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  • Writer's pictureCT Parent Magazine

Kids Rule at Catholic School

There is a variety of private schools that are available to enhance your child’s education. But one category will benefit your child not only academically but spiritually as well — a Catholic education. This year National Catholic Schools week is celebrated from January 26 through February 1. With the theme of Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed., this is the perfect time to discover what a Catholic school education is all about.

More than 6,300 Catholic schools across the country provide academic excellence and faith-filled education to over 1.8 million students nationwide. Catholic schools benefit children, families, communities, the nation and the church. They have shown unparalleled success in educating children, promoting a lifelong commitment to faith and virtue and encouraging civic involvement.

Connecticut Parent Magazine has contacted some local Catholic schools to get a first-hand look at what a Catholic education truly means.

The Advantages of a Catholic School Education

One of the primary benefits of a Catholic school education is the small class size and low student to teacher ratios. This enables more individualized attention and the knowledge that each student is known and understood. According to Carissa Civitello at St. Rita School in Hamden, Catholic schools provide students with a safe and nurturing environment of learning and personal growth. They offer a balanced academic curriculum that integrates faith, culture and life. Students have the opportunity to be comfortable, ask questions and be present in their environment.

St Joseph High School in Trumbull prepares young men and women to realize their potential, help them to excel in higher education, and provides a foundation to guide them throughout their lives. Rachel Ambrosio of St. Catherine of Siena School (SCSS) in Trumbull builds on the benefits of the smaller size by allowing students, teachers and families to forge strong, personal relationships that shape the whole child, academically, emotionally and spiritually. She explains that faith is central to SCSS, yet many students who attend the school are not Catholic. Their parents value the strong moral compass that guides the teaching and learning, and feel that these values should be central to a child’s education.

Educational Philosophies

Taryn Duncan at The Catholic Academy of New Haven, shares that the school provides an innovative academic program where God is present in every class. By focusing on the areas of Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STREAM), they build a strong foundation in knowledge and promotes critical thinking, collaboration and leadership skills for the future.

St. Aloysius School in New Canaan provides learning for life. They offer a traditional curriculum in each of the core subjects as well as religion.

The philosophy of Xavier High School in Middletown is based on the following goals — to educate the whole person, spirit, mind and body within a Christian framework; to expose students to various cultures in a diverse global community; to form students who are sensitive to the needs of all human beings; to encourage students to respond to the call of the gospel message through community service; to help students develop individual decision making skills for the challenges of the future; and to prepare students for the rapidly changing information age of the

21st century.

What is a Typical Day Like?

Walking down the halls of Saint Bernadette School in New Haven you will witness a calm, secure and organized environment. Children are eager to learn and teachers are excited about teaching. At St. Aloysius, prayer is an integral part of daily life. They also show their students how to live their faith, beginning with small acts of kindness as well as participating in significant community service projects. Their focus on spiritual development helps students develop the right moral compass to guide their decisions big and small.

Catholic Academy of New Haven also begins each day together in prayer. Students then advance through their courses/subject areas. They integrate STREAM strategies and challenges, where students will have an art class, might work with reading buddies and build great relationships with each other and their teachers.

The faculty and staff at St Joseph High School work collaboratively to create student-centered classrooms where students are actively engaged in their own learning. The teachers respect each students’ diverse learning style, and design and implement a variety of differentiated strategies and activities to meet the needs of all learners.

Each day students at St. Catherine of Siena School are personally greeted by staff members, including the principal who knows each and every student by name.

The day begins and ends in prayer, while attending Mass on the First Friday of each month. Since students range from PreK to grade 8, there are many opportunities for younger students to work with older students who serve as role models. These buddies forge a strong sense of community.

Parents are Involved, Too

Parental involvement is very important at all of the schools. At St. Rita School, they encourage parents and family members to become active and take part in the educational process of the students. They can organize fun and

fundraising events, volunteer inside the classroom and join the Home and School Association.

Parents at St. Catherine of Siena School find that it is a family-centered community. With events such as the annual Movie Night, Pizza with Santa, Apple Fun Run and the Annual Golf Outing, there is no shortage of opportunities for family and parental involvement.

St. Aloysius School is also a close-knit community. Parents, teachers and staff all share a common set of values and a steadfast commitment to the school. With all of the parent volunteers, they enjoy a tremendous community spirit with students and families supporting each other across grade levels. St. Bernadette’s school community extends far beyond the classroom walls. Parents work with the faculty to play a critical role in the academic and spiritual growth of their child.

Parents at Catholic Academy of New Haven are involved in the school as much as they can by participating in special events, field trips, class activities and coming to the STREAM showcase nights. In addition, they can become active in the Home School Association.

A Catholic Education Prepares Students for the Future

As a Catholic college preparatory school, Xavier High School fosters the spiritual, academic and physical growth of its students, and challenges them to use their God-given talents in service to others so that each graduate is fully prepared to respond to the Christian call of the school motto, “Be a Man.”

By providing a rigorous academic approach through the STREAM eductional model, The Catholic Academy of New Haven promotes strong Catholic values. They strive to cultivate service-oriented students, who have the knowledge, skills and desire to create positive change in the world.

St. Rita School sets high standards for student achievement that will lead them to future success. Students are prepared to be positive leaders and role models. Community involvement and participation is encouraged, in addition to being morally responsible and innovative thinkers.

Students at St. Catherine of Siena School are treated like family and join a community rooted in Catholic values. They leave well-prepared for the academic rigors they will face in high school and beyond.

Technology in the Classroom

Catholic schools are preparing students for the high tech world of the 21st century. Technology is woven into the curriculums at a very young age. The wireless campus at St. Bernadette School offers interactive white-board technology and a full computer lab for all grades. There are document cameras in every classroom and students have the use of iPads and even learn robotics. St. Aloysius School goes beyond the established national educational standards by integrating disciplines and incorporating Smart Board technology and Apple Creativity apps into the classroom.

Technology is utilized in all classes as a learning tool at Catholic Academy of New Haven. They have interactive Smart Boards in every classroom, in addition to Chromebooks and tablets for the students to use. They also offer a robotics program, a 3D printer and other interactive software. Beyond the devices, the student are taught about the appropriate use of technology and reinforce it as a tool to communicate and work positively in the community.

St. Rita School also fully integrates technology into classroom learning. Students have access to iPads during each school day in addition to Chromebooks, Chrome desktops and Smart Board technology. Robots and coding devices are introduced

to students throughout each grade level. They learn how to use a wide range of programs and techniques for communication, collaboration and creativity.

The campus at Xavier High School houses five science labs in addition to a Robotics workshop equipped with a 3D printer, a dedicated art studio and a state-of-the-art video production studio, all of which ensures that the students are receiving a multi-faceted high school experience.

Catholic schools have shown unparalleled success in educating children, promoting a lifelong commitment to faith and virtue and encouraging civic involvement. Over and over again, research indicates that Catholic school students are academically successful and positive contributors to society.


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