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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Schools express gratitude to supportive communities

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Trey Bledsoe, a student at St. Henry Catholic School in Charleston, works on an appreciation letter.
SIKESTON -- Catholic Schools Week begins today with several local schools and their students planning to show appreciation to those who support them throughout the year.

"To me, the week is about celebrating who we are, who we've been and who we're going to be and appreciating each group on how to get there," said Laura Halter, principal at St. Henry Catholic School in Charleston.

The celebration also marks the years of tradition of combining faith and education, Halter said.

Throughout the week Halter said students will thank several different groups of people who make it possible to operate the school.

"We just let them know how much we appreciate what they do for our school," Halter said.

For example, on Monday, St. Henry students will show appreciation to its volunteers during a brunch. Parents, grandparents and other loved ones, students and teachers will be honored during daily activities. Students are also conducting a talent show, picnic lunch in the gym and field trips

Meanwhile, students at St. Francis Xavier School in Sikeston will collect food for the local soup kitchen and also bring in food for the animal shelter in celebration of their community day, which is Monday.

"The weeklong celebration is about the community coming together to celebrate the community being one and working together for the most important product, which is our students and our children," said Mike Eftink, principal at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Sikeston.

This year's theme is "Catholic Schools: the Good News in Education." "Our students achieve at a very high level," Eftink said, adding the students scored in the 91st percentile of the national Iowa Test of Basic Skills. "... Parent participation allows the teaching staff to get students at a higher level than what the student is."

Eftink said the community is what makes the Catholic education unique. "We get strong support from the students to the parents to the entire community," Eftink said.

Like St. Henry and St. Francis, other area Catholic schools including St. Eustachius in Portageville, St. Denis in Benton, Immaculate Conception in New Madrid and Guardian Angel in Oran will conduct similar daily activities throughout the week.

From 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Immaculate Conception School is sponsoring a chili supper in the school cafeteria. And on Friday the New Madrid students will raise money for research of juvenile diabetes.

"It gives the kids a sense of helping others," said Agnes Harrington, who was substituting for the principal at Immaculate Conception last week.

On Thursday, older students will attend Mass in the gym at Notre Dame High School in Cape Girardeau.

"All surrounding schools from Jackson to Glennonville attend the Mass, and it's phenomenal. The gym is packed," Halter said.

Halter said she thinks Catholic school teachers are in a position that's unmatched.

"When you get to pray with children and teach them they are good just because they are born -- that's the promise of Jesus -- there's something to be said for that," Halter said.

Halter said she isn't saying children can't feel loved in public schools; she's a product of public schools and had a wonderful experience.

But Catholic schools have a unique ability, Halter said.

"We have the special ability to teach children to love," Halter said. "And we do that through Jesus."