Schools roundup: scores rise, 100 percent college acceptance and more

By Catholic New World
Sunday, September 9, 2012

ACT scores rise in every category, continue to outpace state, nation

The Office of Catholic Schools announced in August that the average for the 5,953 Catholic high school students who took the ACT test in 2012 showed gains in every testing area, and in the composite score.

The average composite score for Catholic high school students in the archdiocese is 22.9, which was a 0.2 point improvement over our students’ performance last year, and 2.0 points above the Illinois average. All scores continue to be above the average for the state and the nation.

On the English section, students scored 3.1 points ahead of the state average, with 84 percent demonstrating college-readiness in that subject. In the science section, Catholic high school students scored an average of 22.3, a 0.1 point improvement over last year, and 1.5 points above the state average.

Math scores rose to 22.2, up 0.3 points over last year and 1.2 points ahead of the state. Reading scores also increased to 23.1, up 0.3 and 2.4 points above the state.

More than 98 percent of Catholic high school seniors graduate, and the 5,953 students who took the ACT represents 98 percent of all seniors across the 40 high schools in the archdiocese.

The ACT test assesses high school students’ general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. The multiple-choice tests cover four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading and science. The writing test, which is optional, measures skill in planning and writing a short essay.

Across the country, 1.4 million high school students annually take the ACT test, usually in the fall of their senior year. Students answer 315 questions in the four subject categories. The top score possible in the multiple-choice section of the test is 36.

For more information about local test results, visit schools.

New additions at School of Saint Mary

The School of Saint Mary in Lake Forest has made some additions this year. At the primary grade center, 900 W. Everett Road, there is a playground, Common Core math curriculum and resources and school signage.

At the upper grade center, 185 E. Illinois Road, the new additions include air-conditioning, a sprinkler system in the north building, Hitachi Starboard interactive whiteboards and projectors, Common Core math curriculum and resources and signage.

New books feature students’ work at The Well

For this school year, new resources are available, made by students, through the “Stories of Oneness Project” at the Well. The project is a collaboration between The Well, the Sisters of St. Joseph in LaGrange and the Office of Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

This project gathers schoolaged children and teachers from across social, racial, religious and economic boundaries to The Well. During a field trip they participate in activities that foster communion with God, one another and all of creation.

Together with the inspiration of St. Joseph Sister Kathy Sherman’s music, they create art to be used for original learning resources for children, families and educators.

Some of those creations are now available in books that teachers and parents can use with their children. The books are:

“God Is Everywhere,” a story that combines children’s art with music written and recorded by Sister Kathy Sherman. The story, music and related activities provided at the end of the book help readers to recognize God’s loving presence through the whole universe. “God is Everywhere” and three additional lively and original songs from Sherman are included on a CD attached to the book. The book is 23 pages, made of heavyduty coated stock and spiralbound.

“Look! Listen! Feel!” is an illustrated story that expands language about God beyond “Father” to include images of God reflected in and through creation. The book combines original text, by Bridget Sperduto, children’s art and Sherman’s music to facilitate children’s experience of the natural world as a place of the “immanent” and “in-and-through” God who is everywhere and in everything. Using activities offered at the back of the book, we come to recognize God’s loving presence with and within us. “Look, Listen, Feel” and three songs from Sherman are part of the CD that comes with the 24-page book with heavy-duty, coated stock and spiral-bound.

The books are available at /StoreFront or at

St. Laurence High School helping students succeed

St. Laurence High School in Burbank has developed three academic programs that will give students room to grow and succeed, along with a new STEM approach: spirituality, leadership, science, technology, English and math.

Combined with the leadership academy, these additions to the academic department will equip students to be effective leaders in today’s world.

There are three academic programs at St. Laurence: the O’- Toole Academy, Viking Program and Viking Plus Program. The O’Toole Academy is for students who achieved high marks on the placement exam, and they take honors and AP courses as part of the curriculum.

Students in the Viking Program take a challenging curriculum that prepares them for college, and they also have the opportunity to move into the O’Toole Program. The Viking Plus Program is designed for students who need special accommodations for their academic success. Students in this program are part of smaller classes and are challenged academically to prepare them for college.

The STEM learning approach promotes an integrative understanding of subject areas, while also encouraging students to gain critical thinking skills.

GODapalooza comes to St. Francis de Sales High School

Sponsored by St. Francis de Sales High School, 10155 S. Ewing, GODapalooza will be an annual festival of music, faith and fun that celebrates the value and impact of Catholic education in Chicago. On Oct. 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this free event will welcome between 500 and 1,000 grammar school students and will feature the following artists: Val- Limar Jansen, an internationally acclaimed recording artist and presenter who emceed the 2011 National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis; Masheti- Moses, Christian rap artist, presenter and motivational speaker; and Noelle Garcia, Catholic recording artist, youth ministry leader and presenter. For more information, contact (773) 731- 7272 ext. 223 or email info@godapalooza. com.

National honors for St. Rita football player

Nicholas Goldsmith from St. Rita of Cascia High School is one of 10 athletes from around the country to be a finalist for the U.S. Army-Pro Football Hall of Fame Award for Excellence. The program, announced by Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe at the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, highlights the achievements of student-athletes across the country.

The program, which was open to all United States sophomore and junior level high school athletes, focused on not only athletic achievement, but excellence in academics and community engagement.

Each of the 10 finalists will travel to the 2013 U.S. Army All- American Bowl and participate in various activities. The winner of the award will be announced during the bowl’s awards dinner on Jan. 4, 2013.

Holy Trinity celebrates 100 percent acceptance rate

In addition to celebrating 100 percent college acceptance for the seventh consecutive graduating class, Holy Trinity High School, 1443 W. Division, celebrated that their senior class received more than $2.5 million in scholarships. This is no small feat given that many of these students will be the first in their families to attend college.

Elementary students raise funds for Catholic Extension

The Francis Xavier Warde School in the Loop has raised thousands of dollars for Chicago-based Catholic Extension.

In May, first-graders presented Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension, with a check for $3,109.47 to support Catholic Extension’s mission of building faith, inspiring hope and igniting change in poor mission dioceses across the United States.

This is the fifth year the students at Frances Xavier Warde have participated in this project; they’ve raised over $10,000 in the past five years.

The students raised the money for a project throughout the Lenten season, where they each were given $1, and asked to return 40 days later with stories about how they made that dollar grow. Some held bake sales, others sold their own paintings and drawings. All the students approached the project with creativity and faith to “grow” the value of their dollar for a charitable cause.