By Phil Corso
Bayside’s Sacred Heart grade school will join with schools across Queens and the nation next week to kick off an annual celebration of Catholic education, the school said.
Starting Jan. 27, schools will recognize National Catholic Schools Week to show off the value of Catholic education and what it means for the thousands of young people who fill classrooms throughout the country. Schools will host masses, open houses and activities for students, families, parishioners and the community at large.
In Bayside, Sacred Heart Principal Dennis Farrell said the annual celebration provided the school with the unique opportunity to show off the students ranging from pre-kindergarten to eighth-grade and staff of the school, at 216-01 38th Ave.
“For Catholic schools, this is an opportunity to look at the things we do together,” Farrell said. “At this school, we are going to talk about our academic achievements. Eighth-graders have done extremely well and a lot of children earned scholarships to Catholic high schools. I am very impressed by that.”
Throughout the week, students will enjoy special treats such as one day without their required school uniforms and free “Denny Dollars” of printed money with Farrell’s face on the front to purchase snacks.
Farrell also said the school would conduct social outreach programs to remind the Bayside community of the Sacred Heart mission beyond the classroom: to help others. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Sacred Heart provided food and support to several families who lost their homes in the storm, the principal said.
The annual celebration begins Jan. 27 through Feb. 2 with each day dedicated to a different group from parents and family to students and the community. This year, the annual theme was set as “Catholic Schools Raise the Standards,” which schools across the country will follow in their celebrations.
And those celebrations will be all over the borough, as well.
In Queens Village, Our Lady of Lourdes will host a party of its own with an international festival and noon kick-off mass Jan. 27 with singing and more.
At St. Andrew Avellino School in Flushing, students will enjoy a week of festivities, including a spelling bee and dance party.
Most schools also end the celebrations with student pajama parties as well as an early dismissal, according to the Diocese of Brooklyn.
According to the National Catholic Education Association, the theme follows on the group’s launching of a new initiative known as the “National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools,” to ensure consistent high standards at Catholic schools across the country. Catholic educators are also participating in a nationwide education initiative for all schools called the “Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative,” the group said.
By the week’s end, Farrell said parents will be invited into Sacred Heart to see what their students have been up to.
“Each of our classes will be developing a way of looking at the theme, and children will be decorating their classrooms to show their interpretations,” Farrell said. “It is an opportunity for people to come in and look at our school and see our children. It’s a special week for all of us.”
The National Catholic Schools Week celebration first became an annual event in 1974 through the National Catholic Education Association, the world’s largest private professional education association.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.