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May 24, 2009

Faith & Education Roundup

With this Faith and Education special issue we close out the school year in the Archdiocese of Chicago. It was a year of struggles and triumphs, laughter and tears.

Here’s a round-up of news from the spring semester, supplied by the Office for Catholic Schools:

Students support Nigerian Catholic schools

Catholic school students raised more than $9,000 so far as part of the “Dollars for Dreams” campaign that supports Catholic schools in the Diocese of Nsukka, Nigeria. Esther Hicks, director of Catholic identity and mission for the Office of Catholic Schools, is currently in Nigeria helping that diocese plan for continuing Catholic education.

New Catholic middle school planned

Three schools in Lake County are planning to form a Catholic middle school for their sixth to eighth grade levels in fall 2010. The three schools in this unique effort are Santa Maria del Popolo (Mundelein), St. Mary of the Annunciation (Mundelein), and Transfiguration (Wauconda). Members of the planning committee have met with school community members and are in the process of bringing together task forces, including representatives from the three schools and the archdiocese.

Information system selected for schools

The Office of Catholic Schools selected Power- School Premier software to provide a student information system for Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools. This system helps student learning by automating tasks such as attendance, scheduling, classroom grading and reporting. Power School also has the capacity to strengthen home-school communication by placing student grades online for parents. Over the next four years, all schools are invited to adopt PowerSchool. For the upcoming school year, the Office of Catholic Schools anticipates 25 schools will make use of the software.

Families take action for state transportation reimbursement program

With support from the Catholic Conference of Illinois, Catholic school families are calling and writing legislators to ask them to restore funding that provides reimbursements for transportation costs to school where bus service is unavailable. At current funding levels, the program provides roughly a $100 transportation reimbursement per student per year — far short of the actual costs of driving children to school. The Illinois State Board of Education and the Governor’s office have proposed cutting the $12 million funding for the Parent/Guardian Transportation Reimbursement Program from the education budget this year.

Retiring school leaders honored

The Eighth Annual Crystal Awards ceremony celebrating retiring Catholic school leaders took place on May 5, 2009. Honorees for this year were: Ronald Berger, St. Joseph (Wilmette); Mary Lou Cacioppo, Prince of Peace School (Lake Villa); Deborah E. Dedeo, St. Mary of the Annunciation (Mundelein); Mary Francine Lagocki, CSSF, St. Richard School (Chicago); Alan C. Musial, Our Lady of the Wayside School (Arlington Heights); Linda Noonan, St. Priscilla (Chicago); Agnes Pamper, Office of Catholic Schools (Chicago); Thomas Sedor, Infant Jesus of Prague School (Flossmoor). The ceremony also recognized all those leaving or transitioning from their jobs within the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Graduates receive $250 million in college scholarships

Graduates from the 40 Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago have been offered more than $250 million in college scholarships this year, according to the Office of Catholic Schools. With a graduation rate of 98 percent, and with 95 percent of those graduates collegebound, they are moving on from their schools prepared for the future.

Principals and teachers receive catechetical training

Through the archdiocesan program for catechetical leadership, which was created by the Office of Catholic Schools and the Office for Catechesis and Youth Ministry, one school principal was certified as a coordinator of religious education this school year. This brings the total of certified principals to 68 since 2005. Also, 215 teachers were certified as catechists this year, bringing the total to 682 teachers since 2005. These programs are in the Catholic identity area of the Genesis strategic management process.