National Catholic Schools Week

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St. Joan of Arc school is a 2013 Blue Ribbon School.

12 ways to celebrate National Catholic Schools Week

1. Make it special. Plan the types of events that are the most meaningful to your school community and that celebrate your history and traditions.

2. Don’t try to do too much. Focus on a few well-organized activities that everyone can enjoy.

3. Incorporate the theme. Personalize it to your school to show how you focus on faith, knowledge and service.

4. Pray together. The opportunity to share faith every day is a gift of Catholic education.

5. Serve together. Catholic Schools Week is a good time to highlight the school’s ongoing commitment to service or launch a new service initiative.

6. Learn something together. Break out from the usual subjects to try something new.

7. Play together. Set aside some time just for fun.

8. Focus on students. Remind them to reflect on the value of their Catholic education.

9. Recognize teachers. Acknowledge the tremendous difference their service makes in the school’s ability to offer high-quality, faith-filled education.

10. Involve families. Schools and families count on each other to reinforce shared values. Thank families for choosing your school and supporting your efforts to educate their children.

11. Single out supporters. Show your appreciation for members of the parish and the community who make your school stronger through their volunteer efforts and support.

12. Extend the feeling throughout the school year. Catholic Schools Week is not the only time to recognize what makes Catholic education special. Instill that feeling in your school community every day.

Courtesy of the National Catholic Education Association

This year marks the 40th anniversary of National Catholic Schools Week, the annual celebration of Catholic education that starts the last Sunday in January.

“National Catholic Schools Week is a great tradition in Catholic education,” said Robert Bimonte, FSC, president of National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). “It was started 40 years ago to underscore that Catholic schools are a great gift to the church and to the nation.”

Schools typically observe with masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to the church, communities and nation.

“The theme this year — Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service — is especially appropriate since these attributes are integral components of a Catholic education and the measures by which any Catholic school can be judged,” Bimonte said.

The theme, which will be used for at least three years, was developed in response to member requests for a theme and logo that would last more than a year. The new brand, which is especially appropriate given this year is the 40th anniversary, will provide opportunities for branding.

The theme encompasses several concepts that are at the heart of a Catholic education. First, schools are communities — small families in their own right, but also members of the larger community of home, church, city and nation.

Catholic Schools Week Service Challenge

The NCEA is asking schools to mark this milestone by pledging hours of service.

“Catholic schools have a rich history of teaching students the value of service, and we’ve taken the opportunity of this 40th anniversary of NCSW to encourage our students to mark the week with 40 hours of service in their communities,” Bimonte said. “Or schools may opt to combine 20 hours of service with 20 hours of prayer.”

The schools rely on their communities for the support and resources that enable them to flourish and educate tomorrow’s leaders. By conducting service activities in the local community, students can see what their efforts can accomplish and help better their communities.

Research organizations. Determine the greatest needs and where student efforts can make a real difference. Contact the diocesan schools office or a local charity for suggestions on age-appropriate activities for your students. Ask school board members, parents and teachers for suggestions. Publicize your service efforts with a banner at your school or student-designed T-shirts. Invite members of the parish and local community to join to make it a true community endeavor.

“We’ve already heard that schools are planning drives to stock local food pantries, neighborhood cleanup programs and visits to senior centers,” Bimonte said. “These are activities they support year round, but the potential is wonderful if more than 6,600 Catholic schools across the country contribute 40 hours of service!”

For more information, visit www.ncea.org/our-services/catholic-schools-week.