Plum school prepares for Catholic Schools Week activities

| Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 9:48 p.m.

Ashley Mariuzza views Catholic Schools Week in a couple of ways.

“It is so much fun, and you learn how to appreciate the privilege of going to Catholic school,” said Ashley, 14, an eighth-grader at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Plum.

Students and staff at St. John are getting ready for Catholic Schools Week from Jan. 26 to Feb. 1.

The school has 220 students in preschool through the eighth grade.

The week includes both educational and fun activities.

The theme for National Catholic Schools Week is: “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”

Principal Theresa Szmed said St. John staff and students live the theme each day.

“We are a community of faith, and the entire curriculum is built around including faith and values into every instructional area,” Szmed said.

For example, a lesson in poetry incorporates values, Szmed said.

Szmed said service also is a consideration each day.

Students have opportunities to perform acts of service within the walls of St. John, as well as in the community, she said.

“Students help teach in the preschool, work on fundraisers, volunteer at festivals in the community and work in people's yards,” Szmed said.

Szmed said the activities for Catholic Schools Week are structured to be both educational and entertaining.

“It's fun for the kids and instructional,” she said.

The scheduled activities include things ranging from a lesson in the Pitt Mobile Lab to a presentation by Joe Wos, a cartoonist and storyteller.

The week also includes activities outside the school.

Seventh- and eighth-graders will go on a ski trip. Sixth-graders will go bowling.

Catholic Schools Week coincides with National School Choice Week. Szmed said the two concepts are perfect as celebrated together.

“The Catholic school system is choice,” Szmed said.

Nicolas Schneiderlochner, 11, a fifth-grader, said the activities during Catholic Schools Week help students kick back a bit before standardized testing is conducted in the spring.

“It's a fun time for students to relax a little before the Terra Nova (testing),” said Nicolas, of Plum.

Maria Goldstein, 8, a second-grader, looks forward to bringing her favorite electronic item during Catholic Schools Week.

“I brought my iPad and (Nintendo) DS” last year,” Goldstein said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or

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