Faith and fun: Area Catholic schools to celebrate their mission

| Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012

Catholic schools around the Alle-Kiski Valley are ready to celebrate their mission.

Catholic Schools Week begins Sunday with the theme "Catholic School -- Faith, Academics, Service."

Catholic Schools Week, which began in 1974, is a celebration of everything a Catholic education represents. This year's theme fits perfectly, according to Patrice Majeran, principal at Cardinal Maida Academy in Vandergrift.

"(It) gives us a chance to say: We're not just here because of our faith, but our faith plays a large part in everything we do," she said.

Traditionally Catholic Schools Week is filled with fun activities for students, and this year will be no different.

"The students get pretty excited," said Bill Heasley, principal at Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament School in Harrison. "The field trips are really special for them." The older kids are going to Seven Springs, the middle age-group of kids are going to Funfest in Harmar, and the youngest kids are going bowling.

"We try to mix in the fun with the faith."

Cathy Collett, principal at Mary Queen of Apostles in New Kensington, said as well as having fun activities -- students in grades 6-8 will be treated to a live animal presentation by the Pittsburgh Zoo -- MQA has focused its Catholic Schools Week planning around this year's theme.

"This year we added a few more things that have to do with service," she said. "We have three new projects that will run through Lent."

The projects are "Souper Bowl" -- a food collection for parish food banks, "Change a Life" -- where students will donate their extra change that supports preschool nutrition in Haiti, and "Give a Little Hope" -- students will donate toiletries to the Hope Center for abuse victims.

Most schools, including St. John Baptist School in Plum and St. Irenaeus School in Oakmont, will kick off the observance with an opening Mass and open house.

"The Mass and open house give people a chance to come in and see what we're doing here," Majeran said. "We can show them all the benefits of a Catholic education."

Heasley said the opening Mass gives his students a chance to showcase the school.

"The kids get to do all the readings and bring down the gifts at the Mass," he said. "It's the 11 o'clock Mass, so the whole parish is there."

Majeran said that above all, Catholic Schools Week is about the students.

"The kids get really excited," she said. "We give them the heads up of what's going on before hand. It gets them geared up."

A weeklong celebratioN

Starting Sunday, Catholic schools across the United States will participate in a week-long celebration of service and academic success with activities for students and their families.

Here's a look at some of the events happening in Catholic schools across the Alle-Kiski Valley, this week:

Mary Queen of Apostles, New Kensington:

• Sunday: Open House, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Monday: Catholic Schools Week and Beyond, beginning of three service projects

• Tuesday: Forensic classroom assembly

• Wednesday: Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera assembly for grades 4-8

• Thursday: 100th Day of School celebration

• Friday: Pittsburgh Zoo assembly (with live animals) grades 6-8, early dismissal (11:30 a.m.)

Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Harrison:

• Sunday: Mass at 11 a.m.

• Monday: Field trips for all grades

• Tuesday: Assorted classroom activities

• Wednesday: Wacky Hair Day

• Thursday: Character education assembly and early dismissal (11:45 a.m.)

• Friday: Closing Mass, 9:30 a.m.; early dismissal (11:45 a.m.)

St. Irenaeus School, Oakmont:

• Sunday: Mass at 11 a.m. and start of book fair

• Monday: Educational games

• Wednesday: Mystery Day

• Saturday: Flea market

St. John the Baptist, Plum:

• Sunday: Mass at 11 a.m. followed by an open house and start of book fair

• Monday: Crafts for community workers and "Moving Molecules" mobile lab

• Tuesday: All-school Mass and a presentation by a storytelling cartoonist

• Wednesday: Parent/teacher conferences and electronics day; book fair ends

• Thursday: Parent/teacher conferences and electronics day

• Friday: Eucharistic adoration

Cardinal Maida Academy, Vandergrift:

• Monday: Students will make blankets for hospital neonatal intensive care unit patients

• Tuesday: 100th Day of School celebration

• Wednesday: Children's Liturgy, pajama party, and older students read to younger students

• Thursday: Religion Quiz Bowl

• Friday: Scavenger hunt

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