School Highlight: St. Agatha School, Upper Arlington, Ohio

St. Agatha School is a K-8 Catholic school in the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio. Here’s a bit about their history, mission and philosophy, their activities and programs, and what makes them special.

Brief history of the school

St. Agatha was founded in 1941 and is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

The school was honored with its first blue ribbon in 1985 and then again in 2000. In 2015 it was one of 14 schools in Ohio to be awarded the distinction—and the only private school to win the award in the state.

With a mission of “enthusiasm for learning and love of God,” an impressive 80 percent of St. Agatha’s teachers have their master’s degrees; one even has his Ph.D.

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School mission statement and statement of philosophy


St. Agatha School promotes academic excellence and fosters spiritual growth and social responsibility. In partnership with parents, church, and community, we nurture enthusiasm for learning and love of God.

Statement of philosophy:

St. Agatha School is committed to excellence in education. Our school exists for the purpose of educating our students spiritually, socially, and academically. St. Agatha School attempts to fulfill these goals by:

Teaching the message revealed by God;

Showing the students effective ways of using their Christian faith to grow personally and outwardly in their community;

Using Christian values to foster social development and community service;

Challenging each student to strive for his or her own level of academic excellence.

An outstanding and unique characteristic of Catholic schools is the integration of Christian values into daily life.

What makes your school special?

St. Agatha School is regarded as one of the best elementary schools in the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio. Our graduates excel in high school and onward as demonstrated by their academic accomplishments and their service to others.

With the declining enrollment in many Catholic schools in the United States, St. Agatha has taken a proactive step and spent the last five years working on a strategic plan. One of the goals is to enhance St. Agatha’s Catholic identity in every facet of the school’s daily educational and extracurricular programming.

Many new ideas have been implemented, such as a “Mass with me,” where each month a class is highlighted to participate and plan the liturgy, and parents and grandparents are invited to attend. After Mass the students and parents gather for fellowship, donuts, and juice in the parish hall.

Additionally St. Agatha Virtue Club meets after school. The group provides additional teaching on the virtues, saints, and Scripture. This year the program will be offered during the school day so all students can participate in this fun and educational faith-based enrichment program.

Other programs offered are enrichment for parents on the faith, including an evening called “Parent’s ROCK” (Raising Our Catholic Kids) and the Middle School Showcase, which highlights local Catholic high school principals who speak on the importance of Catholic education.

Speakers were also brought in to share the Catholic faith. Fr. Leo Patalinghug shared his faith and gave a martial arts demonstration, and Lisa Hendey spoke to the younger grades about being an author and talked about her new Chime Travelers children’s book series.

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What is the best thing about being part of your school community?

Our school has a very wonderful sense of community that is palpable when you enter the doors. It is always welcoming and supportive of all our members. The teachers go the extra mile with the students and are always available for extra help or to meet with both students and parents.

Michele Faehnle shares her experience:

“I felt the strength of this community when my son was hospitalized four years ago. His class, as well as the teachers and principal, came to visit, which really helped with his recovery. They decorated his room with a Christmas tree, ornaments, and cards, and they even made him a video telling him how much they missed him.”

The school as a whole went the extra mile to support Faehnle’s son in his illness. When he returned to school in a wheelchair and a walker, the school community provided all the extra help he needed.

Last year the school lost a teacher at the end of the school year. She passed away suddenly after teaching that day. It was amazing to see the support of the entire school for her family and the students who were so sad to have lost their teacher. The day after school ended for the year, the church was packed for her funeral.

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What programs has your school held in the last year? Tell us a bit about them.

St. Agatha students thrive in a service-oriented environment, participating in activities to share the message of Christ. Service activities enhance classroom learning, help our students become community-minded, and promote volunteerism as a lifelong commitment.

Serving at soup kitchens, participating in Adopt-a-Family, reading and donating to community centers, and being involved in buddy programs with the elderly are just some of our character-building service projects. Last year the students worked on a number of community service projects, including collecting shoes for a school in Haiti, organizing a food drive for a food pantry in Vinton County, volunteering for Meals on Wheels, and participating in “Pride Packs,” which focuses on various social, educational, and service activities that promote bonding and community.

Extracurricular activities include chess club; fall, winter, spring, and summer sports; ski club; tennis clinics; animation club; Scouts; Battle of the Books; middle school musical; service opportunities; student council; band; science; history projects; and outdoor education opportunities for students in grades six, seven, and eight.

School information:

St. Agatha School
1860 Northam Road
Upper Arlington, OH 43220
(614) 488-9000