Celebrating Catholic Schools – Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service
As our state continues to discuss reforming our current public education system, it is worth looking at a system that is working today to educate and develop students prepared for college and a lifetime quest to achieve excellence in learning, service and life. That system is our Idaho Catholic Schools.
Today, over 2200 students are enrolled in our Treasure Valley Catholic Schools. Five, and soon six, elementary schools – St. Joseph’s, Sacred Heart, St. Mary’s, St. Mark’s, St. Paul’s in Nampa, and, this fall, St. Ignatius in Meridian – serve students from Pre-K to 8th grade. Bishop Kelly High School serves students in 9th – 12th grades. The goal of our schools is still to make Catholic education accessible to anyone who wishes to attend. Our students represent diverse ethnicities and cultures. Twenty-five percent of our students come from faith traditions other than Catholic, and twenty-five percent receive some form of need based financial aid. But all of our graduates are prepared for college, and a lifetime quest to achieve excellence in learning, service and life.
As we celebrate Catholic Schools Week nationwide January 29 – February 4, it is important to understand what these Catholic Schools in our community provide. The theme of “Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service” celebrates the fact that Catholic Schools are significant contributors to our American society with high academic standards, high graduation rates, and high percentage of students “going on” to and completing college, all supported by strong moral values, deep faith, and a commitment to social justice. And this is all accomplished in a safe, caring and compassionate environment.
Our mission in our Catholic Schools is to “educate and develop the whole student in the Catholic tradition – spirit, mind, and body”. In the spirit, we focus on developing a relationship with Jesus Christ ; a knowledge of the teachings of the Catholic Church, as well as the compassion and dedication to live out those teachings; an ability to evaluate moral choices and issues based on a well-formed conscience; an awareness of world religions and an appropriate respect for the beliefs of others; a deep sense of spirituality and a desire for spiritual growth,and, an ability to form strong, respectful and meaningful relationships based on Christian values. Our students are learning to be compassionate and involved citizens by devoting service hours to deserving projects and programs in our community..
In the mind part of our mission, through small class sizes and personalized attention, we focus on developing a capacity for creativity, critical thinking, questioning, and reflective problem solving; an ability to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information from different sources; an exceptional academic foundation in a broad range of subjects; an ability to effectively communicate in both written and oral forms; a firm grasp of technology and its role in maximizing learning; and, an appreciation for the power of positive self-expression through the arts and literature.
Finally, in the body portion of our mission, we help develop a recognition that one’s body is a gift from God; an acceptance of the responsibility to treat one’s own body with modesty and respect; an ability to establish physical, social, and emotional boundaries and respect for the boundaries of others; a lifetime commitment to healthful nutrition and physical activity; a dedication to physical balance, harmony and self-control; and, an acknowledgement of discipline, perseverance, and courage as keys to success.
The results of this preparation and focus are that over 98% of our high school graduates go on to college, with 91% of these graduates going to four year colleges/universities. In addition nearly 80% of our 185 2016 graduates were offered merit-based scholarships that totaled $24.6 million. Our average test scores put us in the top 10% of the country and among the top scores in the state of Idaho. More than 70% of our students are involved in extracurricular activities. And they have won numerous state and national championships in Athletics, Engineering Design, Science Olympiad, Economics, and Speech and Debate. .
Catholic Schools are preparing students to be the future leaders in our communities, businesses and professions. Catholic schools really are the choice you can believe in.
President, Bishop Kelly High School