Catholic Schools Week kicks off

PARKERSBURG – Students and faculty are making preparations for the annual Catholic Schools Week, with school officials having a number events lined up this week beginning today.

Karen Robinson, principal at Parkersburg Catholic High School, said students are speaking at area masses today to promote Catholic education.

Students will kick off the school week today with an all-system Mass. Special events are planned every day this week.

Catholic Schools Week was launched in 1974 and was designed to promote high academic standards and Catholic identity. This year’s theme is raising the standard.

Kevin Simonton, principal of Parkersburg Catholic Elementary School, said the week is designed to highlight the choice for Catholic schools and what they provide.

“The big picture is there is a choice for schools,” he said.

Catholic education is no stranger to the Mid-Ohio Valley, with Catholic schools located in Parkersburg and Marietta and supported by no less than seven area Catholic churches as well as the diocese. Simonton said Catholic education in Parkersburg pre-dates the Civil War.

Parkersburg Catholic’s current facilities have been around since the 1950s. Parkersburg Catholic High School, on Fairview Avenue, was established in 1958. The elementary school at Ninth and Juliana streets was consolidated in 1970.

Simonton said officials want those interested in Catholic schools to see the differences offered, compared to public education.

According to its website, 100 percent of PCHS’ 2012 graduates attended college this fall. The school’s website reports 97 percent of its graduating seniors over the last six years have gone on to college.

The schools feature sports, clubs, choir, band and academic teams. There is a no-cut policy for all activities, including sports, allowing all students the opportunity to be part of a team.

In addition to the religious and academic standards, students are also dedicated to community service. Students perform over 10,000 hours of community service as part of the school curriculum.

Robinson said the week is more than just a celebration of Catholic education.

“It is a celebration of Catholic culture,” she said.

Robinson said the week highlights the importance of being able to practice the faith during the school day. The schools are open to all – not just Catholics.

“We want to focus on the fact people have a choice,” Simonton said.