By JESS LOOMAN
and CRAIG HOWELL
Special to the Herald-Star
READY TO CELEBRATE — Eighth-graders at Bishop John King Mussio Junior High School prepare to celebrate Catholic Schools Week, which begins today and runs all week. On hand for the preparation were, from left, Lucca DiMichele, Samm Simmons, Chloe Pieniazek, Emily Stevens and Joseph Sanford. -- Contributed
STEUBENVILLE - Catholic Schools across the nation will promote "raising the standards" as they celebrate Catholic Schools Week.
The annual recognition begins today and runs all week, according to Jude Lucas, Catholic Central High School guidance counselor and teacher.
The theme for the 2013 celebration is "Catholic Schools Raise the Standards."
According to the National Catholic Education Association, Catholic schools are noted for their academic excellence and high moral standards. This year's theme celebrates the constant attention Catholic educators pay to increasing learning and growth in faith of all students, according to officials.
The theme follows in the launch of a new initiative, the "National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools," to ensure consistent high standards at Catholic schools across the country. Catholic educators also are participating in a nationwide education initiative for all schools called the Common Core Catholic identity initiative.
The week is designed to recognize the schools commitment to faith, academics and service.
According to the N.C.E.A., children attending Catholic Schools are taught:
Faith not just the basic of Christianity, but how to have a relationship with God.
Academics, which in Catholic schools are held to high standards, help each child reach his or her potential.
Service, the giving of one's time and effort to help others, is taught both as an expression of faith and good citizenship.
CCHS along with Bishop John King Mussio Junior High and Elementary schools will participate in a number of events to celebrate the week.
According to Lucas, the high school will go by the following schedule: Monday: dress down in favorite team apparel and a presentation from motivational speaker and musician Bob Lesnefsky; Tuesday: dress down day, root beer floats during lunch and an all-school Olympics; Wednesday: a blue and gold dress down day, random acts of kindness recognition and a pep rally; Thursday: special surprise activities throughout the day as well as an academic meet at home; Friday: faculty, staff and administration appreciation day along with a visit from Bishop Jeffery Marc Monforton.
"If a student has helped out a classmate or a teacher, they will be recognized and asked to come to the office to receive a random act of kindness recognition," Lucas explained. "The pep rally on Wednesday will honor the winter sport athletes, and hopefully we will receive a preview of the cheerleader's OVAC competition cheer."
She also mentioned that hosting the academic team meet at home against Buckeye Local is "a way for us to raise the academic standards."
The junior high school's students' week will consist of the following: Monday: pajama day and a math madness day; Tuesday: dress down day, a presentation from Lefansky, and an all-school Olympics; Wednesday: student appreciation day with a bowling trip, a blue and gold dress down day and a pep rally; Thursday: Mass with the high school students and an ornament judging contest; Friday: faculty, staff and administration appreciation day, a staff luncheon, a visit with Bishop Monforton and a Tournament of Truth at Lanman hall.
"Bob Lesnefsky leads the Dirty Vagabond Ministry and is also a Christian rap artist named 'Righteous B,' so he will lead a presentation as well as perform some hits," said Theresa Danaher, principal. "The crazy Olympics will incorporate eight students from each grade and they will participate in a number of events, including hula-hoop contests and dress up relays."
The junior high also will have an ornament judging contest.
"Every year, each student makes a drawing in art class and each year we choose one drawing to be made into an ornament," she said. "The ornaments are then sold the following Christmas and benefit scholarships."
She also mentioned that the students will work on their mail goal during normal math and computer classes on Monday.
The week serves as a way to honor the students, parents, faculty, staff and Catholic community, Danaher noted.
"We are excited for the week and look forward to honoring our school and schools across the nation," she said.
Weirton's three Catholic schools also have a week full of activities for students and teachers.
St. Joseph the Worker Grade School kicked off its celebrations Friday by asking students to bring in donations of canned soup for a "SOUPer kickoff" to Catholic Schools Week.
The collection was part of the school's community service project, with the soup being donated to the Weirton Community Bread Basket.
School officials said there will be an open house on Monday from 8 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. and from noon to 2 p.m. The activity will be open to anyone from the community who is interested in checking out the school.
Tuesday will feature a Student Day, with special treats for all students, and Wednesday will be Teacher Day.
Thursday will feature a special Mass for the students and faculty, while Friday will be a day for everyone to dress in their favorite sports team colors.
St. Paul School begins its observance today with the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Paul Parish, with school students and faculty in charge of the liturgy. A school open house will take place from noon to 2 p.m.
"Everybody is welcome," Development Director Laura Rauch said, explaining the open house especially was geared toward those who might be interested in attending St. Paul School.
Monday will feature a Green and White Spirit Day, with a pep rally in the afternoon, with a Mix and Match or Crazy Sock Free Dress Day for students taking place Tuesday.
On Wacky Wednesday everyone is encouraged to get up and dance whenever they hear music. Wednesday also will be a day to wear their favorite sports team gear.
Thursday will be a $1 free dress day, with proceeds donated to a local charity. Students in second through fifth grades will have the school spelling bee finals, and sixth through eighth graders will take part in a "Jeopardy!" game.
The week will wrap up with a Pajama Day for kindergarten through fourth grade students, and a free dress day for students in fifth to eighth grade. Also, kindergarten to fourth grades will spend the afternoons watching a movie in their classrooms, with fifth to eighth graders visiting the Millsop Community Center.
As a school-wide project, St. Paul students will be collecting items for the Hancock County Animal Shelter.
Madonna High School Principal Steve Grasser said there are several activities planned for the week, including Monday's observance of Senior Night for the girls basketball team.
Among the other activities is a Class Unity Day and students are being asked to bring in donations for the Gabriel Project. The Gabriel Project works to provide assistance to expecting mothers in need, as well as to families with infants and young children under 2 years of age.
A pep rally is scheduled, featuring a praise and worship service and games, and student and faculty days also will be held.
Grasser said some of the classes also have plans for community service projects.
"Those are still being finalized," he said.