The other day Leo Admission Director and Head Football Coach Mike Holmes, President for Institutional Advancement Dan McGrath and your humble correspond ant were on 79th Street welcoming the Young Lions through the Portals of Leo High School.
A gentleman asked us, "How long are you your lunch periods, if I may ask, my daughter and son attend Perspectives ( formerly Calumet HS of CPS) and they are afforded twenty(20) minutes - there are 500 kids."
Mike Holmes asked the man, "Who many in a lunch period?"
The man replied, "There are hundreds of children and my kids must go to their lockers and the cafeteria is a very long way from their classrooms."
Mike Holmes informed the gentleman that Leo High School affords twenty-five minutes per lunch hour divided into three separate lunch periods -one Freshman only and two for the upper classmen.
Catholic Schools schedule, develop curriculum, monitor the halls and lunch rooms and provide mentoring with the students in mind.
Policy is based on what is good for the kids and not on what a Teachers Union or Central Casting dictates.
Sticking to mission and adherence to Catholic values* makes success.
The fruits of these labors can me seen in the resurgence of Chicago's Catholic Schools. Leo High School is vigorously addressing our enrollment shortfall here in economically distressed Auburn Gresham - Leo High School students are African American young men and eight of ten are non-Catholics from Chicago Public Elementary schools.
However, our brother and sister Catholic Schools are hitting their enrollment stride -
"For a long time, Catholic schools didn't necessarily toot their own horn. It was just expected (that Catholic students would attend). There wasn't that sort of critical communication," said Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, schools superintendent for the archdiocese and former president of Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights.
Well said, Boss! Like all Catholic Schools, Leo High School is tuition and donation drive - The Big Shoulders Fund and the Leo Alumni Association behind Rich Furlong's leadership provide thousands of dollars annually to this great school in order to help struggling families meet the costs of tuition. Our parents, like all parents of Catholic School Kids, pay for Public Schools, as well as meet the costs of a Catholic Education. They pay twice - and kids succeed.
Not all Catholic schools are struggling to stay afloat.
THE LEADER BOARD
According to 2009-10 school year numbers, four Southland Catholic high schools were among the top 10 in the Archdiocese of Chicago based on enrollment. The schools, their ranking in the Archdiocese, and last year's enrollment:
2. Marist (Mount Greenwood), 1,797
3. Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights), 1,505
4. Mother McAuley (Mount Greenwood), 1,409
10. Brother Rice (Mount Greenwood), 1,029
Eight Catholic elementary schools were among the top 30 based on enrollment. The schools, their ranking and last year's enrollment:
4. St. John Fisher (Beverly), 691
8. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (Orland Hills), 679
13. St. Christina (Mount Greenwood), 630
14. St. Michael (Orland Park), 618
17. St. Damian (Oak Forest), 572
25. St. Catherine of Alexandria (Oak Lawn), 485
26. Saints Cyril & Methodius (Lemont), 481
29. St. Bede the Venerable (Chicago), 477
BY KATE MCCANN
Unlike the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Diocese of Joliet had a roller coaster year, closing and consolidating several schools.
To the dismay of parents and students in Joliet, the diocese closed St. Joseph School at the end of the 2009-10 school year.
"The bishop has made some difficult decisions. Anytime you close a school it is a very emotional issue," diocese spokesman Doug Delaney said. "His vision is we will have a stronger Catholic education system in the long run."
But the diocese's long-term plans could mean more school choices for Will County parents.
Part of Bishop Peter Sartain's strategic plan is to weigh opening new Catholic schools in Frankfort and Homer Glen, as well as expanding St. Joseph Catholic School in Manhattan. In New Lenox, the bishop is mulling establishing a new parish and school, and possibly expanding the existing Catholic school, St. Jude.
Some Will County schools were also encouraged by early fall enrollment numbers.
Mary Jane Bartley, principal of St. Liborious in Steger and Crete, said enrollment at her school increased by 10 students.
"This is the first time in the six years I have been here that enrollment has not fallen in any way, and we are very pleased with that," Bartley said.
Bartley partially attributes the increase to the closing of St. Joseph School in Dyer, Ind.
Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox is up 30 students from last year, bringing enrollment to about 1,200. School officials said the bump is largely due to financial assistance the school has provided to struggling families.
Catholic schools focus on the values of faith, hope, love, and community. We talk openly about values and spend time each day giving children an opportunity to learn, share, and understand the consequences of good and bad behaviors. We believe in Jesus Christ and we have a feeling of grace that comes from our beliefs.
Can the school your child attends teach the sort of lessons that will help your child become a good and compassionate person? Is there a clear expectation that all children will be treated with respect by teachers and other students?
How a school handles these issues indicates whether the school is capable of reinforcing the values that you and other parents teach at home. Ultimately, we want your child to grow up to be a good and compassionate person, and we will do everything we can to help you raise your child in the right way.