Photos: Celebrating Catholic Schools Week in Northern Kentucky
Mon, 01/26/2015 - 08:22 RCN Newsdesk
The Diocese of Covington is excited to celebrate Catholic Schools Week which will be January 25 through January 30. All the schools have some activities planned for the week, and plan to send representatives to the annual Catholic Schools week Mass at the Cathedral on Madison Avenue in Covington on Wednesday morning.
"Catholic Schools week began in 1974, and the Diocese of Covington has proudly observed this week by celebrating every year all the good news in Catholic education," said School Superintendent Michael Clines. "It provides the schools the opportunity and time to focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities, and our nation."
The diocese spans fourteen counties in Northern Kentucky. In 2013 there were 92,456 Catholics among a total population of 513,971 within 47 parishes. There are 39 educational institutions in the diocese including Thomas More College and 9 high schools. In 2013 there were 14,284 students under Catholic instruction. Many of the schools belong to the Alliance for Catholic Urban Education (ACUE). All of the schools have some activities planned for this week, which always begins on the last Sunday of January.
"Every year there is a theme to the week, and this year it is Catholic Schools: community of faith, knowledge, and service," said Tim Fitzgerald, Communications Director for the Diocese of Covington.
Some of the schools are holding open houses, and the students decorate their schools for these events, which are opportunities for people to see what the schools are like, in case they are considering switching their children from public school to private school, or putting their children in a parochial school from the beginning.
"We had our oldest son in a public school and we lived in Erlanger," said Tracy Hunt, mom of an eight-year old and a twelve-year old. "We felt like something was missing so we went looking at parochial schools. A friend told us about St. Augustine, and we love it. We love the small school environment and the fact that religion is a part of the everyday curriculum."
Her sons are now in sixth and second grades and are studying to become Catholic, as is Tracy.
"God has a place in school," she said confidently. "I see a difference in my older son, and I think Catholic education makes students more invested in the people around them. They have a more giving spirit."
At 139 students, St. Augustine Principal Sister Marie Therese Schappert of the Sisters of Notre Dame knows all of her students, and interacts with them.
"It is small enough to be able to know the students and their families," said Sister Marie Therese. "This is my 17th year here, and my sixth as principal. This is a very good school and the students are great."
The school was founded in 1870 and the Sisters of Notre Dame have been at the school since 1875. Five sisters are still at the school. Father Leo Schmidt is the pastor at St. Augustine, and has been there 23 years.
"This is a very good school," he said. "A lot of the students go on to Holy Cross High School, and we know they have a good foundation."
St Anthony, located on Grand Avenue in Taylor Mill, began in 1907 as a one room schoolhouse, and upgraded to a four room school in 1952. In 1958 a basement was added to the school. Currently the school has 46 students in grades K through 8, and although the enrollment was once up to 200, the school is still turning out students with a top notch education.
"We put forth an extra effort," said Veronica Schweitzer, who has been at the school steadily since 1999. "We have four full time teachers. Father Matthew Cushing takes care of all our computer needs, and he teaches seventh grade religion. We got a foundation grant last August which allowed us to get a classroom set of Ipads plus a cart to charge them. We do Diocesan testing every year and our students always score at or above Diocesan standards."
St. Anthony is part of the ACUE organization which allows schools to share some things like sports.
"We created several statements that work together to explain how we feel about Catholic education," said Schweitzer. "They are 'rooted in God, educated in excellence, and embraced by family'."
All of the schools are celebrating the week in some way. Holy Trinity in Bellevue will hold their annual penny drive, which the students love to participate in. They also have a no uniform day, which is something the students really look forward to, and at least one day where there is no homework.
"Friday, January 30, we will be having an all schools Mass at our junior high," said Principal James Hubbard. "We will also have cards for our parents and volunteers hanging in our gym."
The Catholic schools are generally a little smaller than their public school counterparts, but the principals are convinced that a smaller class size is definitely in the student's favor, giving them more teacher attention and thus a more individualized education. Whatever the preference for parents seeking to give their children the best possible education, Catholic schools are putting their best foot forward this week ready to show parents what they have to offer.
Story & photos (except where noted) by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor