in the first year of school at St. Anthony, but the number had to be ratcheted up to 140 and then to 160, Brunini said.
“Next year we are expecting far more children and we will meet our maximum capacity sooner than the five years we planned for,” she said.
Brunini earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Millsaps College, a degree in reading specialty from Wake Forest University, and a master’s in education administration from Seton Hall University,
She has been an educator in Hinds, Rankin and Madison counties, and in North Carolina and Vermont.
Brunini has worked as an educational consultant for reading and arts integration across the United States and served as an administrator with the Jackson diocese for over six years.
Angela and John Brunini are St. Francis of Assisi parishioners and have four children, Jack, Will, Alex and Anna Catherine.
Brunini said St. Anthony teachers average 15 years of experience and over 75 percent have master’s degrees or higher.
St. Anthony is located at 1585 Old Mannsdale Road, adjacent to St. Joseph School.
The school building is a 47,000-sq. ft. facility with 16 state-of-the-art classrooms.
It was designed by J. Carl Franco of JH&H Architects of Jackson, and built by Malouf Construction.
There is a covered pick-up and drop-off area at the entrance to the building, a chapel with stained glass windows depicting the Stations of the Cross, a library with a reading loft and outdoor courtyard, and a multi-purpose gymnasium/auditorium with a raised stage.
There are special classrooms for art, science labs and discovery centers, a computer/technology lab and a cafeteria with natural light.
There is also a playground area and a playing field for outdoor activities.
In addition to traditional academic subjects St. Anthony provides spiritual formation and the teaching and practices of the Catholic faith.
Every room in the building contains a San Damiano cross and a quote from Scripture.
“Whatever space you are in you feel the presence of Jesus, whether it is our St. Anthony statue, or the San Damiano cross or a quote from Scripture,” Brunini said.
“Every room has something that lets us know this is a Christian environment.
“A fine line has been drawn in creating a nurturing environment and pairing it with all the state of the art technology and resources we have here,” she said.
“At St. Anthony’s we have created a spacious, safe environment where children will want to grow in many ways, not just academically but spiritually and morally.”
She said a community of parishioners, staff, parents, children, St. Joseph School students, and the construction crew worked together to make St. Anthony a reality.
“It was a total community effort which was so wonderful to see and to be a part of,” said Brunini.