And all of a sudden, Catholic Schools Week comes and goes. It just sort of sneaks up on you. The children are in full swing of Advent, then Christmas… then as soon as you start to get in the groove of this beautiful season of “Ordinary Time” (my personal favorite season of the Catholic Liturgical Calendar – more on that in another post) – Catholic Schools Week pops up! And just about every year I think how it would have been nice to be on a planning committee to really hone in on what really makes a Catholic School and celebrate those qualities. Those committees start early in the fall I would imagine… and perhaps it is not quite my “season” to be on many committees, but the desire to really celebrate the uniqueness and beauty of Catholic schools is always on my heart.
And so, below is a list of ideas for Catholic Schools Week activities. Some are activities I have witnessed in the different schools of which we have been a part, and others are ideas I’ve had over the years. They might also be activities to consider for other parts of the school year. Something to think about too: invite parents, grandparents, parishioners, the community, the local news, the Catholic newspaper, and the like to as many events as the school sees fit. It is not only a great way to “show off” the good things happening at your school, but it also helps foster community. When people feel like they are a part of something, that they belong, they are more invested. They are more willing to get involved, whether through praying for school, volunteering, telling others about the school, or perhaps even making a donation. Having a “family” feel to the school community, combined with strong Catholic identity and academic excellence, makes for a great school. Hope you enjoy these ideas!
Catholic Schools Week Ideas:
- Diocesan wide Mass – The Bishop celebrates Mass for all middle school students at the cathedral. (I shared my own experience of this here: https://content2bedaisies.wordpress.com/2019/02/04/catholic-schools-week-thoughts/ )
- School Mass at Parish – Every student wears their uniform and attends the Mass; students are involved in the Mass; and perhaps one gives a little speech at the end. Father preaches on Catholic education (very important). If it is a regional school rather than a parish school… that will take a little more coordination so that the different parishes can host their own students. The 2nd collection could be for Catholic schools, particularly their scholarship fund to help families afford tuition. There could be a representative from the school who signs students in before Mass… and those students get a dress down day the following week for attending.
- Open House – Host an open house after the Mass on Sunday for prospective families. Also, consider welcoming all parishioners to stop by for refreshments and a tour of the school. This is a great thing to do if you have recently updated something, such as the playground, the technology center, the library, freshly painted rooms, etc…
- Priest Visit – The parish priest comes and visits each classroom. He may decide to talk with the students about a particular subject, come and give each class a blessing, hand out holy cards, etc… At one school our children attended, the pastor went on the school field trip and went snow tubing with the students!
- Sister Visit – Invite a teaching sister come to talk at an assembly, or in the classrooms. Sisters were instrumental in the forming of Catholic schools in our country, and have greatly contributed to their success. Catholic schools would not exist today without their dedication through all these years. Orders that have taught in schools through the years include the Sisters of St. Joseph, the Felician Sisters of St. Joseph, the Felician Franciscans, the Notre Dame Sisters, Ursuline Sisters, Daughters of Charity …. And there are new orders of sisters that are teaching now too: Nashville Dominicans of St. Cecelia, Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Michigan, Carmelite teaching Sisters in CA, Sisters of Life in New York, etc…
- Timeline display – Create a timeline of Catholic education history – it’s fascinating!
- Live Drama – Do a play of your school Saint, if your school is named after one; or one of the leaders in Catholic education who were Saints – we all know of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, but have you heard of St. John Neumann, St. Madeline Sophie Berrat, St. Katherine Drexel, St. John Bosco, St. Angela Merici…..?
- Thank a parent – At morning carpool, hand a baked good/coffee/breakfast sandwich to parents as they drive through carpool, or have a little stand in the parking lot. Many schools host receptions, but as a parent of littles… that can be overwhelming. And for working parents, this is very appreciated too! Drive thru act of kindness goes a long way. Who doesn’t love a free breakfast?
- Saints Alive – One of the older grades could host a living wax museum of the saints in their gym. Each student picks a saint to study, create a posterboard with facts, dress as that saint, and give a short presentation. Invite the other school children to walk through at a certain time, and create a separate time for parents and parishioners to also walk through.
- Academic Bees – Spelling bees, Math races, Catholic Trivia, History Jeopardy, Science Fair are all great ways for the students to enjoy a little friendly competition and celebrate the academic excellence that is Catholic schools.
- Balloon Rosary – Create a rosary with balloons, and assign student representatives to hold each balloon (they are all connected). The entire school community is gathered around the giant rosary and prays together the rosary. When finished, and with some help from the teachers, each decade is released into the air, one at a time, and finally the cross. It is absolutely beautiful to watch the rosary float up to the heavens, and the wonder and joy on the children’s faces is priceless. This is also a good opportunity to teach the students more about our Lady and how important it is to lift our prayers up to God.
- Teacher Appreciation – Host a luncheon for the teachers and staff, who work so hard for the students, day in and day out. PTA / PTO usually coordinates a catered lunch and organizes parent volunteers to stay in each classroom while the teachers enjoy lunch together.
- Bulletin Boards – Bulletin boards can be designed to celebrate Catholic Schools Week. It may have statistics of Catholic School students (Graduation rate, higher test scores, adult practice of the faith, etc…), or maybe a gratitude board of why the students are grateful for going to a Catholic school. These would be great in the school building for Open House, but also would be good to display at the back of the church too.
- Thank you notes – Students write a thank you note to their parents, thanking them for the sacrifice they make to send them to a Catholic school. They may also write notes of gratitude to their teachers, staff, their priest, parishioners who have donated, the janitor, etc…
- Service Projects – Students may have a dress down day and pay $1 which is donated to a good cause; have a baby shower and donate items to the local pregnancy center; make sandwiches for the local shelter and invite the older students to an after school field trip to the shelter to help serve dinner; have a porridge day and raise money for Mary’s Meals, visit a nursing home and sing hymns, etc…
- Pep Rally – Each class prepares a special chant, to show school spirit. They made posters and banners and maybe even dress up in a particular color shirt. At the end of the day, they have a special assembly and show off their class’s school spirit. There may even be a contest on which class shows the most spirit. There are games, relay races, teachers vs. students basketball game everyone watches, etc… It is very fun and always closes with a prayer.
- Holy Hour – What better way to make a school better than by spending some time with Jesus? An hour may seem like a long time to be quiet in church, but children truly enjoy it. You can fill the hour with the opening prayers, music (consider having some play praise and worship music), some quiet, a short spiritual talk by the priest or school leader, more music, short readings from the Bible, etc.. The priest will finish with Benediction and bless everyone. Invite the parents to participate too – they will enjoy that quiet time!
What events does your Catholic school do for Catholic Schools Week? How do they celebrate? Feel free to comment with more ideas! Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a priest, or a school leader – thank you for your commitment to Catholic education! May God bless you and Mary keep you!