Faith, service, academics fly high for Galveston-Houston Catholic schools

February 13, 2018

During Catholic Schools Week, students at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Conroe pray a living Rosary in the school field Jan. 30 in honor of Vicky Tannos, a former teacher who died from cancer in 2017. The school was to originally honor Tannos in Aug. 2017, but Hurricane Harvey delayed the services. Photo by James Ramos/Herald.

HOUSTON -- From Conroe to the north, Galveston to the south, stretching from Katy to Baytown and all in-between, the 59 Catholic schools throughout the Archdiocese celebrated National Catholic Schools Week (CSW) Jan. 28 through Feb. 3, with the theme “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.” 

Instituted by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), the weeklong celebration highlights the value that Catholic education offers churches, families and communities.

North Houston Catholic school sees power of prayer in life

Under a bright blue sky, students at Sacred Heart School (SHS) in Conroe gathered to pray a Rosary for a special intercession. A special playground-side memorial service celebrated the life of Victoria Tannos, a former teacher who died from colon cancer in June 2017.

Eighth-grader Justin Tannos, with his older sister Grace Tannos, held onto the blue and yellow balloon Rosary with the rest of his eighth-grade class. Though emotions were high for much of the school staff and faculty — many wiping tears between prayers, and at times the siblings embracing — both Justin and Grace were smiling after they let the balloons fly high into the sky.

Former SHS student Grace Tannos said the prayer service “meant everything” to her “just being able to honor my mom in a different way and remember her in the place that she always was and [my siblings and I] were always taught together.”

Grace said praying the Rosary reminded her of going to church with her mother. Mrs. Tannos’ family was also in attendance, standing next to a smiling portrait of the veteran teacher.

Husband Paul Tannos said the school community became a second family for them during Mrs. Tannos’ cancer treatment and death.

During Catholic Schools Week, students at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Conroe pray a living Rosary in the school field Jan. 30 in honor of Vicky Tannos, a former teacher who died from cancer in 2017. The school was to originally honor Tannos in Aug. 2017, but Hurricane Harvey delayed the services. Photo by James Ramos/Herald.

“It was very nice to honor [Victoria],” he said. “She loved this place, she spent a lot of time here, she loved all the kids and everything else, so it was nice of them to leave a permanent reminder of her behind.”

Deb Brown, SHS principal said “Mrs. Tannos was a loving wife, a fierce mother, a dedicated daughter, a loyal sister, supportive friend and an encouraging teacher. Mrs. Tannos confronted her illness with courage and bravery and served as a role model for students when faced with such a challenge. However, God had other plans for Mrs. Tannos’ life.”
The school planted a maple tree near the playground as a “reminder of Mrs. Tannos and the many young lives she touched at Sacred Heart over the years.”

PHOTOS: Catholic Schools Week around the Archdiocese

Mrs. Tannos, who taught during her cancer treatment, every fifth through eighth grader, said Brown.

Brown saw the memorial service as a reflection of Catholic education, especially during Catholic Schools Week. The students all knew the Rosary, how it’s a prayer for everything in life, in sickness, in celebration, or for the end to injustice like abortion or to honor Mary, she said. These issues of Catholic social teaching are all found in the Rosary.

The service — which saw the balloon Rosary fly freely for the first time, the last two attempts during recent Catholic Schools Weeks ended up in the trees or the school’s weather vane — also helped students see the stages of life, she said.

“[Mrs. Tannos] won’t ever be forgotten,” she said, “but we wanted to be able to send her off the right way for our children to see the cycle of life.”

Schools celebrate with faith, academics, service and more

On Feb. 1, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo celebrated Mass with students at St. Jerome Catholic School in Houston.
To the delight of the students, Cardinal DiNardo walked througout the church sanctuary during his homily, interacting with students individually and as a whole. Following Mass, he greeted members of the student and parish community.

On Jan. 25, St. Thomas More Catholic School hosted the 2018 Archdiocesan Middle School Science Fair. A science fair project is one of the best learning experiences a student can undertake, according to organizers, and involves research, experiment design, inquiry based learning, writing and presentation.

This year, more than 150 students from Archdiocesan schools participated in the fair. Twenty-seven awards were given for categories in physical, life and earth sciences. According to organizers, judges and teachers agreed that this years’ projects were of the highest caliber and that students were able to intelligently explain and discuss their projects.

At St. Catherine’s Montessori in Houston, Father Francis Therese of the Community of St. John in Denver, Colorado, celebrated Mass with the adolescent community. He then met with students to discuss philosophy and about vocations to the religious life, as well as leading students in prayer during Adoration.

Father Therese also met with students at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic School in Humble to share about vocations. Later during the week, they were entertained by a magic show, then sharpened their social studies skills during a geography bee followed by a faith formation assembly.

Giving was the idea on Jan. 30 at St. Christopher Catholic School in Houston when students were allowed to wear pajamas to school if they brought a pair of new pajamas to share with those in the needy community.

Students at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School in Houston also celebrated their faith by serving at Sunday, Jan. 28 Masses. Students collected socks, shoes, underwear, soap and toilet paper to donate to the Christian Community Service Center.

Catholic schools across the Archdiocese celebrated CSW in unique and different ways with many entire communities focused on acts of service, prayer and faith, honoring family and veterans, military and first responders, literacy and science, celebrating the 100th day of school, athletics and more.

Schools nation-wide help Harvey relief efforts

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in August, the NCEA began a national campaign that invited Catholic school families to donate at least $1 toward the “Student to Student: A Catholic School Response to Hurricane Harvey” campaign to help those Catholic school communities hardest hit by the events in the United States, the Caribbean and U.S. territories.

The campaign was eventually renamed “Student to Student: A Catholic School Response to Hurricane Relief 2017” to include those that followed Harvey and the wildfires in the west.

By the end of 2017, 826 Catholic schools from across the country donated more than $600,000 to this solidarity effort. NCEA has begun the process of disbursing funds to Catholic arch/dioceses affected by recent natural disasters, beginning with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

The observance of CSW began in 1974, according to the USCCB. Schools and parishes around the country will hold activities such as Masses, open houses and pot luck gatherings to celebrate the communities they represent.
The week also highlights the educational and community successes of Catholic schools nationwide. Ninety-nine percent of students graduate from high school and 86 percent of Catholic school graduates attend college. This percentage has been consistent over the past 20 years.