Catholic Schools Week Celebration Ideas
An annual tradition that began in 1974, National Catholic Schools Week celebrates the positive impact Catholic education has on the students and the community. Sponsored by the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA), Catholic Schools Week is celebrated annually during the last week of January. The NCEA outlined key benefits to a Catholic Education: Learn, Serve, Lead, Succeed. The coordination of daily events for Catholic Schools week should be done with careful thought and preparation and admiration for the Catholic education while focusing on the attributes outlined by NCEA.
The first day, Sunday typically begins with a celebration mass. What makes this mass special is that it involves the whole community coming together to reflect on the value of Catholic education. This is an excellent way for the parishioners to support the students and demonstrate leadership through service and prayer.
As a pastoral leader, I encourage you to take time to prepare yourself, your families and children for mass by spending some time reading God’s word about gathering together. For example, 1 Thessalonians 5:11 states, “Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” Think of ways you can encourage the Catholic School administration and students throughout the week. Maybe it’s by bringing in coffee and donuts to the teachers’ lounge one day or by hosting a balloon sendoff activity. This event allows students to write letters of faith or encouragement on a balloon and release them into the sky for someone to find and be encouraged. This activity shares love and kindness throughout the community.
Catholic schools can boast about smaller class sizes, higher test scores, and greater graduation rates, but that would disregard the principle on which we stand, growing students to be life-long learners in faith, education, service, and leadership. So how do we do that? We teach the whole person. We do not teach to the book or to any standardized test. We teach the mind, body, and spirit.
- Mind-Personalized teaching methods can be implemented for each student. Let’s say students are learning about commas. You might see a group of students on the whiteboard constructing sentence formations. Another group creating a song about when to use commas and another group at tables surveying the newspaper for common comma usage. These are all great methods of teaching the same subject but tailored to the individual learning style of each student.
- Body-The Catholic school curriculum puts a lot of emphasis on self-discipline. Self-discipline is a major contributing factor to a person’s success whether in sports, work or life. This life-long skill provides the student with the ability to choose which is followed by an action or a non-action. We also encourage every student to participate in some form of physical activity with the hopes this develops a lifetime involvement in fitness as an individual or on a team. The Catholic Schools’ physical education program teaches the value of cooperation, perseverance, and teamwork.
- Spirit-Through daily scripture reading and rituals, Catholic education teaches students how to use the Bible as a tool for guidance and inspiration on a regular basis and throughout life. Students grow in the understanding that God is all around us and has a hand in our daily activities. As this awareness strengthens, students are prone to take this teaching into our communities and world and be a positive influence on society.
Various forms of the word service are mentioned in the Bible well over 1,100 times. In response to God placing such an importance on serving others, the Catholic education incorporates the idea of service into the curriculum that extends well beyond the school and church walls. Kindergarteners thru 12th graders are required to conduct a certain number of service hours each school year. Serving ideas can range from helping in the school, church, community or globally.
In 1 Timothy 3:1-7 God gives us clear direction on what attributes a leader should have. In this verse, God states taking on a leadership role is a noble task. We couldn’t agree more, that is why Catholic Schools have placed an importance on building quality leaders in its schools. This includes promoting virtue and sound character. Evidence shows that when children have a positive leader in their life, they are bound to have greater success and less anxiety. Consider a peer mentoring program bridging upper and lower aged classes. Teachers also play a significant role as leaders in the school. Being available for students, encouraging them and guiding their endeavors is essential for a student’s well-being.
There isn’t one way to measuring success, but we can empower people to succeed and reach their own ambitions. A simple way to do this is to bring former students, church leaders, and community members into the classroom as guest speakers to talk about their profession, faith, and education experience. Students can learn from each guest’s journey and find encouragement to learn more about various careers or about acquiring particular skills. For High School or College Catholic Schools consider holding a career fair and resume building classes for students to learn skills in interviewing, public speaking, negotiating, and securing a job.
Honor Staff Friday
- Write thank you letters
- Host a breakfast or lunch
- Hold an assembly where students share what they appreciate about their school and its leaders
- Decorate the doors of every teacher and staff member
- Have a parade in their honor. Have students line the hallways while honored guests parade throughout the school to cheers of appreciation
Community Celebration Saturday
This is a great way to extend the love of Christ to those beyond the walls of the school or church. Host an event that invites the whole community to come together to celebrate as one. A great way to do this is to host a fun fair. Have each classroom sponsor a game or event. Include student volunteer to run the events. Give away tickets at each event/game that guests can collect and redeem for a prize. Divide a gym with portable walls to section off game areas, eating rooms and a prize giveaway station. By having the event in one large room limits access throughout the school. Add a few inflatables outside or host a movie night on the lawn in the evening. This event should be about fun and uniting together as Christ has called us to do.
We understand all Catholic Schools do not look or act alike. What they do have in common is the ground on which they stand. This principle governs the education and development of the students to be life-long learners of Christ and knowledge, to serve others, and to be of good character. May we all come together during Catholic Schools Week to celebrate and honor Catholic education.