It’s that time of year when teachers and school staff mentally note growth spurts in returning students.

Our Lady of the Lake students — all preschoolers through first-graders — grew over the summer, and so did their school. Staff planned to add one grade per year until it emerged as a PS-8 campus, but demand defined reality differently.

First-graders naturally progressed, and enough third-grade students transferred back to have a split classroom with the second-graders. Summer construction created adequate classroom and bathroom space.

Fatima Mu, lead teacher at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School in Lake Havasu City, addresses the school’s eldest students, second- and third-graders on the first day of class Aug. 5. (Alfredo Carvajal/CATHOLIC SUN)

The Santana family is among those who are grateful for the expansion leap. It allowed their oldest son to re-enroll after two years of homeschooling. Francisco Santana taught in a Catholic school for almost a decade, and his wife Gaby attended a Catholic high school in Mexico. They wanted learning the faith to be integral in their children’s lives.

As a kindergartener, their eldest son asked about the “epiclesis” and wanted to see it at Mass. “We knew that the religious formation he was receiving at school was having a meaningful impact in his life,” said Francisco, who also happens to be the parish youth minister. School further fostered his interest in and knowledge of Mass and the importance of loving and serving God, he added.

By the Numbers


students enrolled in prekindergarten through third grade


Years that the preschool has existed with the kindergarten added about nine years ago


Years into expansion into a full PS-8 campus


Discipleship hours required of each family per school year


Other local public education option for junior high school and one local “classical” option

Now, the Santanas’ son, one of those pioneer third-graders, can attend the same school as his kindergarten sister. Both students have taken the initiative to pray for others when they learn someone is sick or could use another special intention. Their toddler brother will likely soon follow suit.

Our Lady of the Lake School’s accelerated growth is an example of the fruit made possible across eight major areas of support within the “Together Let Us Go Forth ~ Juntos
Sigamos Adelante”
 Campaign. It includes funds earmarked for Catholic School Growth and Development.

Our Lady of the Lake’s growth will first feature a building to house administration on the lower level and upper grades upstairs then create a multipurpose space for parish activities. Currently, soup kitchen volunteers and guests share the Holy Family Parish Center with the school.

Many at Our Lady of the Lake look forward to seeing the next generation of Catholics being well formed in the faith. Liz Amaro, administrative assistant and parent of two current students and four alumni from the preschool, is already awaiting the first eighth-grade class.

Paula Levensailor, school board president and herself a product of Catholic education, awaits those older students too. She is a veteran secondary teacher, who spent ٤١ years in education including ٢٥ in the Archdiocese of Denver.

“I am most excited by the prospect of having the older children here in a few years and being able to see what a difference we have made in their lives and the lives of their families,” Levensailor said. “I look forward to reviewing test results and watching the growth of our students academically. The older students will be able to make the school’s presence much fuller and obvious to the parish and community.”

Levensailor has spent 20 years in Lake Havasu and was part of creating the Catholic school’s handbook and mission statement. It boldly begins, “Saved, changed and called.”

Our Lady of the Lake School

1975 Daytona Dr.,
Lake Havasu City

Our Lady of the Lake School empowers children to be courageous Catholics, formed in the virtues of Christ, to know Him and make Him known forever

School website or (928) 855-0154

Our Lady of the Lake enriched diocesan curriculum with the “Disciple of Christ, Education in Virtue” program. It’s structured on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas to impart living the virtues of the Holy Spirit in reality and via saintly models. The school also teaches a classical curriculum.

“It’s one of the most freeing resources as far as nurturing the liberal arts and seeing it bear fruit when it got to be time for rhetoric,” said lead teacher Fatima Mu.

She described the school as a small community with mutual respect and staff committed to the mission. As the second and third grade teacher, it will also mirror the setup she had when she was a student-teacher.

Our Lady of the Lake opened as a preschool in 2002 and added a kindergarten about eight years later.