A week of events, open houses and the celebration of the Catholic education
By Lisa Cipriano
It’s an annual week when Catholic schools show their pride to the outside.
National Catholic Schools Week is celebrated every year beginning on the last Sunday in January and runs for an entire week. It’s an annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States and it’s been happening since 1974.
According to the National Catholic Education Association, it’s a time for schools to focus on the value that Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to the church, our communities and our nation.
This upcoming year, the event will take place from January 28 to February 3 under the theme of: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.
“It’s way to give exposure and highlight what we do with students spiritually and academically to our current families and any new families who may be seeking a different environment for their school-age kids,” explained Robert Pyles, Principal of Our Lady of Refuge School in Orchard Lake.
Our Lady of Refuge serves 295 students, both boys and girls, from preschool to grade eight with a more than 50 percent Chaldean student population.
“The students want it to be a fun experience,” said Pyles. “It starts with a pep rally for our basketball team the Friday before which is open to families. On Sunday, we open up our building for an open house with our students as tour guides where we highlight what we do for current and interested new families. There is a student appreciation day where they can wear jeans and their favorite sports jerseys, game days, crazy hair and pajama days, a teacher appreciation day, a bake sale, masses, including one at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit that all of the schools can send representatives to participate in and come together.”
Sharon Szuba is principal of the 227 student St. Fabian Catholic School in Farmington Hills, which also is preschool through eighth grade with about half of its students being Chaldean.
“We promote our school with newspaper ads, radio ads, mailings, lawn signs at the homes of our current families, and closer to home within our own parish,” Szuba explained. “Our Catholic Schools Week celebration begins with an open house on Sunday where we invite anyone in our community to come see what St. Fabian has to offer. We have refreshments, tours, information tables and we open the building to welcome new interested families or anyone who would simply like to see what we are about.”
While all are under the doctrine of the Roman Catholic faith and guided by the Archdiocese of Detroit locally, each school is individual and its celebration of Catholic Schools Week represents that individuality.
St. Catherine of Siena Academy is an all-girls college prep high school in Wixom with students grade nine through 12. Karen Ervin is the principal of its 230 students with about a 20 percent Chaldean student population.
“Catholic Schools Week, to me, is really an opportunity to show the community and the world what it is what we’re doing here for the girls,” said Ervin. “Each of them gets a webpage where they create a video or write a message about what Catholic school means to them. We also do a sponsorship or fundraiser to help others who want to go to school here and be part of our sisterhood. It’s a way for the girls to educate others and give their testimony on why Catholic schools are important and why it’s important for them to go here. We also do a special mass that week and an open house for the community to come and be a part of. It is a big deal for us.”
There also is Catholic Schools Week fun to be had that week at St. Catherine of Siena. “The girls do mini assemblies every day under the annual theme of the week. So, every year it’s a little different focus. There is also a pep rally to get them all fired up for the week ahead,” Ervin added.
The entire essence of the value of a Catholic school education and it’s week of pride and outreach is best summed up by Szuba.
“Catholic Schools’ Week showcases the choices that our families make to commit not only to the education of their children, but the commitment to Catholic Education. It is truly a sacrifice for many of our families to send their children to a Catholic school, but a sacrifice that is returned tenfold through the evidence of Jesus’ teachings in our daily interaction at school,” concluded Szuba.