Schools give back for Catholic Schools Week

The Michigan Catholic

DETROIT — Since 1974, Catholic Schools Week has been observed in late January to celebrate the achievements and worth of Catholic schools.

And while a Catholic education remains one of the best forms of private education in the country, it’s also a week when both secular and religious educators can recognize and appreciate the contributions Catholic schools make to the overall educational landscape.

This year, Catholic Schools Week will be celebrated Jan. 27 through Feb. 2 with the theme “Catholic Schools Raise the Standards.” The theme goes hand-in-hand with the recent launch of the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools, which seeks to ensure both high academic standards and a strong Catholic identity in each of the nation’s Catholic schools.

Schools celebrate Catholic Schools Week in a variety of ways, including open houses, special Masses, “spirit weeks,” community service, charity and faith- and fun-filled activities for students, faculty and parents.

The Archdiocese of Detroit has 71 grade schools, 26 high schools and five Catholic colleges and seminaries celebrating Catholic Schools Week, some of whom have advertised open houses and events in these pages.
Here’s a sampling of what our schools are doing to mark the occasion from those who responded to a Michigan Catholic survey.

St. Mary/McCormick Catholic Academy, Port Huron
St. Mary/McCormick Catholic Academy students will spend Catholic Schools Week “showing their gratitude to the St. Mary Parish community” that supports it, said Jennie McClelland, advancement director at the school. The students will add special prayers for all archdiocesan and Blue Water Area Catholic schools during morning prayers, as well as making cards to be placed in pews during the Catholic Schools Week Appreciation Mass at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 27. An open house will follow the Mass, and students will also participate in a special “spirit week,” collecting canned goods for the local chapter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Bishop Kelley Catholic School, Lapeer
Students at Bishop Kelley Catholic School will need a reason for their special dress or activities during Catholic Schools Week, said Principal Anne Estelle, and so have tied each day to a different charity or cause. On Monday, “Camo/Patriotic Day,” students will write letters and send toilet paper to soldiers fighting overseas. On “Electronics/Neon Day” Tuesday, students can pay $1 to bring play an electronic device for an hour during school or wear neon-colored clothes. Fr. Doug Terrien, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, the school’s sponsor, will also compete with students in a Wii golf and bowling tournament. Wednesday, “Pajama Day,” students can wear pajamas for the price of a gently used book to be donated to the Family Literacy Center, and students will also read to their “reading buddies.” On Thursday, “Sports Day,” students can wear their favorite team’s gear and have extra phys-ed time. Finally, on Friday, “Cancer Awareness Day,” students will wear ribbons representing a form of cancer that has touched a loved one, pray at afternoon Benediction for those afflicted, and donate Band-Aids to Children’s Hospital.

Our Lady of Sorrows School, Farmington
More than 740 students from Our Lady of Sorrows will be putting their faith in action during Catholic Schools Week, starting with an open house from 1-4 p.m. Jan. 27, which will feature presentations from the school band, youth group puppet ministry, science experiments and school tours. Other activities during the week will include a high-energy school assembly, V.I.P. Day and family movie night. The week will end with nearly 600 students creating a balloon rosary to be let go in prayer for the intention of ending abortion.

St. Patrick School, Carleton
St. Patrick School will sponsor its first “Faith Fair” the morning of Jan. 27 in the parish gym in honor of Catholic Schools Week. The fair will feature the work of students related to their religion studies and community service. Fifth- and sixth-graders will display their recently published hardcover book “Emulating the Saints,” containing original essays and artwork, while students portray and share information about their favorite saints. Another exhibit will offer guests a look at a student reading list of Catholic books donated to the school in December. Seminarian Mark Tibai, a St. Patrick parishioner, will be the subject of another display promoting vocations to the priesthood, along with a traveling vocations chalice. Parishioner Ed Cook, who makes and repairs rosaries, will also display his craft.

De La Salle Collegiate High School, Warren
De La Salle Collegiate High School will honor the alumni fathers of current students by inviting them to attend Mass with their sons during the Catholic Schools Week Liturgy. A group photo with the alumni and their sons will follow Mass. The school also plans to bless class rings for its sophomore students at the Mass, as a reminder to “how the ring is a visible reminder of the students’ affiliation with a Catholic school,” said Vicki Granger, De La Salle’s director of communications. Finally, the school will announce the teacher chosen as the school’s “Lasallian Educator of the Year.”

Bishop Foley High School, Madison Heights
Bishop Foley High School is encouraging students to say “thank you” to their parents during Catholic Schools Week by sharing with them the school’s “famous ‘Foley cookies.’” The week will also feature the school’s annual talent show, school-wide bingo, a raffle for an administrator’s parking space, and an opportunity to ditch the school uniform for a week. Students will also write letters to their former teachers or priests who have helped them grow spiritually. After Mass at Guardian Angels Parish in Clawson, Guardian Angels students and faculty will treat Bishop Foley students and faculty to breakfast, after which the high school will treat the younger school to lunch. The week will then end with a student vs. faculty dodgeball game.