(A Contribution from the “Duluth Parish Neighbors'” Magazine)
When choosing a school for their child, there are many factors that parents consider. How strong are the academics? What about the teachers and administration? What is the mission of the school and how is it fulfilled?
And above all else, parents must ask: will it be a good fit for my child and our family?
When parents today are faced with more educational opportunities and school choices, these questions are important to answer. Upon reflection and examination, it will quickly come to light that Catholic schools stand out in a number of ways. Here are 5 reasons that Catholic schools are worth the investment:
1. Daily Practicing of Religion
Walking down the halls of Stella Maris Academy, it is not uncommon to hear young voices joined together in prayer – upon arrival in the morning, before lunch, during religion lessons and throughout the day. Students have the opportunity to practice their religion openly in the classroom, whether it is by reading books about Jesus, learning about God during classroom lessons or praying for those in need.
These daily practices are extremely special, as exemplified in this email that SMA recently received from a parent:
“I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for providing such incredible faith-filled moments like the one I witnessed today. I attended school Mass at the Cathedral, followed by Adoration. It was one of the most beautiful examples of praise and worship that I’ve watched our school share together. Watching so many children choose to kneel alongside Father Jeremy at the Altar and pray among their peers was something so special.”
2. Character & Moral Development
Stella Maris Academy focuses on educating the whole child through four pillars of education: intellectual, spiritual, human and the care of others through stewardship. These four pillars share equal importance and are interconnected. When children lead their class in the Rosary, they are not just developing their religious skills; they are building confidence. When they spend time performing service work for their community, they are not just caring for others; they are building character. When a child enters Catholic school, they are able to learn and grow in such a way that sets them on a life-long path of intellectual curiosity, spiritual and humanistic growth, and service to others.
3. Culture of Service
A culture of service is a gift one will find in every Catholic school. Stella Maris Academy is no different. Students partake in several major service projects throughout the year, including a school-wide day of community cleaning. They also perform numerous smaller projects, such as food drives, decorating Valentines for police officers, packing boxes for Feed My Starving Children and Operation Christmas Child, and making tie blankets for residents in assisted-living homes.
The gift of serving others is precious and appreciated, as exemplified in this email received from Silver Bay Veterans Home, where blankets for veterans were recently delivered:
“I would just like to thank you all on behalf of the residents here at the Silver Bay Veterans Home. The residents here LOVED the blankets and were very appreciative of the snack bags. They had a hard time choosing between all the wonderful colors and patterns … As I was handing out the blankets to the residents, I also received many compliments from the staff saying how beautiful and soft they were!”
4. Strong Community
When a child steps in to Stella Maris Academy, they will find themselves immediately enmeshed in an active and loving community. The mixture of small class sizes, passionate faculty and a shared devotion to Catholic education creates a strong sense of fellowship. Stella Maris Academy’s vibrant school community is strengthened by having outside support from parishes, alumni and community members. The students benefit knowing that they are a part of a larger community. That outside support is cultivated and cherished knowing that SMA could not fulfill its mission without the support of others.
5. Rigorous Academics
Historically, Stella Maris Academy students have performed in the top 85th percentile and higher of national academic norms and 1.5 to 2.0 grade equivalents above their current grade placement. This is not uncommon in Catholic schools. Teachers stress rigorous academics and work closely with students to ensure they are fully supported. Students thrive in an environment where they are held to challenging expectations and know that they will be given the help they need to succeed. Catholic schools take great pride in their historically outstanding academics.
Pretzel Making & The Legend Surrounding Them
Last week, Ms. Zanardi’s 3rd grade class read a story called “Brother Giovanni’s Little Reward: How the Pretzel was Born.” The kids earned a pretzel as a “little reward” when they learned their prayers, because the legend says that the pretzel shape resembles children praying with their arms folded on their chests.
Holy Rosary Campus Kindergarten Shadow Stations
A special thank you to Mrs. Tessier & Mrs. Morris for this poignant reenactment of Jesus’ walk to Calvary. This project involved the help of several older students as narrators but was primarily our kindergarteners who created the shadows.
Thank you, too, to Emily Patrick who was kind enough to turn this into a video for us!
Stella Maris wishes all of you a happy Holy Week.