Michelle Martin

Happy Catholic Schools Week, everyone!

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

This year’s National Catholic Schools Week runs Jan. 28 to Feb. 3. The National Catholic Education Association set the theme of “Catholic Schools: United in Faith and Community.”

This is the 23rd year that I have celebrated Catholic Schools Week as a parent with at least one child in Catholic school.

For those who don’t have kids in Catholic schools, the annual observation, usually in the week that includes the beginning of February, offers schools an opportunity to show off a bit for their wider parish communities and neighborhoods. They often hold open houses, conveniently scheduled just before parents register their children for the next school year.

Then it becomes kind of a mid-winter spirit week for students, something to look forward to in the long slog of classes between Christmas and Easter. Many schools have themed non-uniform days (such as wearing clothing from a Catholic high school or college, or dressing like a teacher), plan service projects in the community and have pep rallies to celebrate their own communities.

For me, that means 23 years of:

  • Finding the right color shirt for the theme of the day. Pro tip: When you have a preschooler who plays rec-league basketball or soccer and is on a new team every season, order their shirts several sizes up. You’ll end up with shirts in every color through the primary grades at least. And nearly every child has enough athletic wear to dress like the gym teacher in a pinch.
  • Eating pancakes after Mass in the gym. They’re always delicious, if a little lukewarm, and the gym is always loud. That’s just the nature of gyms. Also, eighth graders serve the pancakes, and my eighth grader asked me to say nice things about them.
  • Chaperoning service project field trips. The year the bus broke down and we had to transfer the kids to a new bus on the side of the Kennedy Expressway was especially memorable.
  • Clearing out the penny jars from on top of the dresser for fundraising challenges.

Teresa, the last child we have in Catholic school, said the best part is the theme days, mostly because they mean students come out of uniform.

That’s a reminder to me to check the schedule every evening to make sure we have the appropriately themed clothing every day.

That’s okay, though. It helps her be part of her school community, a place where she has been serenaded by teachers with tunes from her favorite musical; has had some of the same teachers who taught our older kids, who are 10 and 12 years older than her; and is seen and appreciated for who she is by teachers and staff and classmates alike.

We’ve been through a lot of Catholic Schools Weeks, and, yes, paid a lot of Catholic school tuition over the years. But our kids have also gotten great academics, in an environment that reinforces the values we teach them at home.

I’d say that’s worth a few last-minute loads of laundry.


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  • family life