Celebrating Catholic education in Dundalk
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 16:03

Professional golfer Joe Rahnis spoke to students at Our Lady of Hope/St. Luke School last Thursday. photos by Roland Dorsey

OLH/St. Luke marks Catholic Schools Week

by Nicole Rodman

    As the last Roman Catholic school in the area, Our Lady of Hope/St. Luke (OLH/SL) School strives to promote the contributions of Catholic education to students in the Dundalk community and beyond.   
    One way OLH/SL — and Catholic schools across the nation — celebrate Catholic education is by participating in National Catholic Schools Week.
    Now in its 40th year, the annual observance of Catholic Schools Week was first developed by the National Catholic Educational Association, in conjunction with the National Marketing Campaign for Catholic Schools and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
    This year’s theme for the week is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”
    While in the past, themes changed every year, this year’s Catholic Schools Week theme will be used for at least three years.   
    At OLH/SL, the week got off to a rocky start.
    Though activities were set to begin last Monday, a water main break at the school forced the cancellation of classes on both Monday and Tuesday.
    The school did open on Wednesday, though festivities began late due to a weather-related two-hour  delay.
    During OLH/SL’s week-long celebration, each day had a different theme.
    Last Wednesday was Student Day. On that day, students were given permission to dress out of uniform.
    In addition, students learned about healthy living from visitors including a farmer and a nutritionist.
    Students also learned a variety of dance moves during a workshop hosted by PLAY 60.
    Sponsored by the National Football League and the National Dairy Council, the PLAY 60 program battles childhood obesity by encouraging children to exercise.
    On Thursday, the school marked Career Day as parents, alumni and friends of the school discussed their careers with students.
    Among the professionals speaking on Thursday were police officers, a professional golfer, a radiologist, a lobbyist, an electrician and a structural ironworker.
    While students were dismissed at 11:45 a.m. on Friday, teachers at the school marked Teacher Day with a luncheon hosted by the OLH/SL Family School Association.   
    OLH parishioners also joined in the celebration of Catholic Schools Week at Masses held on both Saturday and Sunday.
    On Monday, Feb. 3, students made up for the cancellation of classes the previous week by participating in Service Day.
    On that day, first- through seventh-grade students prepared food and cards for the St. Rita Supper Table while eighth-graders put together care packages for troops overseas.
    According to OLH/SL principal Sr. Irene Pryle, the week’s emphasis on service was especially important.
    “Out of our faith comes our commitment to service,” she explained.
    The week’s festivities concluded on Tuesday with Parent Day. During that day, parents were invited to visit classrooms and join in a school-wide Mass.
    For Sr. Irene, Catholic Schools Week is all about celebrating “the contributions of Catholic schools in society and in the community.”
    “It is a week of celebrating who we are and what we are about,” she explained.
    It is a mission that is especially important in light of the fact that OLH/SL is the only Catholic school remaining in the area.
    St. Rita School was closed in 2006, while Sacred Heart of Mary and Our Lady of Fatima schools were closed in 2010.
    While she was reluctant to comment on the closures, or the effect they have had on OLH/SL, Sr. Irene did emphasize the importance of Catholic education.
    “The mission of the Catholic school,” she said, “is really vital to the mission of the Catholic Church.”