St. Martha's dedicates new rooms and playground

A trio of young girls is pictured in the new transitional kindergarten room

Not one, not two, but three ribbons were cut recently at St. Martha School to signify new additions to the Valinda school. Love of God Sister Azucena del Rio, principal, assisted in the official ribbon cutting with philanthropist John Shea, whose charitable foundation made the new additions possible. Students, faculty, staff, parents and alumni gathered for an earlier presentation to the Shea Family which featured songs, prayers and words of appreciation.

“One, two, three, there we go!” said Sister del Rio at the first ribbon cutting stop, which was located in front of the new computer lab. St. Martha pastor, Father Mauricio Goloran, entered the room and blessed the space including the 30 new touch screen computers, which now sets St. Martha on the technical track forward in education.

“Before we had very old computers and our Internet was down so much it was hard for the children to work on them,” said fourth grade teacher Aneli Quintanilla. “It was very frustrating.”

Last October, Sister del Rio – who has been at the school for 20 years – decided to contact the Shea Foundation and wrote a letter (not an email, but a stamped and enveloped letter) outlining the school’s technological infrastructure and other building needs. Two weeks later, she received an email that her request would be granted. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “It was so very exciting.”

Work began after Christmas last year on converting the old computer lab and updating it with Internet capabilities. But the lab wasn’t the only high-tech addition to the school – each teacher received an iPad as well as a cart that contained 30 iPads for students. Now, students can log on at the computer lab or in their classrooms, depending on the subject.

For teachers like Quintanilla, those options made her feel like a kid in a candy store — overwhelmed with possibilities. Over the summer, the faculty received instruction on how to incorporate the new technology into their classrooms with professional development at Loyola Marymount. “We also got a lot of help from teachers at our neighboring schools, especially St. Genevieve,” she said. “They gave us lots of tips on how to especially use the iPads.”

But the computer lab was just the beginning of the new additions at the school. After a quick tour of the facility, Sister del Rio escorted Shea to the next stop: the Transitional Kindergarten (TK) room. Bright with color, drawings and posters, the TK room hardly resembles its former life as the old school library, said Sister del Rio. Shelves were dismantled and books were distributed among the grade rooms to create the space for the youngest of students on campus.

The program is just in its first year – 24 are enrolled in the program that gives students, according to TK teacher Claudia Gutierrez, “a strong foundation emotionally and socially.”

While the students learn ABC’s, numbers, colors and shapes, the focus of the TK room is to introduce students to “everyday life at school” as well as “the skills they will need to grow up and get along with each other,” said Gutierrez.

As the students ate their snack at shaded picnic tables, they were eyeing another new area that they would get to use a little later in the day – the playground, another gift courtesy of the Shea Foundation.

Slides, climbing structures, soft padding and covered with a fabric canopy, the playground will be used by TK’ers and kindergarteners who need time in between lessons to run around and stretch out their legs.

The kindergarten is also a relatively new entity at the school – it’s now in its third year and Sister del Rio says that parents are “elated” with being able to send their young children to the school. In fact, she strongly believes that the addition of the TK, kindergarten and computer lab will increase enrollment.

Father Goloran also sees new additions from the Shea Foundation as a way for students to understand the power of generosity and the gift of kindness. It was important for them, he said, to see and meet Shea in person.

“The manifestation of God is when we encounter the kindness of heart of a living person,” he said. “We bring the students together so that they would understand that God works through human persons…they need to see that these good things just don’t come down from the sky. They come about because of someone’s kindness.”


Seeking the face of God in the Scriptures

Archbishop José H. Gomez

Prayer is seeking the face of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls the story of how St. John Vianney once found a peasant praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The saint asked him what he was doing, and the man replied: “I look at him and he looks at me.”


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February 13, 2016

  • Saturday, February 13

    World Day of the Sick Mass, Mass and Anointing of the Sick, 12:30 p.m., Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,  555 W Temple St, Los Angeles. Archbishop Gomez presiding with other bishops and priests. Special section designated for those in wheelchairs with volunteers available to help. Limited parking available for $8. Carpooling is encouraged. For more info: Chuck Huebner at cjhuebner or Jim LoCoco at



    Bosco Tech’s Yurak Memorial Run & Kids’ Fun Run, Check in begins at 8 a.m., Memorial Run at 9 a.m., Fun Run at 10 a.m., Bosco Tech, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead. Race registration is $35 per person. For school groups of 10 or more, the cost is $30. To register online, go to or; same-day registration available at check-in table. Included: racing fees, finisher medal, goodie bag and BBQ lunch. Plaques will be awarded to the top five male and female runners and to the fastest runner under 18.All proceeds to benefit Bosco Tech’s Yurak Athletic Center (YAC). 


    Cabrini Literary Guild “Sweetheart Bingo” Meeting, Sat., Feb.13 at Oakmont Country Club, 3100 Country Club Drive, Glendale. Meeting starts at 11 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m. ($30/person), and bingo social at 1 p.m. Bingo cards are $5 each, or $20 for five cards. For reservations, call (818) 790-3485.


    Footprints: Making Tracks for Neighbors in Need, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m., Bishop Amat High School track, 14301 Fairgrove Ave., La Puente. Catholic Charities San Gabriel Region will present this annual walk/run fundraiser to increase awareness about poverty, hunger and homelessness in the San Gabriel Region. Proceeds benefit those lacking basic needs, such as food, clothing, transportation and shelter. This is a come anytime, leave anytime event, with the first lap around the track to be led by Bishop David O'Connell. For more information, visit or contact Mary Romero at (213) 251-3582 or

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