Sunday, Jan. 28, marked the first day of a weeklong celebration jam-packed with festivities for most Catholic-school students in the Finger Lakes region.
Many parishes kicked off Catholic Schools Week that day by inviting representatives from their local schools to speak at Masses and attend receptions and coffee hours afterwards.
Several local businesspeople helped students at Ss. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic School in Auburn kick off their in-school activities by visiting the school Jan. 29 for Career Day, the same day that students at St. Michael School in Penn Yan celebrated their enthusiasm for Catholic education with an ice-cream social.
The next day, middle-school students at St. Joseph School in Auburn invited their parents and relatives to see their classrooms and enjoy a Special Persons Day lunch at the school, and on Jan. 31 Geneva’s St. Francis-St. Stephen School welcomed Christian musician Corey Comer to St. Stephen Church for a private concert.
Children at St. John Bosco School in Seneca Falls wore summer clothing to school Feb. 1 and had an indoor picnic. Meanwhile, students at St. Mary School in Canandaigua enjoyed North and South American dishes during a schoolwide cultural luncheon, and the seventh and eighth grades competed against each other in a volleyball game the next day.
Students at St. Michael School in Newark planned to conclude Catholic Schools Week with a Feb. 3 fashion show in the school’s gymnasium.
Parents, friends, relatives and community members were invited to many of the schools’ Catholic Schools Week events, and Jan. 31 was “Visit a Catholic School Day” at schools throughout the diocese.
Catholic Schools Week provides a good opportunity for schools to show the community what they’re doing, said Kathleen Coye, principal at St. Joseph.
“I think we need to put the good news about Catholic schools into the community, and this is one way of doing it,” Coye said.
“Catholic Schools: The Good News in Education” was actually the theme of Catholic Schools Week 2007, and students at St. John Bosco took that theme to heart, said Mary Caffrey, principal. Students at Caffrey’s school kicked off Catholic Schools Week with a Jan. 29 prayer service. During the prayer service, each student wrote his or her name on the front of a star, and on the back listed a specific way he or she planned to spread the good news.
Since Catholic-school students are free to pray and talk about their faith in school, they are able to spread the good news of Jesus and the Gospel, as well as spread the word about their schools, she added.
Many schools celebrated Catholic Schools Week with a variety of unusual events. Middle-school students at St. Joseph were able to switch places with the adults at their school on Feb. 2, so a number of students planned to temporarily take over the roles of principal, secretary, school nurse and teachers, Coye said. Students at St. Michael School in Newark and St. Michael School in Penn Yan each participated in schoolwide bowling events, and students at Ss. Peter and Paul received a visit from local government officials.
Many schools also held book fairs during Catholic Schools Week, and students were able to purchase books, posters, bookmarks, stickers, pencils and other items from such companies as Scholastic Inc., which had set up displays in the schools. The faculty at St. John Bosco uses the book fair to help get students excited about Reading Week, which the school holds each March.
“Anything you can do to intrigue kids into opening a book is a good thing,” Caffrey said.
With its multitude of special events, it’s no surprise students and faculty members alike look forward to Catholic Schools Week, Coye said.
“There’s a climate of excitement in the schools. They get caught up in it. They’re pretty excited,” Caffrey added.
Catholic Schools Week is not just about unusual events, however, she said.
“When we talked about celebrating this year, we said that we wanted to celebrate the ordinary. What we do every day is good and important,” she said. “The things we do on a daily basis are pretty incredible. This is an opportunity to acknowledge to ourselves all the good things we do, and share them with others.”
“It’s just celebrating who we are,” Coye added.