History of Saint Lawrence Elementary School
What follows is a brief synopsis of the history of the school.
In August, 1956, the late Archbishop Joseph P. Hurley, Bishop of St. Augustine, announced the establishment of St. Lawrence Parish, North Miami Beach. For several months, a temporary chapel and classroom facilities were provided in a vacant store on 163rd Street. With the assistance of Monsignor Rowan Rastatter, then Pastor of Holy Family Parish, a four classroom portable school building was completed on our grounds in February, 1957. That building later became the school cafeteria, and currently houses the St. Lawrence Child Care . At that time, Father Hubert J. Sweeney, C. P. was appointed Pastor pro-tem, and the school was under the direction of the Benediction Sisters, with Sister Rosanna, O. S. B. as principal.
In 1960, Bishop Carroll dedicated the new St. Lawrence Church, School, and Convent.
In 1971, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary left St. Lawrence School, and the Rev. Vincent J. Sheehy, Pastor of St. Lawrence, invited the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, from Monroe, Michigan to become established in the parish. The school had a non – Catholic, lay principal, Mrs. Blanche Freeman for a time, and the Sisters, at the request of Fr. Sheehy, took on the task of teaching religion in the school and in the C.C.D. Program.
The Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary moved into the convent, and for the next twelve years, conducted St. Lawrence School.
Two years later, in 1973, one of the sisters became principal, and by 1975, the school had once again taken on the characteristics of a parochial school. Monsignor Francis Fazzalaro was Pastor, and Sr. Frances Papp, as principal, led the initial accreditation of the school in 1976.
Sr. Gabrieline Wagener, Sr. Jane Shea, and Sr. Carolyn Dowd directed the school through the next decade of growth and improvement with dedication and commitment.
Fr. Roger Holoubek, Pastor brought changes to the parish and school when he renovated the church and parish hall in the 1980’s. Mr. Joseph Greenwell served as principal of the school from 1987 through 1992, during which time he inspired both strong parent involvement and a loving community spirit.
The school crest, which was the winning design submitted by middle school student Manny Occhiogrosso in a school-wide competition, was incorporated into the school letterhead at this time.
During Mr. Greenwell’s administration, the St. Lawrence Child Care Center, a pre-school, was established. This facility has always been operated separately from the elementary school, following HRS guidelines. The first director, Mrs. MaryAnn Hines was succeeded by Mrs. Iliana Medolla, who is the current director.
The St. Lawrence Child Care Center serves as a feeder for the St. Lawrence kindergarten.
Miss Rita Grannen brought her extensive experience and administrative expertise to St. Lawrence as principal from 1992 through 1995, leading the school through its next re-accreditation, and continuing emphasis on the development of the whole child.
Mrs. Virginia Hutton, a spiritual principal dedicated to growth and excellence, led the school for the next two years, through 1997.
Mrs. Dian Smith Lopez Hyatt, who was a long time teacher and assistant principal at St. Lawrence, became principal in 1997. She has continued to lead the school in this capacity for over ten years, encouraging a spirit of harmony not only among the diverse population of the school, but also among the parish entities.
The standards for professionalism, and the school’s sense of pride, fostered under this administration, are evidenced by the school’s motto, “where faith and learning grow hand in hand,” which was created by the eighth grade during the 2000-01 accreditation. The school prides itself on its academic excellence, provided in a caring, family-centered atmosphere.