All 452 students of Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Liftwood earned a 100 on their first TAG-Day test this year.
That perfect grade was a result of every student donating $1 in September to support the Diocese of Wilmington’s “Share in the Spirit” collection that helps provide tuition support to families of limited means with children at all parish elementary schools and five high schools.
TAG Days are Teach About Giving Days, when students get to spend a day out of uniform for contributing to a good cause.
IHM’s Student Council picked the Diocese of Wilmington’s Share in the Spirit effort for the first TAG Day of the school year.
Jonah Tonn, an IHM eighth-grader who is the student council’s president, credits the 100 percent participation to the council taking extra steps to explain the purpose of Tag Day and “what Share in the Spirit does for kids, so the students and their parents knew what the money was going to.”
Tina Morroni, in her first year as IHM’s principal after 23 years in public school education, said she had been speaking on Catholic identity to IHM students and suggested Share in the Sprit as the students’ first donation recipient.
“Initially my challenge was to staff only,” Morroni said. ‘I’d really love to be a school that could say to the bishop that 100 percent of our faculty supports Share in the Spirit.’”
The school’s entire staff, even members who had already contributed at their parishes, participated, Morroni said.
The principal’s challenge was then passed to IHM’s students.
“I’ve been trying to emphasize that they are lucky to be attending school that not only has good academics but also enables them to embrace their Catholic identity and to demonstrate their faith and service to others,” Morroni said.
“I’m sure many of you have friends who go to public school,” Morroni told the students. “They don’t have the ability … to start the class with prayer, go to Mass, or have reconciliation services like you have.”
IHM’s education opportunities, like those at all Catholic schools, come with a tuition price tag, however.
At IHM, tuition runs between $6,300 and $6,600 for in-parish students. That’s why the Share in the Spirit collection exists, to help families who can’t afford Catholic school for their children otherwise.
Morroni said 18 percent of pupils at IHM receive student aid of some sort, either through the parish or “obviously Share in the Spirit.”
The student council members are all aware of the cost to their parents, the good their contributions does for others, and the gifts they’ve received by attending IHM.
“People can’t afford this stuff,” said Shane Olexa. “It’s good to help people afford it.”
Michael Goia said, “I know if I hadn’t come here or gone to Catholic school, I probably wouldn’t know how to pray. I wouldn’t know as much about going to Mass. I wouldn’t know much about my faith or being connected to God.”
Maddon Cole, secretary of student council, said she came to IHM from public school when she was in sixth grade.
“When I came here I really grew in my faith tremendously and I really understood the ways of Jesus. I connected to God a lot through religion being taught as a class,” she said.
Jonathan Leonardo said the TAG Day for Share in the Sprit got donations from the IHM’s entire student body because students “wanted to give others the opportunity” to have the same Catholic school experience.
Given Morroni’s enthusiasm and IHM students’ gratitude for the education experience they’re having, it’s no wonder the whole IHM School community wanted to help families who couldn’t afford Catholic school through the Share in the Spirit collection.