SIKESTON - While many families struggle with rules regarding prayer in schools, area Catholic school students and their families are celebrating their Catholic education.
"I can talk and learn about God," writes Angela Adams, an eighth grader at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School. "I think that I get a better education here, also."
"There are smaller classes and great teachers that want you to succeed," agrees Victoria Moy, also an eighth grader. "All of the students in a class bond and become really good friends."
Catholic Schools Week begins today and runs through Friday. "Teachers have to be flexible with lesson plans that week," said Cassandra Limbaugh, a teachers' aide at St. Francis. "It's celebrated at all the schools. It's a fun thing - a lot goes on. There's a lot of preparing for it."
Limbaugh said they actually started working on Catholic Schools Week as soon as they got back from winter break. "But it's well worth it," she said.
Catholic students began their celebration week today by participating in the morning Mass with readings, singing in the choir and other activities.
Deborah McCann, principle of St. Denis Catholic School in Benton, said students will have karaoke during lunches as well as a book fair all week long.
St. Francis will kick off the school week Monday by recognizing people in the community that support their school for "Community Helper Day."
"The families are asked to bring cookies," said Limbaugh. St. Francis students made banners which will be presented by the student council to area businesses "to recognize them as being important to our school."
McCann said St. Denis students will write to military personnel and diocesan seminarians on Monday. "And that evening we're having a family trivia night," she added.
At St. Francis, "Tuesday is the students' day," Limbaugh said. As they are usually required to comply with a dress code, students will be able to dress down for "Students Appreciation Day" and will be given 30 minutes of free reading time.
Students at St. Francis will also be able to bring a special guest with them to the gym for snacks and bingo games. Pre-K through third grades will play bingo from 10-11 a.m. and fourth through eighth grades will play from 1-2 p.m.
"We'll have a special Mass at 5:30 p.m. that evening," Limbaugh said. The Mass will be followed by a potluck dinner "for parishioners and our student families," she said.
McCann said St. Denis students will write thank you notes to parents and other parish and community members on Tuesday.
Immaculate Conception School in New Madrid will have on open house Wednesday, according to Sara Ramsey, principle, while St. Francis students will observe "Nations Day," Limbaugh reported.
"The students will be wearing red, white and blue that day," Limbaugh said. Students will meet in the parish center at 1 p.m. "They're going to be singing patriotic songs," she said. "Veterans and their families and military personnel are invited to attend."
Also, a special breakfast for school volunteers will be held Wednesday instead of Thursday during "Volunteer Day," according to Limbaugh. "We have to rely on lots of volunteer people."
"On Thursday the Imaginary Theater from St. Louis are having two performances at the Dixie Theater and we've invited some other area Catholic schools to attend," said Ramsey.
Area Catholic schools will also gather at Notre Dame in Cape Girardeau Thursday for an area-wide mass.
"On Friday it will be 'Spirit Day,'" McCann said, speaking for St. Denis. "The children will go bowling in the afternoon."
At St. Francis, "Friday is 'Teacher Appreciation Day,'" Limbaugh said. "We've been told that a lunch will be provided for us." St. Francis will also celebrate by letting everybody out at 1 p.m.