Click here to see the insert of Catholic School Week, January 28 – February 3, 2018.
JACKSON – Students and their families meet their teachers and tour the school during Sister Thea Bowman’s back to school afternoon Sunday, August 6. Sister Thea Bowman, situated near Jackson State University, offers music, Spanish and technology as supplements to its excellent curriculum.(Photo by Melissa Smalley)
GREENVILLE – Friends reunite in the halls on the first day of class for St. Joseph school in Greenville. The unit school has new principals for both the elementary and high schools this fall.(Photo by Missi Blackstock)
NATCHEZ – At left, at Cathedral School, Beth Foster’s kindergarten class started their day with the Pledge of Allegiance on Monday, August 7. Cathedral Unit School offers pre-k through 12th grade education and welcomes a new administrator and high school principal this year. (Photo by Cara Serio)
MADISON – first day at St. Anthony School. (Photos by Kristian Beatty)
MADISON – The seventh grade meets for the first time at St. Joseph School on Monday, August 7. Students from all Jackson-area Catholic elementary schools in addition to students who transfer from private and public schools, started their middle and high school journey as Bruins with a day of tours, orientation and lessons in the fight song. (Photo by Tricia Harris)
Forming our Future
By Catherine Cook
This year our celebration of Catholics Schools Week marks 170 years of continuous Catholic education in Mississippi. No other school – public or private – in our state can make that claim. Six of our Catholic schools/centers trace their beginnings to the 1800s and have continued throughout the educational history of our state.
Each year Catholic schools across the United States set aside the week that begins with the last Sunday in January as Catholic Schools Week. It is a time to reflect upon and celebrate what each school provides to its students, families, parishes, cities, states, and the nation.
January 29th – February 4th, the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Jackson join the national celebration with activities that highlight and thank the many persons who contribute in large and small ways to make our schools what the 2017 Catholic Schools Week theme proclaims: Catholic Schools – Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service.
This theme speaks to the heart of what our schools strive to be – communities that at their core are rooted in the love of God that is lived out in service to others – educational communities in which students learn academic lessons and life lessons. This is what sets our Catholic schools apart from other educational institutions across the state. It is why throughout the 170 year history of Catholic schools in Mississippi families have made sacrifices to provide a Catholic education to their children. This Community of Faith, Knowledge, and Service is why teachers and administrators commit themselves to carrying forth the tradition of a quality education marked by faith and service – an institution begun and sustained for much of our Catholic school history by women and men religious.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the comments from students, parents, faculty, administration, and alumni included in the Catholic Schools Week insert. There is little I can add to what they say about their experiences in the Catholic schools in our diocese. I ask that you take the opportunity during Catholic Schools Week to visit the Catholic school in your area and see first-hand what Catholic education in the 21st century is about.
Consider taking a friend and or neighbor to help share with community stakeholders what a Catholic school provides to students, families, and the community. Vibrant Catholic schools enhance the faith life of their parishes and the social-economic-cultural life of their civic communities. You don’t have to be a parent to be invested in your local Catholic school as it has an impact on your parish and your local community. Catholic schools always welcome persons who wish to support their mission with time, talent, and/or treasure.
Finally, this is a time to say “thank you” to the many Catholic school stakeholders – employees, volunteers, patrons, alumni, and friends. “Thank you” to pastors and parishioners – your support is essential to the life of our Catholic schools. “Thank you” to faculty, staff, and administration for your commitment to the education and formation of students – your dedication continues the legacy left by the religious sisters and brothers on whose shoulders we stand.
“Thank you” to volunteers – your service in endless ways and groups, such as, advisory councils, committees, parent associations, booster clubs, fund-raising events, etc. is vital to operation of our schools. And, “thank you” to parents for choosing to place your children in our Catholic schools. We exist to partner with you to provide a community that teaches, leads, and develops your children into persons of faith, knowledge, and service. Congratulations to each Catholic school in our Diocese on your celebration of Catholic Schools Week 2017! We are proud of your efforts and accomplishments.
(Catherine Cook is the Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Jackson.)
By Mary Margaret Halford
VICKSBURG – It was nearly 4 a.m. on a frosty February morning in 1977 when Father Alfred Camp got the call that St. Aloysius High School was burning.
The then-principal immediately got up, dressed, and headed straight for the school. “I was driving down Clay Street, and I saw all those fire trucks and police cars, and thought to myself, ‘well, I guess we’ve got a fire,’” Camp said.
“It was heartbreaking, the smoke and the flames bellowing from the rooftop,” said Jimmy Salmon, who was teaching at the time of the fire. “We weren’t just primarily concerned with finishing that school year, but about the future of St. Aloysius High School.”
As firefighters worked to contain the blaze on the other end of the building, Father Camp approached Salmon and said they needed to get Sister Matthew’s typewriters out, they’d be needing them for school that week.
“I looked at him and said ‘Father, the school is still burning,’ and he got that little smirk he gets when you try to tell him something,” Salmon said. “I wasn’t going to tell him no, so I turned and followed him into the school.”
After the fire was finally extinguished, Father Camp organized groups of people – teachers, parents, and students alike – to rummage through the debris and salvage desks, books, or anything they could and move it to the gym.
“In all that confusion, Father Camp had the presence of mind to turn this gym into a school,” Salmon said. “He said it was important to get the message to the community that a little fire would not shut the doors of St. Aloysius. And more importantly, to let parents and students know they wouldn’t have to search for a new school, we weren’t going anywhere.”
On Thursday, he returned to that very same gym, this time filled with hundreds of current and former students and teachers who were there to celebrate the naming of the St. Al school building after Father Camp.
“This is a great day, that we’re finally recognizing the individual that I believe saved St. Aloysius,” Salmon told the crowd after a Mass in the gym.
In the days and weeks following the fire, Father Camp was told raising money for a new school wasn’t feasible, that the elementary school could still operate but the high school should not.
“I can remember Father Camp laughing, saying St. Aloysius would not close its doors on his watch,” Salmon said. “I truly believe that if it were not for Father Camp, we would not be sitting here today, we would not have a school.”
Though the fire was a defining moment in his tenure at St. Al, other former teachers and students spoke of Camp’s inspiration as an educator.
Father Camp was a disciplinarian, especially for those students wandering the halls during class time, according to Lisa Reid.
Camp always had a specific question for those nomad students, “Where’s your box?” Where were they supposed to be?
When Reid met with Camp to choose classes for her senior year, her heart was set on study hall, a break from an otherwise tough schedule.
“But Father Camp said ‘that’s not available to you.’ I was crushed,” she said.
He then laid out two options – physics or journalism. Reid chose journalism, the field she wound up getting a degree in before working for years in newspapers and as an English and journalism teacher at St. Al.
“Even though I thought study hall was my box, you knew it was not,” Reid said to Father Camp at the dedication. “Through the years, though you kept asking where our boxes were, I think you had a pretty good idea of the answer. I’m sure I speak for thousands of students whose lives you touched when I say we’re deeply grateful for your wisdom and guidance in helping us find our way.”
During morning prayer the day of the dedication, current principal, Buddy Strickland, told the students to look in front, behind, to the left and to the right of each other.
“What you’re seeing is Father Camp’s legacy,” Strickland told them.
“I didn’t expect all this, I appreciate it so much,” Camp told the crowd gathered to honor him for his years in Vicksburg. “My dad’s name was Aloysius Joseph Camp…I guess that meant I was destined to be at St. Aloysius a long time. I think my dad would say ‘good job’.”
(Mary Margaret Halford is a member of Vicksburg St. Paul Parish.)
BROOKHAVEN St. Francis Parish, LifeTeen reconciliation service, Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 6 p.m.
– Christmas caroling at the nursing home followed by Advent party and las posadas, Sunday, Dec. 18.
GRENADA St. Peter Parish, confirmation retreat for young men and women, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017, at the parish.
– Middle school retreat for seventh -eighth graders, Feb 19, 2017, at the parish.
MERIDIAN St. Patrick Parish, Catholic Youth of Meridian, sixth-12th graders, Christmas party, caroling and dinner and gift exchange, Saturday, Dec. 17, at 4 p.m. in the Family Life Center. To reserve a bus seat call or text Adrian, 601-917-4566.
MADISON St. Francis of Assisi Parish, YY and Faithfull Followers, Christmas Service Blitz, Sunday, Dec. 18. It ends with a party and Christmas caroling. Meet in the FLC at 1 p.m. RSVP by Dec. 14.
By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – The new school year is underway in the Diocese of Jackson with two new principals, upgrades in science and technology, added grades and an overall uptick in enrollment. The diocesan theme for the year is FAMILY: faith, academics, mercy, integrity, love, and you.
Another diocesan-wide change is meant to reflect unity among schools. A diocesan Catholic education seal was designed by Contyna McNealy, coordinator of creative services for the diocese. Patches embossed with the new seal are being added to the athletic uniforms at the four high schools to identify the athletes as members of the Catholic schools of the diocese.
Two of the high schools, Greenville St. Joseph and Madison St. Joseph have added a character development program to their athletic programs. The program comes from Notre Dame. According to a letter sent out to parents in Madison, “Play Like a Champion Today is a national coach and parent education program designed specifically to elevate the culture of Catholic school-sponsored sports.
“Crafted by leaders in the fields of sport psychology, coaching education, Catholic theology and moral development, Play Like a Champion works in partnership with our schools to enable the athletic experience to be a missionary tool to develop our youth physically, socially, morally and spiritually.” Paul Artman, principal in Greenville, said when his teams joined the MAIS last year he got compliments on how well-behaved and courteous St. Joseph students were so he knows they have a good base on which to build. Both schools will offer workshops to coaches, parents and students on character and leadership development.
Several schools have technology upgrades, including increasing the internet bandwidth to accommodate one-to-one technology programs in which each student has a device of his or her own, such as a tablet or laptop computer, to use during instructional time. Jackson St. Richard, Madison St. Joseph and St. Anthony, Clarksdale, St. Elizabeth, and Vicksburg Catholic are all participating.
The most notable physical change is in Greenville, where students of both Our Lady of Lourdes elementary and St. Joseph middle and high schools are on a unified campus for the first time since 1964. “The moving of Our Lady of Lourdes onto the St. Joseph School campus has been a vision of our school community for a number of years. Everyone feels very blessed to finally be united once again under one roof,” said Michelle Gardiner, Lourdes principal.
“We can see a lot more activity, a lot more synergy,” said Artman. “We look forward to working together to make St. Joseph Catholic School System the best it can be for our students and future generations of students,” Gardiner added.
Sr. Thea Bowman school launched a major outreach to Hispanic families this year and hopes to continue to build enrollment with help from the Latino Enrollment Institute. Principal Shae Robinson spent part of her summer learning about recruiting and enrolling Hispanic families. She added a Spanish teacher and resources for families as part of her plan.
Students and administrators from Holly Springs Holy Family and Southaven Sacred Heart both attended a gathering at St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, SD this summer. All schools are sponsored by the Priests of the Sacred Heart (SCJ). “This visit provided an opportunity for cultural sharing with students at the five schools sponsored in the US and two schools abroad,” said Clara Isom, principal of Holy Family.
Meridian St. Patrick School added the eighth grade this year. “We felt like we needed to go through the eighth grade because our students were having to make two transitions – first to one year of middle school and then high school. We saw lots of kids leaving in fourth, fifth and sixth grade so they would not have to make that transition in one year,” said Jennifer David, principal. Her sixth grade doubled in size this year.
Two weeks before school was set to start a local private school announced it would not open this fall so David and her staff have also seen an unexpected, but much welcomed boost in enrollment. She said she is concentrating on middle school enrichment and academics this year, offering drama, art, music and increased science, technology, engineering and math opportunities.
Madison St. Anthony School teachers teamed up with staff from Jackson St. Richard School on Aug. 5, for a day of technology professional development. The workshop covered the Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition (SAMR) model for integrating technology into teaching as well as ways to use Promethean boards and other ways to use technology to improve instruction.
Natchez Cathedral School is expanding its science program using a system called Foss Next Generation. The school has also launched the athletic portion of its capital campaign.
Thanks to an anonymous donor, all middle and high school science and STEM labs at Madison St. Joseph were renovated and upgraded this summer as part of a goal to enhance STEM instruction. The Madison school welcomed new principal Doug Jones in April. This will be his first full year.