By Mary Beth Peabody
For The Dialog
When Angel Allen moved her family to Delaware, she counted on one thing to be consistent: the quality of a Catholic school education for her son, Ziyon Bowen.
A seventh grader at Holy Angels School in Newark, Ziyon transferred from a Catholic school in Pennsylvania at the start of the 2020-21 school year. Although the year began in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with an alternating schedule of remote and in-person learning, the transition was smooth — an outcome Allen attributes to the structure and consistency of Catholic schools. A Catholic school graduate herself, she knows what to look for.
“Catholic school teachers have a passion for what they are doing and give each student the attention they need,” said Allen, adding that she is grateful for the way teachers “pull Ziyon in the right direction.”
In addition to the school’s academic strength, Allen values the sense of community at Holy Angels, where she and Ziyon were embraced by other parents at an information session before he was enrolled in the school. She is also grateful for the diversity of the school population, which she sees as an important contributor to her son’s future success.
“I want him to be a well-rounded individual, with a foot in every [possible] door,” she said.
Allen said she believes Holy Angels is giving Ziyon the tools he needs for a successful life, beginning with coping skills he might not acquire in another educational setting. She expressed gratitude for the tuition assistance that has made Catholic school possible for her son.
“At one point I thought I might have to pull Ziyon out,” she said. “The scholarship makes all the difference.” Allen hopes to send her 2-year-old to Holy Angels’ Pre-K program and plans for Ziyon to attend Catholic high school as well.
She said Holy Angels was open about tuition assistance from her first encounter with the school and did a great job communicating and following up about the application process.
At Ss. Peter and Paul School in Easton, Md., Stephanie Humphreys shared a similar experience.
Although she had heard many positive things about the school, Humphreys didn’t think Ss. Peter and Paul would be accessible financially. Encouraged by another parent, she explored further and discovered that, with scholarship assistance, the school was the perfect fit for her son Koran, who was in second grade at the time.
Before coming to Ss. Peter and Paul, Humphreys’ family had experience with public and another faith-based Christian (non-Catholic) school, which she described as unpredictable. Now Koran is in sixth grade, and Humphreys says she continues to see him benefitting from the school’s structure and stability.
“I love the staff,” she said, complimenting teachers and school leadership with excellent communication, responsiveness and turn-around time. “I know he’ll get what he needs there.”
Humphreys said she wants her children “to go into the world and handle themselves appropriately and competently. I want them to have a strong sense of right and wrong.” She is confident those skills and values are being reinforced at Ss. Peter and Paul and gives back to the school with her enthusiastic endorsement.
“I always tell people it’s a great school. I make sure I’m always talking about it,” she said, adding that she encourages extended family members to enroll their children there. She also stresses that people shouldn’t assume they can’t afford the school, pointing out that without the scholarship her family would not be able to attend.
This year’s theme for Catholic schools in the Diocese of Wilmington is “Companions on the Journey.”
“We chose that theme to recall two key beliefs in our Catholic faith,” said Schools superintendent Lou De Angelo. “First, we are all on the journey to the reign of God, our ultimate destination. Despite any detours or challenges along the way, we are called to be saints. Second, we do not make this journey alone. We encounter Christ on the journey and are accompanied by him and those whom we meet along the way.”
Sheila McGirl, director of development for the diocese, sees a profound connection between the schools theme and the annual Share in the Spirit collection.
“What better way to accompany others on the journey than to help them afford a Catholic school education?” she remarked.
“Throughout the Diocese of Wilmington, parents like Angel Allen and Stephanie Humphreys are doing everything they can to afford a Catholic school education for their children,” said McGirl, explaining that, even with scholarship support, every family contributes toward tuition expenses — often making significant sacrifices to keep their children enrolled.
She added, “We have an opportunity to take that journey with them and to help even more families. There is no better investment in our collective future than education, especially when it is tied to our faith.”