Students return to classroom for growth in wisdom, faith
By Ambria Hammel | Aug. 16, 2010 | The Catholic Sun
After climbing her way through the ranks, Danage Norwood-Pearson came to orientation day Aug. 9, ready for her senior year at St. Mary’s High School.
“I like my classes. They’re going to be fun,” Norwood-Pearson said during break after fourth period.
She said theology class should be especially fun because of the students and the fact that the teacher is one of St. Mary’s newest faculty members: Fr. Robert Bolding, campus chaplain.
Mixing academics, faith and fellowship is what a Catholic education is all about, administrators and teachers throughout the diocese reminded students when school resumed this month.
“If we all pray together and work together, we will all be celebrating together” on graduation day, Suzanne Fessler, principal at St. Mary’s, told the senior class.
Classes at some diocesan schools are facing declining enrollment, but that didn’t stop students at every grade level from coming prepared for the demands of a new academic year.
Norwood-Pearson was one student among many who had summer homework. She also got right back into athletics as a volleyball player.
Others, like Bourgade freshman Megan Burke, who also plans to play volleyball, spent the final weeks of summer vacation organizing school supplies and buying new uniforms.
“I try them on about twice a week just for fun,” she said during a
campus cleanup day
July 31. Burke, a Ss. Simon and Jude alumna, has worn school uniforms all of her life.
Getting back into a uniform was one thing St. Mary’s freshman Daniel Wright dreaded. The public school transfer wore school uniforms through seventh grade and enjoyed free dress last year.
Despite the uniform, Wright — who spent his final days of summer in drills with the football team — looks forward to being successful on and off the field.
Megan Nestor, a sophomore at Xavier College Preparatory, said her time at cheer camp in early July helped the team grow closer. She looked forward to seeing the rest of her friends too and getting back into the school rhythm.
That daily routine is all new for young learners at Our Lady of the Lake Preschool and Kindergarten in Lake Havasu City. The 10-year-old facility welcomed its first kindergarten class earlier this month.
“We have been very pleased with the support of our community,” Deacon Jeff Arner, director, said of the expansion, noting the more than $7,000 it raised in start up costs. “The parents just wish their children could just stay here with a pre-K through 12th grade Catholic school.”
Deacon Jeff spent the early weeks of summer pushing the June 30 tax credit deadline to help families finance Catholic education. Parishioners contributed more than $36,000 in state tax dollars to the school through the Catholic Tuition Organization of the Diocese of Phoenix.
Kathryn Makar called Catholic school “mandatory” for children in today’s social climate where morality appears to take low priority. The long-time Our Lady of Mount Carmel parishioner said she always knew about the school, but admitted, “I didn’t know it was this good until we experienced it.”
Makar said families receive loving support in raising their children and the students, like her fourth-grade daughter, Angela, learn about charity and faith.
“The best thing is that you make friendships and that they’re faith-filled,” Makar said.
The senior class president at St. Mary’s agreed that it’s important to be a faith-filled student. He challenged fellow seniors to take ownership of the school as they all work toward one goal: a relationship with Christ.
“He’s above all of your problems. He’s above all of your worries, everything that’s going on in your life,” Estevan Wetzel said during senior orientation. “Seek God in this school. You can find Him.”
Students at Most Holy Trinity planned to be Christ for one another this school year, especially its 20 new students. The student council planned ways to welcome them and increase overall school spirit during the first two weeks.
“I’m excited for the new students,” said seventh-grader Hayley Brizzee, vice president of the school council. “We’re a really small school, so when new students come in, it’s ‘welcome to our family.’”
The students will also welcome three young women religious from the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity to the school later this month. Sisters Mary Emmanuel Schmidt, Alison Marie Conemac and Maria Victoria Tate will teach the preschool students.
The gray-habited sisters, two of whom play the guitar, are meant to complement the parish priests from the same order.
“We try to show how the vocations work together and they complement one another” including the laity, said Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT, superior of the order.
Fr. John Lankeit, pastor at Ss. Simon and Jude School, touched on the role of the laity, particularly parents, when it comes to instruction in the faith during the TV Mass Aug. 8. Priests and religious are there to support them, he said, but parents are the first teachers of the faith.
Fr. Lankeit reminded them that children learn best by example.
“Parents, you have been charged with the awesome duty of getting your kids to heaven… You are not just caretakers of children, but stewards of souls,” Fr. Lankeit said. “Is there anything greater to be entrusted with than the immortal souls of your children?”
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