By Steve DiMezza
Education is the vehicle by which the world is driven to change. A Catholic high school education is essential because it is a system that is based on values, ethics and faith. Catholic secondary education is based on the Gospel teachings of peace and acceptance.
Parents who invest in Catholic education invest in their child’s future. Catholic schools from Pre-K to grade 12 focus on educating the whole student: mind, body and spirit. Students who attend Catholic high schools are treated as individuals. Catholic high school teachers recognize that working in a Catholic school is not only a job, but also a vocation. Teachers encourage their students to develop their talents and skills as they grow emotionally and spiritually, celebrating their milestones and Sacraments as a community. In the small group setting of Catholic school classrooms, students are treated with kindness and compassion.
Catholic education is innovative, and educators are constantly seeking new programs to bring to the classrooms. Catholic schools throughout the Diocese are implementing STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Art and Math) programs, preparing students for careers that are emerging on a daily basis or have yet to be created.
Catholic schools are also at the forefront of technology. Catholic high schools invest funds into researching and purchasing new technological programs and teach students to ethically manage their way through the world of information. These schools have digital research resources that mirror the resources available at colleges and universities. Technology is integrated in all curricular areas, ensuring that students have the best resources for learning and application of their knowledge.
Our schools also provide students with personal guidance regarding college and career readiness. The administrators and guidance staff begin the college preparation process from the first day of freshman year through senior year, providing students with information and helping them create a path to a successful post-secondary experience. Counselors encourage students to explore colleges and universities that fit their career and financial needs. Catholics high school students have been recognized yearly for their outstanding receipt of grants and scholarships each year to the top colleges and universities.
Sports and service are also essential components for creating a well-rounded young person who is prepared to accept the challenges of the real world. Students are encouraged to participate in various sports programs, which have levels for all abilities, from freshman, to junior varsity to varsity. Students who are involved in sports learn about teamwork and become part of a community. The Catholic Athletes for Christ program teaches that God is present on and off the field, and students take great pride in being able to pray together before each game.
Catholic high schools also require students to complete community service, with a minimum of 30 hours to be completed in senior year. The community service programs organized by the high schools introduce students to the surrounding communities and help teenagers fulfill God’s call to help those in need. Teachers, administrators, coaches and staff are invited to join students in service. All students at all grade levels are asked to consider serving others both in and out of the school.
The focus of Catholic high school is more than just an excellent academic education – it is about the formation of the whole human person and guiding students in their call to be disciples of Christ and messengers of God’s Word, which the world so desperately needs.
Steve DiMezza is the principal of St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel.