The fourth-grade class of teacher Lauren Bucaro practices a dance to 'Tootsie Roll' on Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, as part of their physical fitness dance exhibition that will be staged at St. Ireneaus School in Oakmont for Catholic Schools Week during the week of Jan. 27, 2013.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Since 1974, Catholic schools around the country have taken a week to celebrate their existence and proclaim their message.
Sunday marks the official start of this year's Catholic Schools Week. This year's theme is “Catholic Schools: Raise the Standards.”
Catholic Schools Week focuses on fun and humanitarianism, said Patrice Majeran, the principal at Cardinal Maida Academy in Vandergrift.
“Our kids definitely look forward to it,” Majeran said. “We try to promote what we are doing here. We're celebrating.”
Activities for the week include a day when students can wear their pajamas to school, and a day featuring an ice cream party.
But Catholic Schools Week isn't all fun and games for Cardinal Maida's 100 students in grades preschool through sixth, Majeran said.
“On Monday, the students in third to sixth grades are going to make journals for parents of babies in the NIC Unit at Children's Hospital,” she said. “And students in preschool to second grade are going to decorate delivery bags for Meals on Wheels.”
At St. Irenaeus School in Oakmont, students will get to experience Japanese culture.
“On Wednesday, members of the Japan Society in Pittsburgh are coming to our school,” said Sister Carol Ann Papp, school principal. “They have the whole day planned for them.”
Papp said St. Irenaeus is using this year's Catholic School's Week Theme for each school day.
“Monday, for example, is ‘Standing Up For Others,' ” she said, “and our students can donate $1 to cancer research and wear their favorite hat to school.”
At Mary Queen of Apostles School in New Kensington, the popular event “Jump Rope for Heart” will be back for another Catholic Schools Week, said Principal Cathy Collett.
“The students go through different stages of activities, and learn about healthy activities andeating,” Collett said. “They take pledges and raise money for the American Heart Association.”
Like most of the Alle-Kiski Valley's Catholic schools — including Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, in Harrison, and St. John the Baptist in Plum — Mary Queen of Apostles will kick off the week Sunday with a Mass and open house.
“The open house allows us to showcase work that our students have done over the last months,” Collett said. “It gives grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles the chance to visit. It also allows for prospective families to look at what we do here.
“It's time to be proud.”
R.A. Monti is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
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