Pictured: Keli McCann, Annunciation Development Director and Annunciation Catholic School students with the Phoenix Suns Gorilla

National Catholic Schools Week is celebrated at Catholic schools throughout the country every year.  This year, it kicked off on Sunday January 26 and ran through February 1.  National Catholic Schools Week originated in 1974 and often has a specific theme. This year’s theme is Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed. Typically, schools celebrate for the entire week with different activities each day.  Overall, the celebrations are meant to focus on the value Catholic education adds to our society.  Catholic schools provide an opportunity for children to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ, engage in strong academic preparation, provide service to the community, and become aware of the unique gifts they possess.  Catholic schools boast a 99% graduation rate, with 97% going on the college or military service, and 1000s of hours each year given to the community through service.  In the Diocese of Phoenix, Catholic schools had many different activities happening to celebrate and promote their schools during Catholic Schools Week!

In addition to two diocesan events that occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday of Catholic Schools Week, individual schools were busy with activities on their campuses.  While all schools in the diocese were invited to participate in the Diocesan Spelling Bee and the Catholic Schools Week Rally at Wesley Bolin Plaza to thank legislators who support school choice, schools hosted grandparents, celebrated special masses, and honored members of the community, among other events.  Each school designated a day to celebrate principals, administrators, staff, teachers, families, and students in various ways.

At Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glendale, Student Council members showed their leadership by hosting a carnival for all students. They also represented their school at the Diocesan Mass at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral and the Rally downtown.  There was also a Jog-a-thon for all students, and parents received thank you notes from their children for sending them to Catholic school.

In Cave Creek, students at Annunciation Catholic School participated in a week filled with gratitude, giving, and games!  Families contributed to a winter clothing drive to support St. Michael’s Indian School near the Navajo reservation in northeast Arizona. Many thank you notes were written by Annunciation Catholic School students to honor servicemen and women, their priests and seminarians, and their parents!  ACS students were surprised in a pep rally by the Phoenix Suns Gorilla.  ACS was featured as a Phoenix Suns Charity at the game on January 31 and celebrated Family Fun Night.

A little further north in Cottonwood, Arizona, the Immaculate Conception Catholic School community honored two different parishes to start and end the week-long celebration.  “This is a tradition to thank Immaculate Conception Catholic Parish and St. John Vianney Catholic Parish in Sedona for their continuous commitment in advancing the school’s mission,” said principal Antonio Hernandez.  At the masses, representatives from each grade offered a gift of gratitude for the parish’s support in helping them receive a quality Catholic education. Students participated as lectors and gift bearers, attended mass in school uniform, and sat as one unified school community.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Scottsdale, amidst service projects, grandparents’ and special persons’ mass, and a variety of activities to make everyone in their community feel appreciated, added a new event to Catholic Schools Week honorariums this year.  “Student Council suggested Support the Blue day,” said Principal Donna Lauro of an effort to support 3 Scottsdale police officers participating in the Police Unity Tour “We Ride for Those Who Died.”  Students raised $1000 to support National Law Enforcement Officers participating in the bike ride from New Jersey to Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile in the west valley of Phoenix, St. Jerome Catholic School enjoyed a Star Wars-themed Teacher Appreciation Day and a History Fair for students in grades 3 through 8.  However, the big event for Catholic Schools Week is Grandparents’ Day.  St. Jerome Principal Maureen Degrose exclaimed, “The Grandparents LOVED it!” They were showered with gratitude, attended mass with the students and staff, and were entertained by the school musical, Annie.

National Catholic Schools Week looks different in every school, but the purpose remains the same.  Honoring the core values of Catholic education through gratitude, prayer, service, and community can be found in every Catholic school throughout the country during this special week.

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Phoenix are currently enrolling students for next school year.  If education through spiritual nourishment, academic excellence, strong community, and service to others appeals to your family values, check out Catholic school options near you.