Pictured: The Honorable Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill and St. Benedict Principal Dr. Kathy McCool

Pictured: The Honorable Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill and St. Benedict Principal Dr. Kathy McCool

January 26th, 2020 (Elberta, Alabama) – Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill recently visited St. Benedict School in Elberta to recognize and celebrate its Centennial Year anniversary.  “This is a truly momentous occasion for St. Benedict Catholic School and its 100th graduating class. As we celebrate the school’s rich history and revel in the outstanding accomplishments of the many alumni that have walked before you, go confidently towards the future.  St. Benedict has helped you build a robust academic foundation and steadfast moral compass that will enable you to achieve great things, as long as you always hold these gifts close to your heart,” stated the Honorable Secretary of State Merrill as he addressed the upcoming St. Benedict Eighth Grade graduates.    

During his campus tour, Merrill discussed the aspects of public service, the importance of voting, and the role that young people can play in shaping the future through civic engagement and participation. Dr. Kathy McCool, Principal of St. Benedict stated, “We were so very honored to have the Honorable Secretary of State Merrill dedicate time out of his busy schedule to spend with our students.  His natural ability to make learning about governmental processes and positions fun made a huge impact on each of them. They especially loved hearing about the various civic volunteer opportunities available in our state government.  In fact, many of the older students approached me afterwards saying they were excited about potentially becoming a page at the state capital!”  

As Alabama’s 53rd Secretary of State, Merrill’s broad list of accomplishments include the implementation of the country’s most formidable voter identification law which helps protect the integrity of the voting process, the reduction of overhead and consolidation of redundant services resulting in millions of dollars of savings for Alabama’s taxpayers, and the creation of innovative online resources that enable business owners to have their tax filings processed in a much more efficient manner reducing their wait time from seven months to one day.  On a philanthropic level, Merrill has been an integral part of simplifying international child adoption processes in order for families to better navigate bringing their children home. 

While on the St. Benedict campus, the Honorable Secretary of State Merrill was accompanied by St. Benedict alumnus, the Honorable Judge of Probate Tim Russell (Baldwin County, retired) and his wife & retired St. Benedict teacher, Mrs. Sandy Russell. “The impact that the Honorable Secretary of State Merrill has made in the six years of holding this position is monumental.  He has diligently worked to improve voter registration and participation to ensure that Alabama citizens’ voices are heard.  During his tenure, he has registered nearly 1.8 million new voters and cleaned up the voter rolls by 1.3 million. The fact that Alabama now has 3,589,035 registered voters is unprecedented,” stated the Honorable Judge Russell.

Before leaving St. Benedict, the Honorable Secretary of State Merrill told the students “If I can leave you with one piece of advice, it is to read.  Read a lot. Read about anything you enjoy.  Never stop. This is the single best tool for success.”   


St. Benedict Catholic School is a fully accredited private school founded in 1921 and continues to serve students in South Baldwin county grades PreK3 through 8th grade.  They are committed to building a community of inquisitive minds, faithful souls, and giving hearts in a safe and loving environment. St. Benedict was recently voted Best Preschool and Private School in Baldwin County*. They offer affordable tuition options and are currently enrolling for all grades. The public is invited to attend their upcoming Open House being held January 31st 1pm-3pm at their campus located at 12786 Illinois Street, Elberta, AL 36530. Additional information can be found at www.saintbenedict.net or by calling 251-986-8143.

*(Best of Baldwin 2021 – Gulf Coast Media)


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St. Benedict Catholic School is a private Pre Kindergarten through Middle School serving the Baldwin County communities of Lillian, Elberta, Foley, Bon Secour, Magnolia Springs, Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and surrounding areas in South Alabama.