Maria Artero Catholic Preschool & Kindergarten celebrates 50th Anniversary

256

For the Umatuna Si Yu’os

On Oct. 17, 1967, the Mercedarian Missionaries of Berriz opened a school under the name of Maria Artero Day Nursery. It was through the generosity of Maria C. Artero that the Mercedarian Sisters acquired the house and property under the terms of her will; hence in gratitude to her and in memory of her, the nursery bears her name.

The Mercedarian Sisters had been in the different islands of Micronesia since 1926 when mission schools were established in Saipan and Ponhpei. After World War II, the political situation of the Marianas and Caroline Islands changed and Guam became the hub for transportation in and out of the islands as well as the center for medical services.

The Mercedarian Sisters needed to pass through Guam to reach the different mission houses. Due to the military presence on the island and the reliance on military air flights to go between the islands, it was frequently necessary to stay several days on the island of Guam. When the Mercedarian Sisters passed through Guam to Micronesia in 1946 they stayed at Maria Artero’s house as there were no convents on the island.

Some years later, Maria got sick and needed medical attention and was flown to the United States mainland. While recuperating, she was cared for by the Mercedarian Sisters in Our Lady of Mercy Home in Kansas City, Mo. After recovering, she decided to return to Guam where she died some months later in 1966. Maria knew we wanted and needed a convent in Guam, so she left us her house and property in her will. She asked in her will that the sisters would help the people of Guam.

At this time, the Ordinary, Bishop Apolinaris W. Baumgartner, OFM Cap., advised us to open a school to help working mothers with young children. On Oct. 17, 1967, Maria Artero Nursery opened its doors.

The age range of the students during the first years was three, four and five. The nursery was located in the bottom of the two-storied sisters’ convent. Sister Mary Louise Balzarini, MMB and Sister Cecilia Tudela, MMB were the first two sisters who opened the nursery.

Their objectives were to help the families with the knowledge that their children were being well cared for and also were being taught their faith, and the basic skills needed for going to the elementary schools on the island. In June 1968, the first graduation ceremony was held with the children in white caps and gowns. These children were ready for the first grade in the island schools.

In keeping with the Mercedarian educational philosophy, the curriculum of the school was expanded as more and more parents brought their children to the Sisters School. In June 1976, Typhoon Pamela destroyed the sisters’ convent and the school. That same year, both the convent and the existing school building were built.

The cement building was constructed to house now only 4- and 5-year-olds. There were new regulations given from the Department of Public Health in regards to child care facilities. The school’s direction was still in early childhood education but have since been limited to only those classes which directly prepared children for the elementary education system.

Over the years as more and more research on early childhood education was done, the curriculum of the school changed and expanded. To reflect this change the Mercedarian Sisters incorporated the school in May of 2003 and amended the name to Maria Artero Catholic Preschool and Kindergarten (MACPK) to better reflect the mission of the sisters and the school in contributing to the early childhood education of our students.

The Mercedarian Sisters look forward to serving the children and their families for many more years.