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Catholic schools prepare to celebrate Catholic education
By Texas Catholic Herald

1/10/2017

Students at St. Mary Catholic School in League City chalk up their appreciation for Catholic education and will soon join the 19,000 other Catholic school students in Houston to celebrate Catholic Schools Week Jan. 29 to Feb. 4.

HOUSTON — With a continuous theme of “Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service,” the 59 schools of the Archdiocese are preparing to celebrate Catholic Schools Week from Jan. 29 to Feb. 4.

The annual week-long event is dedicated to celebrating the exceptional standards of Catholic schools, school achievements, individual school communities nationwide and to open the doors for parents interested in learning more about Catholic education for their children.
Dr. Julie Vogel, superintendent of Catholic Schools, said the public is invited to visit Catholic schools and witness first-hand the positive charisms evident in each of the communities they serve.

“We celebrate our commitment to academic excellence and the evangelizing mission of the Church, not only during Catholic Schools Week, but every single day,” she said. “We are so proud of how our schools encourage students to live out their faith as examples of Christ’s love daily. We believe in the power of an education where faith, love and service set us apart from other educational options.”

The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) has daily themes that each school can follow to bring to light how students and teachers are communities of faith, knowledge and service:

■ Sunday’s theme is In Our Parish: Catholic schools benefit all year long from the religious guidance, prayers and support parishes provide. Many parishes join in the National Catholic Schools Week celebration by devoting a Mass to Catholic education. Schools start the week by inviting parishioners and community members to parish-centered events and school open houses that feature their outstanding academic programs, religious education and service opportunities.

■ Monday’s theme is In Our Community: A central aspect of Catholic education is learning the importance of service to others. When students take part in service activities — both local and beyond — they demonstrate the values and faith they gain through their Catholic education and learn how to make the world a better place. When they observe how others serve the community, they gain an appreciation for how they can continue to serve others their entire lives.

■ Tuesday’s theme is Celebrating Your Students: Schools celebrate students during National Catholic Schools Week by planning enjoyable and meaningful activities for them and recognizing their accomplishments. They encourage students to reflect on the benefits of Catholic education and how the grounding in faith, knowledge and service it provides will help them throughout their lives.

■ Wednesday’s theme is Celebrating the Nation: On National Appreciation Day for Catholic Schools, students, families, educators and other Catholic school supporters communicate the value of Catholic education to government leaders. They share information with leaders on the significant contributions Catholic schools make to the nation and their role in preparing students to be good citizens. They pray for the nation and recognize all those who serve it.

■ Thursday’s theme is Celebrating Vocations: By focusing on faith, knowledge and service, Catholic schools prepare children to use their God-given talents to the fullest later in life. National Catholic Schools Week offers an opportunity for students to explore the many life paths that enable them to use their talents well in the service of God and others — by answering the call to a religious vocation, by nurturing a family through sacramental marriage, by volunteering in church activities and charities, and/or by pursuing a career that makes the world a better place.

■ Friday’s theme is Celebrating Faculty, Staff and Volunteers: On this day, schools will honor teachers and principals as well as administrators and staff who support them in their important work and thank the parents, grandparents, alumni, parishioners and school board members who provide volunteer service.

■ Saturday’s theme is Celebrating Families: Parents, guardians and other family members play a vital role in Catholic education. Not only do they volunteer at the school, they instill values and expectations for academic excellence in their children at home. We acknowledge the role of families in Catholic education and celebrate their contributions to the success of our schools on the last day of National Catholic Schools Week and all year long.

Dawn Martinez, assistant principal and director of advancement at St. Anne Catholic School in Houston, said the school spends the week thanking everyone who has a hand in Catholic education. “We start off the week with Mass on Sunday and invite all of the St. Anne students to attend the Sunday Children’s Mass,” she said. “During the week, we have a Doughnuts with Dad and a Muffins with Mom to thank the parents for the gift of Catholic education.”

Martinez said their favorite day is Friday, because the kids spend the week writing thank you cards to everyone who plays a part in their Catholic education, including their teachers, the priests, the maintenance staff, the nurse and the receptionist.

“After lunch (on Friday), the students go around handing out their thank you cards to each of these people,” she said. “We love that the students celebrate the week by showing others how much they mean to them.”

St. Laurence Catholic School will host a pep rally and a special visit by the mayor of Sugar Land, Joe Zimmerman. Other activities include an assembly with prayers and songs for our nation, special treats for students, Chalk It Up for Catholic Education, and treats for the parish staff.
“Through these events, the focus will be on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and beyond,” St. Laurence Catholic School Principal Suzanne Barto said.

For more information about Catholic Schools Week and Catholic schools, visit choosecatholicschools.org.