Fairmont Catholic announces new principal via Facebook Live

Diane Burnside, a long-time Marion County educator, is the new principal at Fairmont Catholic Grade School.

FAIRMONT — Fairmont Catholic Grade School turned to Facebook Live to announce its new principal during a ceremony on Thursday at the school.

Faculty, staff, students, and parents addressed a tripod-mounted camera in the school gym. Individually, they took turns praising the K-8 school and reminding area parents of its existence as an option to public education.

“We want to livestream our parents what our goals are for the new academic year,” said Rev. Joseph M. Konikattil, “and to keep in touch with the parents during this pandemic.”

The new academic year begins July 1.

Father Joe serves as designated pastor of Fairmont Catholic, which has about 200 students.

He’s been a priest for 21 years, has resided in Fairmont for the past two years, and has served as a principal at a school with 3,000 students in his native India. A consultant to the Indian government regarding the field of education, Konikattil holds three master’s degrees and a doctorate in American literature.

“Fairmont Catholic is not just for Catholic students. No matter one’s religious affiliation, this school is open to all people who love gospel’s values and the universal values of brotherhood, love and kindness. All are welcome to be part of this school,” Konikattil said.

Father Joe introduced Fairmont Catholic’s new principal, Diane Burnside, during the Facebook Live event.

Burnside has more than 49 years in education, including 23 years as a teacher in Marion County, 14 years as an administrator with the board of education, and eight years working at Fairmont State University with student teachers. She retired from teaching last year.

“My faith is the biggest thing that attracted me to Fairmont Catholic,” said Burnside. “Father Joe asked me if I would be interested and when you have it in your blood, it’s hard to give up. I don’t think any of us truly retire, so I’m going back to what I love doing, teaching and being with students.”

Burnside will be joined by longtime colleague Joyce Evans. Evans also unretired to become director of curriculum at Fairmont Catholic after spending 45.5 years in her career that spanned from pre-kindergarten to college across Marion County.

“We are reconnecting in a spiritual way,” Evans said of working with Burnside. “I’ve always felt God meant for me to be a teacher and I’m excited to help Fairmont Catholic under new leadership.”

Fairmont Catholic opened as St. Peter’s School in 1919. Councilman and former mayor Tom Mainella attended school there, as did his father and his grandson does today.

“It’s a wonderful alternative to public schools,” Mainella said.

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