The Catholic church in Muscatine has had faith based education since the first Catholic school was built in 1852 on the campus of St. Mathias Church. St. Mary church built a school 28 years later. In 1950, the programs consolidated at the location now known as Ss. Mary and Mathias Catholic School. Currently, the school houses the Guardian Angel Pre-School and K-5 elementary education, but that will change this coming school year. The Catholic Board of Education in Muscatine has elected to add sixth grade for the 2016-2017 school year. Ben Nietzel, the principal of SSMMCS, is excited about the expansion. Nietzel said, “We are excited to provide faith based education to families in Muscatine all the way through middle school.” The school will expand to sixth grade this upcoming year and the following year the plan is to expand to seventh grade in 2017-2018 and eighth grade in 2018-2019. When the three-year plan is complete, the school will provide Kindergarten through eighth grade in one building.
The Middle School will be housed in the Mazzuchelli Faith Formation Center, a new wing of the school which opened in 2010. The expansion was paid for by Ss. Mary and Mathias Catholic Parish and currently houses the religious education program and other parish education programs. The expansion is what made investigating the idea possible as Nietzel stated, “The biggest expenses with expanding a school are the physical part and staffing. Because we have the space available to us, this allowed us to move forward with this idea. We have no building to build or renovate.” Nietzel also added, “We have an opportunity to provide for families who want God and prayer to be a part of their child’s education all the way through middle school now.” Emily Wolf, a member of the Catholic Board of Education, said, “As a board member I’m excited that parents and students will be able to call their school home for three more years.”
Currently class sizes range from 14-22 students. The incoming Kindergarten class could be as large as 26. Nietzel said that enrollment, “Is about 75% Catholic, and 25% non-Catholic.” Students in middle school will have the same array of athletics and fine art opportunities that public school students will have. Nietzel said, “Our school is open to all people who want faith-based education for their children; our middle school will be open to any family, even if they didn’t attend elementary school here.”