SMS Families of the Month 2017-18 School Year

The Saint Michael School May 2018 Family of the Month is the Leigh Family of Independence.

The St. Michael School May 2018 Family of the Month is the Leigh family of Independence.


Maggie and Matt Leigh have two SMS Blue Angels, seventh-grader Owen and fourth-grader Gabe.


Owen has been involved in CYO Basketball, Advanced and Jazz Band, Drama Club, Science Olympiad, altar servers, and Bowling Club. Gabe has been a part of the CYO Basketball team and Beginner Band. Both boys were active in Cub Scouts for several years.


Maggie and Matt chose SMS for their boys because of the welcoming community and their growing awareness of the educational value the school offered through its positive, challenging, and faith-based curriculum. When describing the impact St. Michael has had on their children, they said, “The boys enjoy going to school. They look to their teachers as positive role models. St. Michael promotes a value we share for education – to become a life-long learner.” They also stated, “We also appreciate the focus on thinking of those in need and consistent participation in Mass and prayer services throughout the school year.”


When telling others about St. Michael School, they credit our wonderful pastor, saying, “St. Michael is the right learning environment for our children. As St. Michael parishioners, Fr. Pete welcomed us, and his love for both the church and school community, teachers and staff is evident.” They continue, “We’ve shared with others the positive impact the split campus [with St. Basil] brings and the benefit it has on the students and families as they begin their St. Michael educational experience. “


Finally, the Leigh family is proud to represent St. Michael School through both on-campus events and extracurriculars. “As parents, we enjoy volunteering our time and energy with other St. Michael families. This community of SMS families has become near and dear to our entire family through the friendships we have built over the years. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and the St. Michael family has been a wonderful community to continue this journey with our children.”

The Saint Michael School April 2018 Family of the Month is the Kolar Family of Garfield Heights.

Bryan Kolar is the parent of two SMS Blue Angels—fourth grader Addison and second grader Brayden. 


Addison has been a member of the St. Michael basketball team for the past two years and was a member of the band. Brayden will play basketball for the school next year, and both have played sports in Independence recreational leagues.


The Kolar family is proud to be a part of the SMS community because of the friendly environment it offers. “Our family was warmly welcomed by the staff, students and families when we transferred from John Paul II Academy after its closing.”


Bryan selected SMS for his children because of the Catholic education, friendly atmosphere, higher standards of education, advanced technology, and the chance to partake in extracurricular activities at school and in the community.


Later, he recognized the impact the SMS community has had on his children. He said, “St Michael School has made a difference by giving them a place to receive a quality education in a nurturing environment, to learn about and grow their faith in God, and to maintain and create new friendships. There are endless opportunities the children have inside the classroom (computer technology and band for example) and outside the classroom (clubs, athletics, and PTU events).”

The Saint Michael School March 2018 Family of the Month is the Ward Family of Walton Hills.

Arthur and Dawn Ward are the parents of one current SMS Blue Angel, seventh grader Ava. They also have one incoming kindergartener, Archer, and class of 2017 SMS graduate Arthur (Trey), who is currently a freshman at Padua Franciscan High School.


The Wards are a proud SMS family because the school prepares their children for high school and promotes a community of individuals that cares for one another.


According to the family, the faculty at SMS has made a particular impact on their children’s lives. “The teachers at St. Michael School are invested in our children’s education and learning about their faith,” said Arthur and Dawn. “They meet the students where they are at, whether they need extra tutoring in a subject or challenged to go further.”


Arthur and Dawn chose St. Michael School for their children because they wanted their children to have a strong Catholic-based education that offered many opportunities for extracurricular activities.


The Ward children have been involved in Cooking Club, Chess Club, Science Club, Cub Scouts, and Girls Scouts. Ava currently participates in Advanced Band, Jazz Band, Pen Ohio, and Drama Club.


Arthur and Dawn describe how St. Michael School has made a difference for their children. “SMS has a challenging, well-rounded curriculum.  Our children have had opportunities in the classroom, on field trips, and during extracurricular activities to expand their knowledge base and make lifelong friends. They have grown in their faith and as members of the Catholic community.”

The Saint Michael School February 2018 Family of the Month is the Polzella Family of Seven Hills.

Angelo and Diane Polzella have one SMS Blue Angel, seventh grader Anthony.


They chose St. Michael School for their son because of the rigorous, structured academics based on the Common Core and STEM. “St. Michael actually goes above and beyond other schools by incorporating art and religion into STEM.  St. Michael School is faith-based, not only teaching our children about the Catholic faith, but also about character education – such as respect, responsibility, and kindness,” said Angelo and Diane. “The students at St. Michael School have the opportunity to work with a tremendous variety of technology.” They cited Smart Boards, laptops, desktops, Chromebooks, iPads, and the school-wide broadcast program as examples.


Additionally, the Polzella’s made note of the class sizes and extracurricular opportunities provided by the school. “The student to teacher ratio allows personal attention with smaller classes.  St. Michael School has a wonderful Parent Teacher Union that supports the school community and builds friendships among the families,” they said. “St. Michael School offers classes in art, music, and foreign language, as well as a wide variety of clubs, extracurricular activities, and sports.”


Anthony is currently involved in the Graphic Design Club and has been a part of the Science Club and the Gifted Program in the past.


In particular, Angelo, Diane, and Anthony feel that the faculty and staff make SMS a school to be proud of. “It is very evident that the staff of St. Michael School does what they do, not just as their profession, but as their passion.  The staff truly cares for each and every child.  They create an atmosphere where students feel safe and are encouraged to always do their best,” remarked Angelo and Diane. “The staff of St. Michael School is very dedicated.  You feel a sense of family when you are part of the SMS community.  We have had a positive experience at SMS since the first day of preschool.”


When asked about the difference St. Michael School has made in the lives of their children, Angelo and Diane said, “St. Michael has made a huge difference for our child. We feel he has gained a strong academic background that has prepared him for high school.  He has grown in his faith through daily Religion lessons, weekly Masses, and service projects.  He has made many friends during his time at St. Michael School.”

The Saint Michael School January 2018 Family of the Month is the Gallucci Family of Independence.


Joe and Kelly Gallucci currently have three SMS Blue Angels–eighth grader Grace, sixth grader Gianna, and third grader Genna.



The Gallucci family chose St. Michael School for their children primarily because of the Catholic education. “We love the fact that we can openly talk about Jesus and that we can say proudly Merry Christmas unlike other schools,” said Joe and Kelly. Additionally, “The dress code is awesome.  Uniforms are perfect for three girls.”


The Gallucci family has been a part of the St. Michael community for 10 years. “It’s hard to put into words all the transformations we’ve experienced.  We’ve built and grown our faith on so many levels.  And, we’ve made so many friends.  We’ll have many memories that will last a lifetime.  Quite frankly, it’s going to be so hard for us emotionally when Grace, our 8th grader, leaves SMS at the end of the year.”


The school community is a topic the Gallucci family is sure to mention when talking about St. Michael. “We comment on the camaraderie of the SMS families and we love that our school friends are also our church friends,” stated the family. “The teachers and staff at St. Basil and St. Michael are amazing and helpful.  Recently, we’ve raved about the 8th grade retreat and what a positive relationship-building event it was (which is very helpful with teens).”


Joe, Kelly, and their girls are proud to be an SMS family, especially because of how it has helped their family grow spiritually. “SMS has given our family faith-based building blocks to help us navigate through our journeys in this crazy world,” said Kelly and Joe.  “We love that the kids get to go to Mass every week (in addition to Sundays). And, they learn every day how God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are in our lives.  These are seeds that will grow for a life time and this is priceless.”


The Gallucci girls are active in the school community outside class. Grace is currently involved in Drama Club and has participated in volleyball, cheerleading, bowling, and Girl Scouts in the past. Gianna is currently involved in basketball, Drama Club, and track. In the past, she has participated in K-Kids, Builders Club, Jump Rope Club, and Rosary Club. Genna’s activities include volleyball, cheerleading, K-Kids, and Girl Scouts.

The Saint Michael School December 2017 Family of the Month is the Ziccardi Family of Brecksville.


Mike and Elissa Ziccardi currently have three SMS Blue Angels, sixth grader Olivia, fourth-grader Michael, and second grader Gabby.


The Ziccardi family chose St. Michael School after hearing another SMS family share how St. Michael School had impacted their children’s lives after Mass at St. Basil the Great. Small class sizes, faith-based education, passionate and qualified educators, campus structure, and the close-knit community fostered by the school seemed to be the perfect fit for their family.


Mike and Elissa state, “Keeping in line with a faith-based education, St. Michael School has helped our children to have a well-rounded, conscious approach to learning in the classroom, and maneuvering with social awareness and compassion in a rapidly changing society. The technology that our children have access to in the school, and as a learning tool to utilize programs such as Google classroom outside of school, boosts their abilities to problem solve, work as a team, and communicate with their teachers on a regular basis.” Additionally, they say friendships and opportunities provided by the school are valued educational features. “We feel this has made our children more willing to try to new things, and to involve and encourage others that may be trying something for the first time, whether it’s a school-sponsored club or a CYO sport.”


The Ziccardi children have engaged in many opportunities provided by the school. Olivia is involved in Liturgical Council, Kiwanis Builder’s Club, School Choir, Advanced Band, Jazz Band, Jump Rope Club, Drama Club, Bowling Club, and CYO cross country, basketball, and track & field. Michael participates in Rosary Club, Kiwanis K-Kids, School Choir, Beginner’s Band, Jump Rope Club, Science Club, CYO cross country, basketball, and track & field. Gabby is a part of Rosary Club, Kiwanis K-Kids, Girl Scouts (Brownies), Jump Rope Club, and CYO cross country.


“We are proud to be an SMS family because of the focus on faith-based educational practices,” said Mike and Elissa. “In addition to teaching our children to care for others with kindness, the school values service to others as demonstrated in the classrooms, weekly mass, and many extracurricular school activities. Our kids feel safe and supported, and are challenged daily by compassionate educators.”

The Saint Michael School November 2017 Family of the Month is the Ciccolini Family of Garfield Heights.


Ignazio and Kathleen Ciccolini currently have two SMS Blue Angels, eighth graders Angelo and Carmela.

Angelo and Carmela are both involved in Power of the Pen, Science Olympiad, and Drama Club. Additionally, Carmela is on the Liturgical Council.

The Ciccolini family has been part of the St. Michael School community for three years and has found the faculty, staff, students, and families to be very welcoming. “The leadership sets the tone for a positive, respectful, structured, and nurturing environment conductive to learning and growth,” said Ignazio and Kathleen. “When we drop off Angelo and Carmela at SMS, they continue in faith, values, and expected behaviors toward self and others in line with our own.”

Ignazio and Kathleen say Catholic education, effective school leadership, variety of activities offered, opportunities for involvement, and safety as central reasons for choosing to send their children to St. Michael School. The family says that “SMS is a great school with a friendly atmosphere. The faculty and staff truly care about the children.”

St. Michael School has made a difference for their children. “Angelo and Carmela continue to be engaged in all aspects of their journey at SMS,” state the Ciccolinis. “It isn’t one thing that makes SMS great, it’s many different things that work together.”

The Saint Michael School October 2017 Family of the Month is the Frank Family of Brecksville.


Jim and Holly Frank currently have one SMS Blue Angel, fifth-grader Gabrielle.


“Gabrielle has received a great education. She has made lots of friends and loves the learning environment and teachers. She is devoted to her Catholic Faith and enjoys going to church and reading the bible. She is also learning the importance of service and giving of oneself for others,” said Jim and Holly.


Gabrielle is involved in volleyball, cheerleading, Jump Rope Club and Jump Rope for the Heart. Since 2nd grade, Gabrielle has raised the most money for the Jump Rope for the Heart Charity Event. Additionally, Holly coaches the cheerleading team and Jim coached the 2016 football team.


When asked why SMS was chosen as the school for their daughter, the Franks cited the desire for “a faith-based education and a Catholic School where she could receive her sacraments.” They are proud of small class sizes, individual attention from teachers who care, respectful students and great families, and PTU and CYO sports programs.

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Independence, OH  44131


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