Catholic Schools Week 2012 Ideas and Activities

The 2012 Catholic Schools Week theme is “Faith. Academics. Service.” I’m happy to welcome another excellent collection of ideas and activities from two master teachers and employees of the Alliance for Catholic Education, Jennifer Dees and Meghann (Robinson) Kirzeder. They have come up with some amazing ideas that should be useful for an entire school, not just the religion classroom.

Catholic Schools Week 2012: January 29, 2012 – February 5, 2012

Catholic Schools Week 2012

The Catholic Schools Week 2012 theme, “Catholic Schools–Faith. Academics. Service.” highlights one of the most beautiful and powerful truths about Catholic education: the heart of the mission of Catholic schools is not merely good teaching, but the formation of the whole child.

During this week, we celebrate the reality that in our schools, high test scores aren’t enough, and they aren’t the final goal (heaven is!). The three components of faith, academics, and service are constantly and inseparably linked together. As our children study the world God gave us, we come to know and love our Creator, and we learn to use our skills to express and extend that love through service.

During Catholic Schools Week 2012, how will your school be celebrating the interplay between these three values? Share your ideas and activities in the comment section below.

Below are a number of activities and ideas for programs you might incorporate into your celebration.

Catholic Schools Week 2012: Faith

Sunday Mass
Begin the week with a Sunday liturgy dedicated to celebrating your Catholic school. Encourage all students and their families to attend, and be sure students wear their uniforms. Have students be servers, lectors, gift bearers, etc. If you have a school choir, have them lead the singing. Bring up gifts during the offertory procession that represent the school. (See “Catholic Schools Week Mass Resources” below for a sample procession.)

Invite representative students to visit Sunday Masses and read a letter of thanks (written by them, of course!) to the parishioners who support their education. Invite a student from a family whose older and younger children could read together, or perhaps your student council officers or student ambassadors would be good candidates. Perhaps these students could even invite the parish to visit the school after Mass for coffee, cookies, and a chance to look around at student work on display!

Celebrate the Saints
Have each classroom select a saint for the week. Every day, spend time learning about your saint or doing an activity they would love. Decorate your classroom door and/or windows with symbols of your saint.

For example, if your class chose St. Cecilia, patron saint of music:
• sing and dance to praise and worship songs,
• write your own songs about St. Cecilia’s life,
• visit a nursing home and sing songs,
• talk about how singing is like praying twice,
• or decorate the classroom door with music notes.

The older grades (5-8) could lead an all school Catholic Schools Week prayer service on their classroom saint during the week. For middle school classrooms, consider patron saints of your subject area if you teach something other than religion.

A Living Rosary
Pray a “Living Rosary” with your entire school community. Children of varying ages can represent the beads, with older children or community leaders leading the mysteries and prayers.

The Daily Readings
Read the daily gospel (or one of the daily readings) as part of the morning announcements. Invite a teacher, parent, alumnus, or other member of the school community to offer a short reflection. Or use the daily Scripture in language arts class to study genre, symbolism (parables!), main idea, new vocabulary. . . the possibilities are endless!

Learn A New Prayer
Learn a new prayer as a class. Practice every morning and every afternoon. Consider these suggestions: Angel of God, Act of Contrition, the Memorare, or a prayer by one of our ancestors in the faith such as Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, or Cardinal Newman.

Catholic Schools Week 2012: Academics

Academic Competitions
Have one or more school-wide academic competitions or fairs: a spelling bee or geography bee (find the schedule for the national bees and consider participating!), a math problem-solving challenge, a science fair, etc.

Parent Involvement
Bring in parents or members of the community to share how they use the skills God gave them in a particular subject area in their careers.

Also, call every student’s parents and give them a compliment about their child. So often parents only get calls when things go wrong, change this and spread some joy!

Second-Semester Challenge
Kick off a second-semester challenge, like a “Daily Math Minute” (how many problems can the whole school answer in one minute with varying degrees of difficulty) or a reading challenge (can we read 2,000 books by the end of the year?)

Cross-Curricular Projects
For this special week, plan a special cross-curricular project with other teachers in your building. Or do a creative project with one of your classes that will result in something special to display outside your classroom. Or pair older and younger students to teach each other their favorite topic from the year so far.

Catholic Schools Week 2012: Service

Organize a Fundraiser
Have a school-wide penny drive our canned food drive. The winning class would get to leave school to do a service project, such as, serve a meal at a homeless shelter, clean up a local park, or visit a nursing home.

Service Projects
Have each grade level focus on a service project for the week. This might be a good project during religion classes, but it could certainly be the focus of the entire day. If possible, find a great service opportunity to integrate into one of your other subjects.

Guest Speakers
Invite guest speakers from a variety of service organizations to visit the school to tell students about the work they do and how they can get involved even at their ages.

Read a Service Book
Find picture books that relate to community issues or service opportunities. (One great resource is the collection of lists in the book The Complete Guide to Service Learning.) Read one picture book to the whole student body each day. Invite students to brainstorm ways they could use their skills and talents to help address the issue at hand, and by the end of the week, have each class select a project to complete before the end of the year.

Catholic Schools Week Mass Resources

These prayers might be read either as a part of the Prayer of the Faithful or as a narration during a special offertory procession. If used during the offertory, instrumental music may be played under the readings as the students process forth with the items. Have a teacher or older student arrange the items artistically in front of the altar. Check with your parish priest or liturgical coordinator on which format would be most appropriate. 

This narration offers examples of what students might bring forth along with sample prayers. Adapt them to the activities you have chosen for the 2012 Catholic Schools Week theme.

“Our kindergarteners bring forth a Bible and a crucifix. These symbols of our faith are daily reminders of the mission of our school. Lord, please help us grow to be more like you.”
(For petitions, add “We pray to the Lord. . .”)

“Our first graders bring forth books from the first grade classroom. These books remind us of the world we can explore through the adventures of reading. Lord, as we encounter new worlds and new adventures, bless us with hearts filled compassion and wisdom.
(For petitions, add “We pray to the Lord. . .”)

“Our second graders bring forth cans of food from the food drive they are sponsoring this week. These canned goods remind us of our blessings and God’s call to share these blessings with others. Lord, continue to help us grow in generosity.”
(For petitions, add “We pray to the Lord. . .”)

“Our third graders bring forth flashcards. As we learn the facts and truths that govern the world around us, attune our hearts to be aware also of the eternal truths revealed to us through Christ.”
(For petitions, add “We pray to the Lord. . .”)

“Our fourth graders bring forth baby clothes from the baby supply drive that they are sponsoring this week. These gifts remind us to treasure the gift of life. Lord, help us to celebrate life.”
(For petitions, add “We pray to the Lord. . .”)

“Our fifth graders bring forth a sleeping bag that they will take with them to camp this year. These trips prepare them to become junior high leaders and to celebrate the beauty of God made present to us in nature. Lord, help us to celebrate and protect your beautiful creation.”
(For petitions, add “We pray to the Lord. . .”)

“Our sixth graders bring forth. . .”

“Our seventh graders. . .”

“Our eight graders. . .”

Have a blessed Catholic Schools Week!

For more ideas, check out the Catholic Schools Week articles from 2011 and 2012:

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Free eBook on Lesson Planning

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About Jared Dees

Jared Dees is the creator of The Religion Teacher and has worked in catechetical ministry for over ten years. He is the Digital Publishing Specialist at Ave Maria Press and the author of 31 Days to Becoming a Better Religious Educator.

Comments

  1. Sister Ann Providence, O.P. says:

    Thank you so much for the inspiration and great ideas!

  2. DavidDavidson says:

    What could third graders do to get their interest for Catholic Schools Week ? Creo is their first langusge. Their are 9 girls in the class and 6 boys. How could show their school spirt using posters?

    • One suggestion might be to create posters for the saint that you select for the week (see the other suggestions above).

    • Jennifer Dees says:

      You could have your kids write petitions for mass or a prayer service during the week and read them in their first language. In terms of posters, show them this year’s Catholic Schools Week logo and ask them to redesign it so that it includes somethings that features your school and/or classroom – a silhouette of the school building, an image of your school’s patron saint, etc.

  3. Concep says:

    Thank you very much for sharing this wonderful website…what is the best activity for the catholic school week for the 6th, 7th and 8th grader?

    • Jennifer Dees says:

      In my experience having older students plan and lead a liturgy or prayer service and/or do a service project had the most impact. The more responsibility and freedom you can give them the better! I was always impressed with the effort they put into these things because they knew the results impacted others.

  4. Mary Neuheimer says:

    I do the bulletin for St. Pius X Catholic church in Baltimore and would like to have a prayer for Catholic Schools Week that I could put in the bulletin this week. Is there a prayer I could use? Thanks so much.

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