‘Come Together’ over Steps for Students

September 25, 2018

In its 14th year, the Steps for Students 5K Walk/Run is set for Feb. 16, 2019. File photo by James Ramos/Herald.

HOUSTON — The Beatles song “Come Together” resonates with many around the Archdiocese as they search for ways to connect with each other. 

One way the 60 Catholic schools of the Archdiocese come together is through the annual Steps for Steps 5K Walk/Run. In its 14th year, the race is set for Feb. 16, 2019.

Debra Haney, secretariat director and superintendent of Catholic Schools, is the Steps for Students Grand Marshall. She said she is most looking forward to seeing the excitement of the more than 12,500 people that register for the race and observe first-hand the pride in Catholic schools on race day.

“It is amazing to see so many families, faculty members, Chancery employees, priests, seminarians, deacons and sisters come together in solidarity to support our Catholic schools in the Archdiocese,” she said. “To date, this is the only event in the Archdiocese that has active participation from all 60 of our schools as well as the Chancery and religious orders, and it is wonderful to witness students of all ages and their families so happy to be at a family-friendly event that promotes Catholic education specifically.”

Schools promote Steps for Students to create awareness of Catholic education, create fellowship in their community, and raise money for their school. Individual registration will be $20. In addition, this year, an untimed registration for $18 will be offered to participants. Registration for four or more people will also be $18.

School and parish participation are vital to the success of Steps for Students, and many use this as a way to “come together” on race day.

“Steps for Students highlights fellowship among area Catholic schools by having students come together in a family-friendly setting to support all of our schools,” Haney said. “Activities on the day of the race include a Mass at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart which epitomizes community as we gather for communion in Jesus Christ, as well as a ‘Catholic Schools Village’ where schools each set up an area and gather as a group to have sociability and fun, kind of like tailgating but with tables and tents instead of trucks.”

Haney said this tailgate-style environment allows schools to commingle easily as participants can meet new people and make connections.

“Parents are able to greet one another and form acquaintances that may someday meet again at a sporting event, extracurricular activity, or high school function,” Haney said. “School employees network and build relationships. In addition to the run itself and the ‘village,’ there are activities for families to participate in that day. This highlights fellowship in that we are coming together for a common purpose.”

Coming together for the common purpose of creating awareness about Catholic education is why so many parishes and schools dedicate time and energy to creating a buzz about Steps in their area of the Archdiocese.

After promoting Steps for Students throughout the school year last year in 2017-18, Christ the Redeemer Catholic School (CTRCS) had the highest fundraising total in 2018 with $105,170.60 raised and the second largest team with 571 registrants.
Dan Courtney, principal of CTRCS, said Steps for Students is not only a wonderful fundraising opportunity for their school, but it is a chance for them to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

“We really stress the importance of this event as a way to bring together our Catholic schools, and have a whole lot of fun doing it,” he said. “Beyond this, we work closely with our advancement department to promote this event on a regular basis within our school and provide initiatives for our school community to get involved. We have an outstanding community of volunteers who get involved, and believe if we are going to do something at CTRCS, we are going to go big!”

While fundraising is a big part of the event, only one school is awarded the most coveted award in the Steps for Students competition each year — the David Guite Spirit Award.

“My favorite part of Steps for Students each year is the awarding of the David Guite Spirit Award,” Haney said. “This award is given in memory of one of our principals who passed away, and its purpose is to highlight the school with the most school spirit, which is evidenced through participation and fundraising for the event. A team can only qualify if their number of registrants is at least 75 percent of their school enrollment.”

Corpus Christi Catholic School excelled and won the award in 2017-18. Principal Mazie McCoy said the entire Corpus Christi school and parish community was excited to win.

“Our Steps committee, led by Mrs. Lily Reyes, worked very hard to get everyone to register for our team,” McCoy said. “I knew David personally, so it was a tremendous honor to me for Corpus to win this award. David’s example of enthusiasm, faith and dedication thrives at Corpus Christi.”

McCoy attributes their school spirit, fundraising and participation to the partnership between their school and parish community.

“The school has a strong religious presence in our parish,” she said. “Many teachers, staff, parents and scholars participate as altar servers, members of the choir, and/or as ministers of Holy Communion. The spirit of unity and enthusiasm is seen after Mass as we look forward to greeting one another to share our joy and to offer kind words of strength to those in need. The community works constantly and as a team by volunteering and supporting all parish and school events. Like David, the members of Corpus Christi school and parish are strong advocates for Catholic education.”

Visit www.steps4students.org to register to walk or run the race. There is an option to hit the snooze button for those who would like to support Steps for Students but cannot make race day.

“Steps for Students is an awesome event and fun for anyone,” Haney said. “It’s for the entire family, and anyone can come out to the race in a number of roles — runner, walker, volunteer, cheerleader or sponsor. I encourage everyone to join us on Feb. 16 and be a part of the biggest Catholic event in the city of Houston!”