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Audio Bishop Fisher Education Features

Bishop Fisher visits Orchard Park for first day of school


The first day of school in Orchard Park saw students file into St. John Vianney School where faith, education and community merge to shape the minds and spirits that will shape the future.   

Some students were all smiles as they began a new year at St. John Vianney School in Orchard Park. (Photo by Nicole Dzimira)

Bishop Michael W. Fisher greeted the students as they walked into the school gym. He kicked off the day by leading the Our Father followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. The students then treated the bishop to a sung and signed version of the Hail Mary, and the St. John Vianney School song led by Melinda Bauerlein, music and Spanish teacher.

Bishop Fisher thanked Principal Joan Thomas for the invitation to come to the school.

“I love St. John Vianney,” he told the students and staff. “He’s the patron saint of parish priests. He’s a very special saint to all of us who are priests. So, you have a wonderful patron for your school.”

He went on to thank the parents for choosing a Catholic school for their children and thanked the teachers for the work they do.

“Be good to them today,” he told the students. “I know they’ll be really good to you.”

Principal Joan Thomas and Vice Principal Andrew Woodrow led a tour of the school that included every grade in the pre-K through eighth grade school. Bishop Fisher, a math major, wanted to know what the math class would be learning that year.  

The second graders had two major tasks on their first day, coloring and naming the class teddy bear. Throughout the year they will learn to be responsible, remarkable, imaginative and trustworthy.

While visiting the kindergarten class, also known as the class of 2032, the bishop showed off his episcopal ring, which has a buffalo and a lion engraved on it. One student asked if the buffalo stood for the Buffalo Bills. “Kinda,” the bishop replied, adding that it represented the Diocese of Buffalo.

Opened in 1960, St. John Vianney School focuses on academic excellence in a faith-based environment. It offers advanced placement courses, as well as remedial courses with the support of academic intervention services.

“All of my teachers are certified and professionals. Many have their master’s. It’s a family environment,” said Thomas. “When people walk into the building, they’ll say to me, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to be part of this school because it feels so much like my home.’”

Thomas had worked for more than 30 years in public schools in the Orchard Park School District, and has been involved in Catholic education for 10.

“For me it’s very rewarding because people are here because they want to be here and we pride ourselves on being fair, but being structured and being disciplined and focused on what we’re supposed to be doing,” she said.

Michael Mroziak attended the first day. Here’s his audio report.


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