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Catholic Schools Week recognized locally

 By Maria Allard

On Feb. 1, St. Anne Catholic School students listen to the De La Salle jazz band and the Regina and De La Salle show choirs perform.

Posted February 7, 2017

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The De La Salle jazz band puts on a show Feb. 1 at St. Anne Catholic School in Warren.

WARREN — Students who attend a Catholic school in Warren got closer to their faith last week when they celebrated National Catholic Schools Week Jan. 29 through Feb. 4.

According to the National Catholic Educational Association website, ncea.org, National Catholic Schools Week — which started in 1974 — is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the U.S. It starts the last Sunday in January and runs for one week.

This year’s theme was “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” Schools typically observe the annual celebration week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value that Catholic education provides to young people.

There are four Catholic schools in Warren: Immaculate Conception Catholic Schools for preschool through eighth grade, St. Anne for preschool through eighth grade, the all-girls Regina High School, and the all-boys De La Salle High School. Both high schools offer a ninth- through 12th-grade program.

“They’re learning a little bit about the history of the school and making connections to their teachers and their families,” said St. Anne Rev. Alberto Bondy, the church’s lead priest, who also teaches seventh-grade social studies and eighth-grade religion at the school. “It seems to be an enjoyable experience. It helps us focus as a church school community.”

“This is my first year here, and I’m embracing it,” seventh-grade literature and religion teacher Jacqueline Grishaj said. “I’m loving every minute of it.”

Some of the schools intertwined last week, depending on the activity. On Feb. 1, for example, the De La Salle jazz band and Regina and De La Salle choir members performed a show at St. Anne. On the same day, St. Anne students could wear their clothing of choice instead of their standard uniforms.

St. Anne seventh-graders Sophie Orlowski and Brady McKay were among the students who enjoyed the weeklong activities, which included making thank-you cards for their teachers.

“It’s great,” Orlowski said.

“Today we had a school prayer,” McKay said. “We all got together in the hallway. Our principal came on the PA and we held hands.”

“We prayed for the health of the students and teachers and were thankful for our parents to send us here,” Orlowski said.

The students also enjoyed the musical performances by De La Salle and Regina.

“They showed us how to play an instrument,” said Orlowski, who plays the clarinet. “It was a good inspiration.”

Orlowski and McKay enjoy attending St. Anne.

“Everyone here is so nice,” McKay said. “The classes are so small. You get more one-on-one time with the teachers. We have lots of clubs. Every Monday we have church.”

“I came here in first grade from public school,” Orlowski said. “I like learning about religion. I like being open. In our old school, we weren’t allowed to talk about it.”

Another highlight of Catholic Schools Week occurred Jan. 30 when National Catholic Educational Association Manager of Educational Resources Andrea Kopp presented Regina senior Sarah Maisano with the inaugural Youth Virtues, Valor and Vision award at school.

“I was really happy with how everything went with the award,” said Maisano, who received a medal and a certificate.

Ten students received awards nationwide. According to an NCEA press release, the award program recognizes Catholic school students who embody “the standards of personal conduct and public service through their faith, leadership and services to others.”

In 2013, Maisano started up the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Supporting Kids in Pain, or SKIP, to provide care packages to hospitalized children in the U.S. Through SKIP, children in hospitals receive a tote bag that contains a coloring book, crayons, a book and a toy. Each tote bag costs $10-$15.

“Our goal is to ship to one children’s hospital in all 50 states,” Maisano said. “We’re in 12 so far.”

Children’s Hospital in Detroit is one of the medical centers to benefit from SKIP Other beneficiaries include hospitals in Tennessee, Florida, New York, Ohio, Texas and Washington.

The idea to help others came in 2011 when Maisano hosted a holiday party in which friends donated toys for ill children at St. Jude Research Hospital in Memphis. After the second party she had, Maisano “wanted to do it all year round.” So she contacted corporations and applied for nonprofit status to begin SKIP.

Maisano holds a local annual 5K run to further help raise money and also donates her own money to the cause. She said she spends all her free time working on SKIP.

“I love it,” the Regina student said. “I feel very rewarded. I just feel so fulfilled.”

 

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