Shrine Catholic Grade School to Feature New Preschool, Celebrate 75th Anniversary at Upcoming Open House

Shrine Catholic Grade School to Feature New Preschool, Celebrate 75th Anniversary at Upcoming Open House

It isn’t just an ordinary open house at Shrine Catholic Grade School this year. When the school hosts its annual event, it will also be looking back at a historic anniversary while also ushering in the future.

Shrine is holding its annual open house for new families on Thursday, Feb. 9 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The event is an opportunity to introduce new families and future new students to the school, located on 12 Mile and Woodward in the heart of Royal Oak.

“We look forward to our annual open house each year,” said Katie Fotiu, Shrine Grade School principal. “We enjoy meeting new families but we love seeing the delight on the faces of the children who visit us that evening. Seeing them walk through the big school and meet our teachers and parents is what this event is all about. The excitement and joy can be felt throughout our whole building — from our art room to our gym to our science lab.”

This year, Shrine is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its first graduating class. This historic anniversary demonstrates Shrine’s commitment to an outstanding academic experience coupled with a faith-based education. A Shrine education begins in pre-school, continues to kindergarten, grade school, academy and then high school.

But Shrine is also looking towards the future.  The school has been known for its pre-school program but that program had limitations in both size and programs options. The school just didn’t have enough room to meet all the needs of the community.

“We’ve been listening to our visitors who need a full-day preschool for their 3-year-old or those who want a junior kindergarten for their young 5-year-old. Many people came to us asking about after care options,” Fotiu said. “We wanted to meet their needs but just couldn’t.”

Until now. At this year’s open house, Shrine will be displaying and talking about plans for its new six-classroom Early Childhood Center. The facility will be constructed on the Shrine Grade School campus this summer and will be complete in time for the 2017-18 school year.

Shrine’s Early Childhood Center will include six all-new classrooms with state-of-the-art with integrated restrooms, sinks and refrigerators along with books, puzzles, educational toys and developmental tools. The facility will also feature an outdoor area with a climbing structure, bike path, and activity boards for outdoor gross motor play.

Programs at the Early Childhood Center include flexible options for 3- and 4-year old students along with young 5-year olds and students who need a bit of extra time before going to kindergarten. Parents who are looking for after care for their children will find flexible options staffed by a team focused solely on the center.

“At Shrine we strongly believe in combining early academics with a welcoming and loving environment,” said Jennifer Bero, Shrine assistant principal. “We structure our pre-school and junior kindergarten program to get our students ready for grade school while giving them the opportunity to play, explore art and build social skills.”

Leigh Davidson, a longtime elementary school teacher, will lead the teaching team as the director of the Early Childhood Center. Davidson has more than 20 years of early-childhood experience including preschool teaching and holds a Masters in Special Education from Oakland University with an Autism Spectrum Disorder Endorsement. She has been a part of the Shrine faculty since 2011 and has taught second grade for the last five years.

“I hope parents who are looking for an academic yet loving pre-school program will come and visit me on Feb. 9,” said Davidson. “I’d love to meet them and hear about their needs for a program.”

Davidson, Fotiu, Bero, the entire Shrine teaching staff and volunteer parents will welcome new families during the Open House. Stationed in their classrooms, teachers will discuss curriculum and activities with parents and new students. Visitors will learn about Math Club, S.T.E.M. Explorers, the student choir and the many other Shrine activities that start in grade school and continue throughout high school. Representatives from Boy and Girls Scouts, sports teams, drama and band will also be on hand. Parents can also meet a team from Shrine Academy and High School including James Mio, Shrine High School and Academy principal.

“The Shrine experience starts in pre-school and ends with graduation from high school,” said Mio. “While this is a grade school open house we like to start talking about our academy and high school from day one. We have an academic program that sees 100 percent of our students being accepting to college and an extra curriculum program that has more than 90 percent of students participating in a sports or fine and performing arts activity. We are proud of this and love to talk about it every chance we get.”

For information on the New Family Open House or to learn more about Shrine Catholic Grade School, please contact Jennifer Bero at or visit

About Shrine Catholic Schools and National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica

Shrine Catholic Schools are parish schools of the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak, Michigan. Founded in 1934, the schools provide a co-educational Christ-centered learning environment for Pre-K through 12th grade, with a focus on excellence in college preparatory education as well as extracurricular activities and many after-school programs and clubs. The National Shrine of the Little Flower, named a minor Basilica in 2015 by Pope Francis, was founded in 1926 and serves a parish of approximately 4,200 families in and throughout the Metro-Detroit area. For more information, visit


Media Contact: Meg Armstrong

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