Catholic Schools Week is an annual event, celebrated across the country during the last week in January. The week is set aside to celebrate the unique nature of the Catholic schools in each community. In addition to the internal events (teacher and parent recognition events, school spirit days, special assemblies, etc.), it is also a week where the schools open their doors to the families of the parish/parishes they serve and to the general public who might be considering the benefits of a Catholic education.
Catholic Schools Week features open houses at the schools where parents and students can visit the school(s) they think they might be interested in and get a tour of the facility, be introduced to the teachers, meet some of the current families and children and generally learn about the academic, spiritual, social and physical development programs.
One of the first differences you will notice about Catholic school is that you get to select the school that you believe your children will be most successful in. There is no direct “assignment” based on where you live and most school districts provide busing to the school of your choice within a 15-mile radius.
Many parents of current students tell us that their decision was emotional and based on a feeling of warmth and caring they got during their visit. Others are more analytical and make direct comparisons based on the results on standardized test scores and high school admittance history. Regardless of how you make your decision, the schools are “open books” during this week, providing whatever information prospective families desire to support their decision. There is also a series of video interviews on the website (www.licatholicelementaryschools.org) where current parents offer their advice on how to get the most out of your visit.
Long Island’s Catholic Elementary schools set their own tuitions, so they vary slightly, but there is no penalty for choosing a school outside of your parish or town if you are a parishioner in the Diocese. The system of schools is an asset here on Long Island for all of the families of the Diocese and for all of the families of Long Island.
The reasons that are most frequently mentioned are academic excellence, the reinforcement of the values lived at home, Catholic religious identity, a safe, nurturing environment for learning, more individualized attention to each student’s learning needs, an outstanding extracurricular program and the level of partnership established with parents.
The schools are welcoming places to everyone without regard to race, religion or national origin. A religion class is a requirement, students participate in liturgies and faith is an integrated part of daily activities, but many schools have a significant population
of students who attend because of the quality of the education alone.
Will attending Catholic elementary schools help my child get into a prestigious Catholic high school?
Attending a Catholic elementary school isn’t the only way to get into a Catholic high school, but it is still the best way. The Catholic high schools are open to all students and typically have a very significant number of students from a public school background. Students qualify for Catholic high school through a test for eighth graders that is administered in October of each year. Typically the students from Catholic elementary schools are best prepared for the academic rigor, the integrated program of faith and values and the service orientation of the high schools. Virtually all of the students from Catholic elementary school (99 percent) are admitted to a Catholic high school, with the vast majority getting into the school that is their first choice.
There is a resource for families on the Internet that provides a very complete picture of the Catholic elementary school experience. It features an interactive map that is your guide to each of Long island’s distinctive Catholic schools and that lets you view the geographic options for your children at www.licatholicelementaryschools.org.