"I went to a Catholic school, and I remember celebrating Catholic Schools Week -- and I loved being a part of that," said Laura Schwendemann, St. Francis Xavier fourth grade teacher and coordinator of the week's events.
The purpose of the week is to honor and appreciate teachers, students, volunteers and members of the community who make it possible for the school to operate, Schwendemann said.
"Catholic Schools: Character. Compassion. Values." is this year's theme of Catholic Schools Week, which began Sunday and runs through Saturday.
To integrate the theme, sixth, seventh and eighth graders at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Sikeston put on several skits for the younger students Monday afternoon in the school gym.
St. Francis Xavier eighth grader William Cox said he always enjoys Catholic Schools Week.
"We do a lot of activities. It's a lot of fun," said Cox on Monday as he was rehearsing for a skit.
Cox was playing the part of martyr Oscar Romero, an archbishop of San Salvador who was assassinated in 1980. Romero was known for helping the poor, said seventh grader Aahad Khan, who read the voice over while Cox acted out his part.
"We wanted the students to learn more about some of the individuals who displayed good character, compassion and values in the Catholic church," Schwendemann said.
Among other people portrayed in skits were Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Danny Thomas.
Keeping on the good character theme was Immaculate Conception School in New Madrid, which had character hat day on Monday.
"That's just basically wearing a hat that shows good qualities of a person, such as a fireman's hat or a nurse's hat," explained principal Pat McCracken.
During Catholic Schools Week, schools typically celebrate the parish family on Sunday; the community on Monday; students on Tuesday; vocations on Thursday; and faculty, staff and volunteers on Friday. Nations Day is celebrated Wednesday. Schools may also set aside time to honor grandparents.
Many of the days are celebrated through fun activities such as going bowling, participating in trivia contests and watching movies.
For example, students at Guardian Angel in Oran began the week with "Spirit Day" and were able to wear red and white, the school colors. On Tuesday they're making care packages to send to Veteran's homes. Grandparents will also be honored today with the annual chili dinner.
"Catholic Schools Week is important because it's one week through the school year that we specifically focus on Catholic education and the benefits of a Catholic education," McCracken said.
The week also provides a time to mingle with students from other schools. For example, St. Francis students in fifth through eighth grades went bowling with students from St. Henry in Charleston on Monday.
And Immaculate Conception in New Madrid is hosting a trivia day Friday and invited students from St. Teresa in Glennonville, St. Eustachius in Portageville and Sacred Heart in Poplar Bluff.
"We focus on the value of our Catholic education as it forms the character of each student in the school. It's a time to reflect on and honor those who have supported us and those who make our Catholic education possible, especially the parents," McCracken said.
Also, on Thursday most area Catholic schools attend Mass at Notre Dame High School in Cape Girardeau.
"It's just wonderful time to take stock in the great gift they have being able to attend Catholic school," McCracken said. "We're in a time where you can't pray anymore and all of these different society issues, and our Catholic schools don't have to worry about being able to pray before a game or at lunch."
The week lets schools celebrate the purpose of a Catholic education, Schwendemann said.
"It creates such a family atmosphere," Schwendemann said. "You have family at home, but being in a Catholic school, gives you a second family, and it's great."