Catholic Schools Week 2016 will be observed in the Diocese of St. Augustine and around the country, January 31-February 6. This year’s theme, “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service,” focuses on the important faith-building, academic and societal contributions provided by a Catholic education.
The annual celebration is observed in all 33 schools of the diocese. Typically schools host open houses, students perform community service projects, and many other school activities occur during this week to celebrate the communities they represent. The week also highlights the educational and community successes of Catholic schools around the country. One example is that an estimated 98 percent of students graduate from high school and 86 percent of Catholic school graduates attend college. This percentage has been consistent over the past 20 years.
Catholic schools provide parents with an educational choice for their child. Our schools collaborate with parents and guardians in raising and forming their children at a time when families struggle with the changing and challenging cultural and moral contexts in which they find themselves.
“By equipping our young people with a sound education, rooted in the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, together with our rich faith traditions, we ensure that they have the foundation to live morally and uprightly in our complex modern world,” said Deacon Scott Conway, superintendent of Catholic Schools.
“This unique Catholic identity makes our elementary and secondary schools ‘Schools for lifelong learners’ and allows them to fill a critical role in the future life of our church, our country and our world,” he said.
Providing a Catholic education is not always easy financially – but for most families, the long-term benefits far outweigh the cost. Many parents who make a financial commitment for their children’s education are sometimes forced to make lifestyle decisions, but those who do, believe the benefits of a Catholic education are priceless – an investment in their child’s educational future, and a path that better prepares them for life.
Today in Florida there are options for families who want a choice for their children but can’t afford the full tuition. The Florida School Choice Scholarship program (Step Up for Children) has been providing hope and opportunity for thousands of low-income students since 2001.
Since its inception, the Step Up for Students program, funded by corporate donations, has provided parents with choices for the best educational setting for their children. It is based on their needs and not their ability to pay.
The scholarships are used toward private or out-of-district public schools that can better address a child’s individual learning needs. Many of these children are among the lowest performing but improve greatly once they find the right school.
“Catholic schools were among the first nonpublic schools to embrace scholarship programs such as this one to extend opportunities to families which otherwise might be pushed to the margins of society,” said Michael Sheedy, executive director of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Of the nearly 11,000 Catholic school students (Catholic and non-Catholic) in the diocese, about 12 percent receive financial assistance. This year, nearly 3,250 students received scholarships accounting for more than $5.5 million in tuition costs.
To learn more about Catholic schools and to find the right fit for your child, call (904) 262-3200, ext. 115 or click here.