Students at Holy Name Catholic School enjoyed a week of festivities and fun in honor of National Catholic Schools Week, which began last Sunday and ended on Friday afternoon.
National Catholic Schools Week is an initiative that was designed by the National Catholic Educational Association.
This year, the celebrations began on Jan. 26 and lasted through Saturday nationally.
“Schools typically observe the annual celebration week with masses, open houses and other activites for students, families, parishioners and community members,” stated the NCEA website. “Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and our nation.”
Hazel Brewi, Holy Name school administrator, told the Daily News that she thinks the celebration is a good way to recognizance the differences between public and Catholic education.
“I think it's just a very positive way of promoting Catholic education locally, and in particular, allowing our students to celebrate the fact that they get to go to some very excellent schools that build the whole child,” Brewi said. “Not just academics, but values and faith integrated with academics.”
To kick off the festivities, students and their families were invited to attend a morning Mass at Holy Name Catholic Church.
On Monday, the students were encouraged to celebrate their community by hosting a “peanut butter and jelly drive” for the parish food pantry, according to information from Holy Name.
Brewi said that the students also received a visit from the Ketchikan Fire Department.
“The kids got to tour the fire truck and talk about safety, which is always a blast for them,” Brewi said. “They love to do that.”
On Tuesday, it was time for the students to celebrate themselves. Some students went roller skating and played in bouncy houses, while other kids went tumbling at Ketchikan Gymnastics.
“Anything that gets them out of school and gets them moving … they love those kinds of activities where they get off-campus and get to get out in the community,” Brewi said.
On Wednesday, students were visited by Smokey the Bear. They learned about how to stay safe around forest fires or camp fires.
Thursday was a day for celebrating Holy Name families and volunteers.
“It was really awesome to see all of the families together,” Brewi said of that day's special lunch, which consisted of hot dogs and cupcakes.
On Friday, students enjoyed a luncheon and participated in a special Mass. Students' families also were invited to attend.
The Rev. Pat Travers of Holy Name said he thought the week “went very well.”
Travers was particularly happy with how the students did during Friday's Mass.
“That went very well and it helped emphasize the relationship between the church community and the school — that it is one parish, one entity,” Travers said.
Travers said he was “pleasantly surprised by how much the kids who were involved in the ministries enjoyed (it).”
Many of the students were looking forward to participating in the Mass as altar servers.
“They really seemed to enjoy and be anxious to do that,” Travers said.
Travers believes that the annual celebration is a way to promote Catholic schools in the community, as well as recognize Holy Name staff and volunteers.
“I think that it's an opportunity to explain the role that Catholic schools play in not just the life of the Catholic church, but in the life of the community as a whole,” Travers said.
National Catholic Schools Week is not the only celebration of Catholic education. Last year, the NCEA introduced “Discover Catholic Schools Week,” which will this year be observed during the week of Nov. 15 through Nov. 21.
According to the NCEA, this week is “designated to help schools connect with prospective families, donors, educators and other community members.”