Schools prepare to showcase, celebrate treasure of Catholic education
Catholic Schools Week set for Jan. 29-Feb. 4
By Ambria Hammel | Jan. 17, 2012 | The Catholic Sun
There’s a Chinese saying that says learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.
For students learning at Catholic schools, they’re apt to share that treasure with the faithful and local community. That’s the focus for this year’s nationwide Catholic Schools Week celebration, scheduled for Jan. 29-Feb. 4.
The theme, “Catholic Schools: Faith. Academics. Service.” expresses the three priorities that make Catholic schools stand out, said MaryBeth Mueller, superintendent for the diocese’s seven stand-alone preschools, 29 elementary schools and five high schools.
Catholic schools feature high academic standards, a consistent Catholic message that fosters a personal relationship with God, and service opportunities as an expression of faith and good citizenship. The combined focus prepares students for full and meaningful lives in their families, communities and the Church, Mueller said.
Catholic Schools Week, which turns 40 next year, is a time for students to celebrate their unique path of learning within the parish, community and nation, organizers state. Festivities across the country will reflect that, most notably open houses for prospective students and public rallies at state capitols supporting school choice.
Families thinking about transferring to a Catholic school this year or in the fall should plan on attending an open house. Most elementary schools are hosting them Jan. 29 after Sunday Masses.
Several schools set aside a day or more during the school year specifically for incoming preschool and kindergarten children to sample school life. Two of them happen to fall during “School Choice Week,” a startup celebration planned by a diverse coalition of groups and people.
Most Holy Trinity, on Seventh Street north of Northern Avenue, is holding a “Try it for a day… Stay for a lifetime” Jan. 27 open house. The idea is to let the children experience the school environment while allowing parents to and ask questions of administrators and gather enrollment information.
St. Francis Xavier, near Central and Camelback, is hosting its third “Come and See” preschool and kindergarten event Jan. 23.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy in Queen Creek invites prospective preschool and kindergarten families to a mid-week open house Feb. 1.
Catholic Schools Week is also a time for fun, achievement showcases and gratitude. Appreciation days will be devoted to key figures who make each campus thrive.
“We are excited to have the opportunity during Catholic Schools Week to share what our students are learning and what they have accomplished,” said Mueller, superintendent. “We can thank the parents, faculty, staff, priests, administration and volunteers who, because of their dedication and commitment, exemplify that our students are learning in a culture of faith, academics and service that is preparing them for a full life.”
Teachers at St. Gregory School, near 19th Avenue and Osborn Road, will wrap up Catholic Schools Week by thanking their students through songs, poems or narratives during opening prayer. The activity will return a favor from earlier in the week when students did the same for each homeroom teacher.
Other school activities scheduled across the diocese include picnics, Grandparent Masses, talent shows, dress up days and donation drives.
Students also make time during Catholic Schools Week to gather as a diocesan family. Student representatives from each campus are invited to attend an all-school liturgy Feb. 1 at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, followed by a rally at the state Capitol in celebration of National Appreciation Day for Catholic Schools.
The diocesan Catholic Schools Office will also crown this year’s top speller during the annual spelling bee. Students have spent the first weeks of the New Year bestowing the title at the campus level.