FALL RIVER — The 2020-21 school year will be remembered for many reasons: masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer, and outdoor classes. But for the Catholic elementary schools of the Diocese of Fall River, this current school year will also be one of celebrating the pure joy of going to school in-person, socializing with friends and classmates, and experiencing the stability of a robust academic and spiritual curriculum.
For many students attending one of the 15 Catholic elementary schools, this year may be their first exposure to the unique qualities of a Catholic education that cannot be found in any secular educational experience. The Discover Catholic Schools Week campaign provides a platform to communicate this uniqueness and encourages new families to discover what Catholic schools have to offer their children and families. Many new students have been added to the enrollment of Catholic elementary schools and inquiries continue to happen. Most schools have a waitlist and some schools are already receiving registrations for the 2021-22 school year.
Discover Catholic Schools Week highlights the many aspects of Catholic education valued by families for decades: a robust and balanced academic curriculum that integrates faith, culture and life; the value of serving others; as well as preparing students to be productive citizens and future leaders. Each day presents a different theme in order to highlight the many facets of Catholic education. Some of these themes are:
- Discover with your parish
- Discover Catholic school parents
- Discover Catholic school students
- Celebrating Faculty, Staff and Volunteers
“Discover Catholic School Week is a wonderful opportunity for all families to learn more about Catholic education and why it has been a valued education for decades,” indicates Daniel S. Roy, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Fall River. “Our schools are blessed to be able to offer in-person instruction because it is our expression of a commitment to educating the whole child.”
According to Anne Dailey, principal of St. Pius X School in Yarmouth, “The theme of ‘Discover Catholic Schools Week’ is perfect for this moment in time. We have had an increase in inquiries and enrollment from many families whose priority is to get their students back to full in-person learning. For the families who have enrolled, they are amazed with the overall Catholic school experience and express that they never realized the strong sense of community in addition to the robust academic program students receive from a Catholic education.”
Affordability is the main worry for many new families as they engage in learning more about the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Fall River. “The cost of tuition is of great concern to many families,” says Christina Duggan, Director of Operations and Special Programs for the Catholic Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts. “Each of our elementary schools encourages families to apply to the Foundation to Advance Catholic Education (FACE) which helps reduce the cost of tuition by providing scholarships. Almost 950 students received a needs-based award this year, which in many cases can reduce tuition by 30-50%; and for many schools, this can result in a monthly tuition payment of $300 or less. Awards are determined by a family’s financial circumstances at the time of application. FACE scholarships help reduce the tuition cost and make a Catholic school education more attainable and, in the end, families realize that a Catholic education is well worth the investment. Families are encouraged to apply early for the best chance of receiving an award as funds are limited.”
Other concerns that have been expressed by interested families are special education services for their child. The Diocese of Fall River has made great improvements in special education by partnering with the S.E.A.L. Foundation, who oversees the special education professionals in each partnering school. In addition to the very high quality special education services, the smaller class sizes of Catholic schools lend themselves to a more personalized education focusing on each student’s specific needs.
Catholic schools have been educating millions of children since 1890, peaking in enrollment around the 1960’s. While Catholic schools have weathered many challenges over the past few decades, there is no doubt that Catholic schools are still a valued piece of this country’s educational landscape. Whether a family’s interest in Catholic education is due to the full in-person learning model, or for the formation of the whole child, Catholic schools continue to provide children and families a faith-filled community where the values and teachings of Jesus Christ are integrated into every aspect of a child’s development.
For more information about the Catholic Schools Alliance, please go to https://www.catholicschoolsalliance.org/we-have-a-place-for-you/.
About the Catholic Schools Alliance
The Catholic Schools Alliance comprises administrators, teachers, staff, parents and clergy joined in partnership to educate the children of the Diocese of Fall River in Catholic faith and values. Our schools have a demanding educational culture that helps students from across the academic spectrum reach their God-given potential. With an emphasis on service and respect for the dignity of every person, we prepare students to meet the challenges of today’s diverse world and become meaningful contributors to society.