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Christ the Teacher School is having a Blue-Ribbon Christmas

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Dialog reporter

Glasgow school honored by the U.S. Department of Education for the second time in the last six years

 

GLASGOW — The community at Christ the Teacher School gathered at St. Margaret of Scotland Church on Dec. 8 to celebrate the school’s designation as a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. It marked the second time in six years that Christ the Teacher received the honor.

St. Margaret’s was filled with students, faculty, staff and parents, who attended a Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception before an awards ceremony. The day also included a talk by former Philadelphia Eagles player Kevin Reilly. The Wilmington native, who is a graduate of Catholic schools in the diocese, lost an arm and some ribs after cancer developed around scar tissue in one of his shoulders nearly 40 years ago. He now travels giving inspirational talks about his experiences.

Izabella Garcia (right) leads the congregation in song with Marissa Varghese (far left) and other members of the school choir. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)
Izabella Garcia (right) leads the congregation in song with Marissa Varghese (far left) and other members of the school choir. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Assistant principal Stephen Adams noted that of approximately 170,000 schools in the United States, just 369 are selected for the Blue Ribbon.

“That’s not even one quarter of one percent,” he said.

Only 50 honorees can be nonpublic, and the Diocese of Wilmington had two – St. John the Beloved School was also chosen.

Msgr. John Hopkins of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish, one of the sponsors of Christ the Teacher, blesses the plaque and other materials the school received upon being named a Blue Ribbon institution. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)
Msgr. John Hopkins of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish, one of the sponsors of Christ the Teacher, blesses the plaque and other materials the school received upon being named a Blue Ribbon institution. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

The award, superintendent of schools Louis De Angelo said, acknowledges and validates the hard work of everyone involved with Christ the Teacher, which opened in 2002 and grew rapidly from an initial enrollment of about 300 students to its current number of more than 600. De Angelo thanked the parents, families and priests from the four sponsoring parishes, along with the faculty and staff, “you who inspire every day at Christ the Teacher.”

“Students leave Christ the Teacher Catholic School well-prepared for high school and life experiences,” he said.

Priests from the four parishes concelebrated the Mass. Msgr. John Hopkins, the pastor of St. Margaret, was the main celebrant. He was joined by Fathers Mark Kelleher and David Kelley, the pastors of Holy Family in Newark and St. Joseph in Middletown, respectively, and Msgr. Charlie Brown, the retired former pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Bear. Father Roger DiBuo, the current pastor at Seton, could not attend because was saying Mass at St. Mark’s High School. Msgr. Steven Hurley, the vicar general of the diocese, also concelebrated.

During his homily, Msgr. Hurley challenged the school community to keep up the work it has started. Part of the reason Christ the Teacher was selected for the Blue Ribbon honor was because everyone works together.

“We have to keep it up,” he said.

He also encouraged the students to be open to whatever path God had planned for them.

“Our main prayer to God should be, ‘Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do,’” he said. “God has something for all of us to do.

“God wants you to be the best students you can be. That’s your job right now, isn’t it?”

Adams said the Department of Education rates testing and programs, among other things, but it doesn’t look at a school’s Catholic identity. That, however, is a critical part of the school’s “mission and daily operation.”

Teacher Kathy Lee is one staff member who has been with Christ the Teacher since before it opened and had two children graduate from there. She recalled the atmosphere around the opening of the new school.

“There was so much excitement,” she said. “So much happiness filled the school.”

She recalled starting the day with prayer in the gymnasium, beginning a tradition that still occurs. Christ the Teacher only went to sixth grade when it opened, and as it added preschool, seventh and eighth grades, the number of students rapidly increased. The school has since added a playground, athletic fields and a wetlands area, she noted. Future plans include the construction of a new gymnasium and a preschool. The school’s commitment to service, the environment and being merciful — the Religious Sisters of Mercy have been present since the beginning — have not changed, Lee said.

As part of the Blue Ribbon ceremony, Adams introduced a new tagline that will be part of Christ the Teacher’s marketing and promotional materials: “Educating Saints and Scholars.”