Catholic Schools Week celebrated locally

Today marks the beginning of Catholic School’s Week across the United States with the theme of “Celebrate Service.”

Cheryl Landry with Vermilion Catholic High School said that there will be an opening Mass celebrated in the VC gym beginning at 8:00 a.m. that will also include the students of Mt. Carmel Elementary. Abbeville Mayor Mark Piazza will also be on-hand to proclaim January 25 - 31 as Catholic Schools Week in Abbeville.

Landry, working together with Catherine Miller of Mt. Carmel Elementary, said that there will be special activities every day this week. In addition to the daily activities, the Religion Festival projects will also be on display. Each grade level had a theme project to prepare that leads up to the Junior Class Church project. The juniors create an architectural model design of one of the Catholic churches in the area in an attempt to best replicate the structure of the church. The design, along with all the special features of that particular church such as stained glass windows or landscaping, includes both interior and exterior elements. For the interior viewing, the roof of each church is removable. The first place winners this year are C. J. Miller and Zachary Romaine with their design of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Erath.

Monday begins the festivities with Grand Parents Day at both schools, with an open-house atmosphere to invite everyone to see not only what the sporting events look like, but what the classrooms look like where all of the students take part in campus life. Mount Carmel is welcoming all parents, grandparents and alumni to attend this open-house that begins at 9:00 a.m. Vermilion Catholic is hosting the grandparents of current students only for their program that begins at 9:30 a.m. in the school auditorium.

Following the Mass, Vermilion Catholic will be re-dedicating the school library. The library will be named Prof Felix Frederick Library and Media Center in honor of Prof Felix, who taught at the school for over 50 years.

Tuesday features Scolaire Aster, which is a traveling French Astronomy Exhibit. The program will be available to the 7th - 12th grade students.

Wednesday is the day for the Living Rosary. The two schools will meet in the VC gym for the 1:15 ceremony. Parents, grandparents, alumni and friends are all invited to attend the service. This year, the two schools each made rosaries out of paper, with each paper bead having a prayer intention written upon it. The schools will exchange rosaries to pray for each other’s intentions.

Thursday afternoon will be the Academic Pep Rally. The rally begins at 1:00 p.m. in the VC gym. This year’s program includes the 7th - 12th grades and includes a slide show of the students as they talk about what they like best about their particular school. Parents are invited to attend.

Friday closes out the week-long activities with a surprise event that is being sponsored by the U. S. Army. Fun jumps and slides will be available for the students as well.

The two schools are also working with the Miles Peret Center this spring in a program called “Change for Miles”. Plastic drink bottles will be handed out for the students to deposit the change they have left over in their pocket at the end of the day to help raise funds to purchase items for cancer patients.

The schools are also planning to honor their supporters of the year, along with the teacher and students of the year. Stephen Domingue will be honored by both Mt. Carmel Elementary and Vermilion Catholic High School as a combined supporter of the year. At Vermilion Catholic, Lynn King is the supporter of the year; Mary Ellen Vincent is the teacher of the year, and Hailey Vincent is being recognized as the student of the year. Mt. Carmel is recognizing Kitty Prejean as their supporter of the year and Rachael David is the teacher of the year.

The National Catholic Educational Association answers the following questions about Catholic education:

Q: How many students are enrolled in Catholic educational programs at all levels -- schools, religious education programs, colleges and universities and seminaries? 
A: There are 7.6 million students in Catholic education at all levels.

Q: Where do Catholic educators stand on school choice?
A: Any educational reform efforts must include a commitment to parental rights in choosing schools for their children and assisting those who do not have the financial means to exercise choice. 

Q: What is the enrollment of Catholic schools? 
A: Total Catholic school student enrollment for the 2006-2007 academic year is 2,320,651.
 Enrollment is 1,682,412 in elementary school and 638,239 enrolled in secondary school

Q: How many Catholic schools are there? 
A: There are 7,498 Catholic schools; of these 6,288 were elementary/middle, and 1,210 were secondary.

Q: Where are the most Catholic schools located? 
A: Student Enrollment: Dioceses with The Twenty Largest Enrollments New York
, Chicago; 
Los Angeles; 
; Cleveland; 
St. Louis;
; New Orleans; 
; Miami
; St. Paul/Minneapolis
; Baltimore; Rockville Centre; 
Milwaukee; Washington, DC; 
San Francisco and 

Q: How many new schools opened last year? 
A: 36 new schools opened; 212 closed or consolidated during the 2006-2007 academic year.

Q: Why do parents choose Catholic schools for their children?
A: Faith formation, High academic standards; Values-added education; Safe school environment

Q: What percentage of Catholic secondary school students graduate? How many go on to college?
A: 99% graduation rate, 97% go to college

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