Our local Catholic schools work together to create a cohesive experience with long-term benefits. Grade school principals share their points of view on how students and families can enjoy the Catholic education experience from K-12.
“Nurturing these relationships between our six Catholic schools is a top priority for our principals, administrators and pastors because it benefits our entire Catholic community. All of us—administrators, faculty, parents and faithful Catholics—are passionate about making sure as many students as possible can benefit from attending Catholic schools. ”
“Our grade schools are such an important part of our community, and we’re so proud of the work they are doing to provide unique opportunities in faith, service and academics to our youngest Catholic school students,” says Director of Admissions Jonathan Nagy.
He continues, “The time we spend partnering and collaborating with grade school administrators and faculty and, of course, the time our students get to spend together, is so valuable to our community as a whole. Keeping these relationships strong helps to ensure that families recognize the opportunity for their children to experience Catholic education from grade school through high school graduation.”
Loretto’s St. Michael School Principal Renee Phister agrees, highlighting that the availability of Catholic schools for all grades means “the tradition of a Catholic education is nurtured throughout all the formative years of schooling.” She says, “as the ‘Faith Foundation’ is built and strengthened, the Catholic faith thrives from generation to generation.”
The opportunity to learn in a faith-based environment is available even to the youngest learners at pre-K programs in our Catholic grade schools.
Part of Nagy’s role at BC is to work with grade school principals on creating meaningful interactions among students. This work includes many traditional events and activities, like the annual Lenten Retreat for grades 6-8, a Halloween party, Read Across America Day, a regular newsletter for grade schoolers, visits to the grade schools, and opportunities to participate in junior high sports programs through BC.
Grade school students in grades 6-8 also head to BC for an Academic Visit, which helps them get a valuable preview of the high school experience. They also enjoy Grade School Night at a home football game and a home basketball game. Grade school students receive a Junior Husky Membership card that offers them free admission to any home sporting event.
“We love to welcome the grade schools to our campus, and our students equally enjoy the chance to go back to their grade schools,” Nagy says. “Read Across America is an annual event for BC students to read at their home grade schools. Grade school students also visit for special presentations like drug and alcohol prevention programs. ”
All Saints Principal Kathy Maurer says, in addition to formal participation in activities, she promotes BC events and encourages students to visit any chance they get. “Going to sporting events and drama productions gives students a view into the opportunities available to them in grades 9-12,” she says.
Bringing their perspective to the table, grade school administrators often make suggestions to Nagy. “Last year the grade schools recommended an event for students in the intermediate grades,” shares Holy Name School Principal Robin McMullen. “As a result, BC held its first annual Field Day for grades 4 and 5 last spring. It was a great success.”
Theresa Burba, Principal at Northern Cambria Catholic, concurs. “Our students loved the First Annual Field Day last Spring. This was an opportunity for students in that grade range to interact one-on-one with BC students and have fun while doing it.”
Also new in the past year, according to Phister, the St. Michael School Children’s Choir had a chance to join BC’s Liturgical Choir for a School Mass at the high school. “Our students were so happy to have this experience. They were able to share their love for music and learn from the high school students. They felt appreciated and like they were part of a larger Catholic school community.”
Spending time at BC and with BC students does more than prepare younger students for high school. “Hearing about and having positive experiences with Catholic high school students plants a ‘faith seed’ that is continually nourished,” says Phister.
According to Burba, “Working closely with Bishop Carroll allows the students to build lasting friendships long before they ever get to 9th grade. We are so fortunate to be able to offer them these opportunities.”
Nagy sums it up this way: “Nurturing these relationships between our six Catholic schools is a top priority for our principals, administrators and pastors because it benefits our entire Catholic community. All of us—administrators, faculty, parents and faithful Catholics—are passionate about making sure as many students as possible can benefit from attending Catholic schools. No matter which individual school you serve, keeping this opportunity available and accessible, and working together to further develop the local K-12 Catholic school experience is what it’s all about. I’m grateful to work with the dedicated, hard-working principals at each of our grade schools on this important mission.”