National Catholic Schools Week, Jan. 31 to Feb. 6, is a time to celebrate, said to Mary Ann Deschaine, Ed.S., Superintendent of the Catholic Schools of West Virginia.
“We know things will be a bit different due to the pandemic, but it will not contain our pride,” she said. “Now is the perfect time to applaud our school community and the impressive accomplishments we have worked so hard to achieve.”
The 24 Catholic schools — 18 grade schools and six high schools—work together as a team of educators, faith leaders, and families to nurture high achieving and morally responsible young people.
While times have been uncertain their goals remain very clear.
“Whether in the classroom or remote we are steadfast in presenting challenging and engaging academics complimented with life and leadership lessons in empathy, morals, responsibility, service, and faith,” Deschaine said. “Our schools have gone above and beyond with safety protocols based on the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control, and state and local health departments, so we could maintain a five day a week plan. When remote learning was mandated by the state our principals reported full attendance with faculty requiring participation and accountability among students. Principals continued to have high expectations of their faculty; and in turn teachers did not settle for bare minimum work or ease grading to a pass-fail curriculum.”
The Catholic Schools of West Virginia require standardized assessments not once, but three times a year in to measure our students’ growth, define areas that need improvement, and identify strengths in order for our educators to develop the best course of action for student success.
“It is that persistence that guides our students to surpass their own expectations,” she said.
The Class of 2020 in the six Catholic high schools (Central Catholic High School, Wheeling; Charleston Catholic High School, Charleston; Madonna High School, Weirton; Notre Dame High School, Clarksburg; Parkersburg Catholic High School, Parkersburg; and St. Joseph Central Catholic High School, Huntington) were offered more than $28.4 million in academic and athletic scholarships. That’s nearly $14 million more than the previous year thanks in part to the encouragement of teachers, counselors, principals, coaches, and priests.
“As a school system we remain forward thinking and are committed to high standards as we plan ahead,” Deschaine said. “We have embarked on an intentional growth planning process in 2020-2021. In doing so our schools have been able to honor and reflect on the past and plan for the future.”
Each school’s comprehensive plan strategically focuses on the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools (NSBECS). All 24 schools’ plans center around four pillars:
Mission and Catholic Identity
Governance and Leadership
“This growth process is part of our national accreditation,” she said. “The diocesan intentional growth plan will reflect the individual school plans. It is our priority to continually improve Catholic education across the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.”
In conclusion she said, “We are not only making history, but also writing our story of adaptability, perseverance, and unwavering faith every step along this journey. As I have said countless times, I am inspired by our schools, their advisory boards, and parishes they love and value each one of our students.”
Fifth-grader Stella Gigliotti at morning prayer at St. Mary Grade School in Clarksburg.