For students at St. Patrick School, last week was one big party. It was Catholic Schools Week, and the local P-8 school marked the occasion with theme days, special activities and a legislative visit.
Annual Week Celebrated Nationwide
Catholic Schools Week has been celebrated annually in the United States since 1974. Sponsored by the National Catholic Education Association, the event is held as an opportunity to reflect on the positive impact of Catholic schools on students, families and communities. For 2017, the national theme was “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”
Locally, schools in the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids have experienced in an upswing in enrollment during the past two years. That’s after a decade of declining numbers, and the closure of several schools, including St. Joseph School in Belding.
“Not every community has a Catholic school,” says Scott Czarnopys, principal of St. Patrick School. “We’re fortunate that we not only have a Catholic school here, but we’ve been able to create an environment in which our students excel.” He notes test scores for St. Patrick students are among the highest in the diocese and far exceed national averages.
St. Patrick Students Get a Week Out of the Ordinary
St. Patrick School kicked off their Catholic Schools Week celebration with a weekend Hawaiian-themed carnival. Complete with games, bounce houses and an overflowing prize table, the event drew in both school and community members.
Then, as the week progressed, each day brought new special activities. Students, who are normally in uniforms, dressed for theme days that had them wearing everything from mismatched outfits to red, white and blue clothes to school spirit gear. There were dance breaks during classes, a schoolwide screening of Finding Dory and donuts to be enjoyed while older students paired up to read to younger students.
On Friday, the week concluded with a special VIP day. Each student was invited to bring a special guest to Friday Mass in the morning. Then, everyone headed over to a reception where cookies – as big as the kids’ heads, one participant noted – were served.
That afternoon, State Representative Tom Albert stopped by to present a special tribute to the school. “It was such a cool experience,” says Susan Stahlin, whose daughter is in the 6th grade. “It really made an impression on the kids that our state representative came to recognize the school.”
Catholic Schools Week is over, but parents and school staff say the spirit of service and unity which is a hallmark of the week will continue on all year long. To learn more, visit the St. Patrick School website.