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Holy Child students take talents beyond the standard in Bridgeville

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:34 p.m.
Sixth-grade students Ryan Fleming, 11, of South Fayette, left, and Julia Sarnowski, 11, of Bridgeville work on their family shields, which will be on display at Holy Child Catholic School during Catholic Schools Week. Randy Jarosz | For The Bridgeville Area News
Sixth-grade student Shawn Pollak, 12, of Carnegie colors in his family's shield that will be on display at Holy Child Catholic School during Catholic Schools Week, which begins Jan. 27. Randy Jarosz | For the Bridgeville Area News

Sister Barbara Anne Quinn cannot remember a time when Holy Child Catholic School on Station Street in Bridgeville did not celebrate Catholic Schools Week.

The energy and passion the one week of activities brings to the school and its students is something to cherish, she said.

“The way I see it,” said Sister Barbara Anne, principal at Holy Child for almost 30 years, “(Catholic Schools Week) is like a burst of energy in the middle of the winter that helps our students to see what we are doing here. For a brief period, it allows the students to take a step back and say, ‘Wow, aren't we great, look at what God has given us.”

Catholic Schools Week 2013 runs from Jan. 27 until Feb. 2. The national theme this year is “Catholic Schools Raise the Standards.” Holy Child's theme is, “Holy Child: Talents Beyond the Standards.”

For the entire week, the 120 students at Holy Child will have no homework but will participate in daily activities, many of which the students thought of and designed themselves, said teacher Mary Jo Shanafelt.

For instance, Shanafelt said, the students will design a “Hall of History” that will feature historic posters designed by the students.

Schools across the nation typically celebrate Catholic Schools Week with masses, open houses, and other activities for students.

Holy Child, opened in 1948 and once known as St. Agatha's Grade School, will begin its week with an open house this Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. The week will conclude on Feb. 1 with a career day, sponsored by the Holy Child Parent-Teacher Group.

During that day, each class will be visited by volunteer parents and friends who will come to tell them about their jobs or hobbies. About 50 people are already slated to take part, Sister Barbara Anne said.

In May, Holy Child Catholic School did something unique when it had a video conference with students at a Catholic school in Australia. The students had a chance to compare how they celebrate Catholic Schools Week, among other things, Sister Barbara Anne said.

“It amazes me that the kids in Australia are very knowledgeable of what happens here, much more so than the kids here are of what happens over there,” she said.

For the students, Catholic Schools Week is a way of celebrating the school and what it is like to attend Holy Child.

For Ryan Fleming, 11, a sixth-grader at Holy Child, Catholic Schools Week gives him a chance to “celebrate what it is to be a part of (Holy Child).”

“I like to be a part of the school. I like coming here. And when you get to really be involved in it, with Catholic Schools Week, it is extra special,” Fleming said.

Jeff Widmer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5810 or

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