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Monday, January 26, 2015

Catholic Schools Week 2015

Today is one of the greatest weeks at St. Edward School. It's a celebratory week of all Catholic Schools around the nation. And I think it's very deserving to be celebrated.
For those of you who have been following me for a while now, you know that I went to St. Edward School K-3rd and that St. Katharine Drexel is the founder. My brother went there as well as many of my cousins. We attended mass every Friday morning as a school, rain or shine. Some of my most memorable events from my childhood involve events held through the school, and some of my bridesmaids at my wedding and still to this day, some of the closest friends I have, I met while I was at St. Edward. After graduating 3rd grade from St. Edward, I attended Catholic High School in New Iberia from 4th-12th grade. Now that I am back living in New Iberia, I get a relaxed feeling knowing my kids will be brought up in a quaint town with a solid Catholic education.

Well someone shared a blog post written by a dad about his two young daughters who attend a Catholic school, and I just thought sharing the actual article would let it speak for itself:

Author’s Note: For Catholic Schools Week, I’ve been asked to speak to my parish congregation about why, as parents, we chose to send our kids to Catholic school. While my testimony spoke about our Catholic school specifically, I have changed the name to reflect what I think is common to most Catholic schools. Here was my answer. 

It was years ago, but it seems as clear as if it were yesterday. I was talking with my dad when he stopped me short. He looked me square in the eyes and simply, but firmly said,
“I’m proud of what you do, but I love you for who you are. Are you listening? I’m proud of what you do, but I love you for who you are.
I don’t recall the circumstances that prompted him to say that or my sheepish response, but I’ll never forget how special it made me feel.

This wasn’t the first time my dad said this. Nor would it be the last. Growing up, my parents made abundantly clear that to get anywhere in life you need to set clear goals, have a strong work ethic and be honest with God and yourself. And being raised by a school superintendent, English teacher and two sisters aspiring to become teachers, you can only guess the value we placed on education. So between my home and my local public school, there were high expectations to work hard, learn and succeed. But that was not all.

I was taught that while accomplishments matter and success is important, achievement uninformed by faith, purpose, & character will ultimately be hollow. As my dad said, “It’s not just about what you do, it’s about who you are.” It was a philosophy I have never forgotten and still value deeply.

Well, time has passed. I am now married with two young wonderful children. And three years ago, we had to make an important decision. In the west Metro, arguably a hub of the finest public and private school education in the country, where would we send our daughters? Instead of schools immersing students in language or the arts, we opted for a different type of immersion: Catholic Immersion. We chose to send our girls to the Catholic school here. And we couldn’t be more satisfied.

Now, I can recite for you the data about the robust performance of our Catholic school students on standardized tests or the enviable student-teacher ratio. I could impress you with the diverse class offerings in art, music and Spanish or the deeply skilled and compassionate staff. I could even dazzle you with the Smart Board technology, iPad utilization and cutting edge internet based teaching tools. I could… but that vital data is proudly displayed on the website, in the brochures or available on a school tour. Instead, let me share with you the true spirit of my daughters’ Catholic School:

At my daughters’ Catholic school,
- a child once shy to speak much in class is soon beaming while reading prayer intentions at the School Mass
- you may receive a smiling email from a teacher telling you your daughter looked up at him and said, “God bless you” because he picked her favorite game in gym class.
- you find parents who tow a tractor hundreds of miles simply to pull a school float in the local parade.
At my daughters’ Catholic school,
- you may find your child spontaneously apologizing at the end of the day for something she said at the beginning of the day simply because of what she learned from the priest’s homily at the School Mass
- you encounter staff, parents and children enthusiastically showing up to pack food for the hungry, rake leaves for the elderly and plant pinwheels for peace
At my daughters’ Catholic school,
- teachers approach you about the right book or exercise for your child, the principal knows your kids and cheers them on by name, and the priest offers wise support at just the right time.
- you may find a child at home thoughtlessly humming a hymn or telling you an interesting fact about St. Benedict, or at the school Talent Show telling corny jokes or belting out Frozen’s “Let It Go”
- staff, parents and students pray for and rally around a spouse who has been sick, a baby soon to be born, or a sixth grader saying goodbye
You see, our Catholic school is more than just a school, it is a deeply invested community. A community. And in a world grown increasingly cold and harsh, a community of faith and warmth is an immeasurably important springboard in these young kids lives. And in ours. Undoubtedly, this school prepares the mind. But by God, it prepares the soul as well. To paraphrase my dad, “Catholic schools are proud of what our kids do, but love them for who they are.”
If you are considering a school community for your child that is rich in academics and rooted in faith, please consider calling, visiting or touring a Catholic school. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed.

Read more:

The week before Hunter's surgery, the principal at St. Edward, who is still there, contacted us to let us know that the entire school had been praying for Hunter and his upcoming surgery. I posted about it here and will share the link again so that you can see the video if you haven't been following that long. It STILL brings me to tears when I watch it. It was amazing. And the teacher who started it all, is now Hunter's Pre K 3 teacher. The kids with their hands in the air, the priest and his heartfelt blessing, it brought me to tears the moment I got up there.

I could not agree more with the paraphrase, "Catholic schools are proud of what our kids do, but love them for who they are."
Most of you know that I was a nervous wreck to put Hunter in school. I was scared they wouldn't be able to work his ears, I was scared people would point and laugh, I was scared he would feel different and worst of all, I was scared he would be treated differently. These were all MY fears. But this couldn't be further from the truth. After my first couple of weeks emailing the teacher and principal who so openly addressed every concern I had, I had to just let go. And when I tell you, he LOVES school, that's an understatement. When school was closed for a teacher retreat a few Fridays ago, he asked me about 72 times to go.
I have gotten a handful of videos of Hunter dancing at mass on Fridays, in the front of church, right where he had his special blessing. In the exact same spot that we stood almost 3 years ago. That kid And I told the teacher to reel him back in if need be, but she said oh no, he's praising the Lord and that's exactly what we want him to do! I wish I could post a video of him dancing but there are other kids in the background and I don't want to publish the video without their permission, and it would just be too much! Here is one that I took from a mass, zoomed in and cropped all of the other kids out because I absolutely love it. That smile and those hands, that's my happy boy. That's my comfortable boy, feeling right at home. The exact look I think of every time I think of St. Edward School.

I got an email from Hunter's speech therapist at school one day with the following:

 What more could a worried mother ask for? They love him for him. They love his passion for dancing and singing, they love his uniqueness and they embrace him just like our family does. I wouldn't trade his school family for anything!

*permission was granted by these classmates' parents :)
And last but not least, this photo was taken with a few of the students from St. Edward and Catholic High in New Iberia. A banner was made to be hung in the cafeteria and it is in the Acadiana Lifestlyle Magazine. Little bitty Hunter right in the middle :)
Happy Catholic Schools Week!



  1. You know how much I love my sweet Hunter!! I'm SO blessed to be a part of his life!!
    Lots of love,

  2. You have such a darling little family! I'm glad to hear that there is a day to celebrate Catholic schools. They tend to get really over-looked it seems. It looks like Hunter is enjoying his school and from the sounds of it he is going to make a lot of friends while he is there.