As we begin a new school year, allow me to quiz what you remember about grammar in English Language Arts.
Q1 – What are the eight parts of speech?
A1 – If you remember at least five parts of speech, you’re doing okay. The ones you probably recall are noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, and adverb. (If you read to the conclusion of this essay, you’ll learn the missing three parts of speech.)
Q2 – What is a verb?
A2 – A verb is an action word. Right! Everyone should have this answer.
As you glance back at the title of this essay, you will see that the five words describing what Catholic Schools do are all verbs. Catholic schools are about actions. Let’s look a bit more deeply into the “verbs of Catholic schools.”
BELIEVE – The reason Catholic schools exist is to partner with parents, first teachers in the ways of the faith, to transmit the faith to their children. Parents make this solemn pledge at their child’s baptism. No other form of Catholic education is as effective as the Catholic school in helping parents fulfill this commitment. Every day, during six or more hours of classroom instruction, students grow in their knowledge about and belief in Jesus Christ and Gospel teachings by the connections teachers provide between faith and life.
LEARN – Academic rigor is a hallmark of Catholic school education. Whether one measures by standardized test scores or by high school/college admittances, Catholic schools do a superior job in challenging the mind. Catholic schools in the Diocese of Wilmington take pride in the TerraNova results (elementary school) and SAT scores (high schools) that demonstrate student achievement in the top echelons of learning. The more than $110 million earned in college scholarships by the 935 graduates from Catholic schools this past June attests to academic excellence.
SERVE – In Catholic schools, service is to students as water is to fish. Catholic school students live in an environment of service to others. The multitude of service opportunities in which students are engaged bring them in touch with neighbors in Delaware and Maryland, in other regions of the United States, and across the world. Working with Catholic Relief Services worldwide or Catholic Charities in the diocese, students serve “those on the peripheries” whom Pope Francis would encourage them to meet.
LEAD – Leadership for today and tomorrow is a critical goal of every Catholic school. Students are given information and engaged in formation so that they can be agents of transformation in the world now and in the future. Many leaders in our communities have graduated from Catholic schools and they will attest that their ethical principles for working and living were formed there. Catholic schools provide the moral compass rooted in Gospel teaching that other school systems are unable to offer.
SUCCEED – Success can be an elusive measure, but in Catholic schools we rate success not merely by academic achievement, but also by faith development, service, leadership, and citizenship. By these measures, Catholic schools are in a league of their own. No other school system can speak to all five of these measures of accomplishment. Catholic schools succeed because Catholic schools work.
Catholic schools are truly about actions, actions which impact students’ lives today and challenge them to impact the world tomorrow. Thank you to parents and others who see this value in Catholic school education and are willing to sacrifice for it for their children. Thank you, also, to the many parishioners and businesses who invest in Catholic school education in ways such as the Annual Catholic Appeal, the Share in the Spirit Collection (September 24), Sponsor-a-Student programs, outright financial gifts to schools, alumni giving, and in weekly parish offertory collections. You make a HUGE difference in the lives of students and in the future of our communities.
Please pray with and for our Catholic schools in the Diocese of Wilmington. We remember our benefactors in prayer daily.
Finally, the other three of the eight parts of speech are preposition, interjection, and conjunction. If you didn’t recall all eight parts of speech, come visit one of our Catholic schools to see how this learning and much greater action takes place every day.
Louis P. De Angelo, Ed.D., is superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Wilmington.