by Vince Cascone
Since 1974, National Catholic Schools Week has been celebrated annually in the United States. It starts the last Sunday in January and runs all week.
The theme for this year is “Catholic Schools: United in Faith and Community.” Schools typically observe the annual celebration with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members.
As we approach Catholic Schools Week, I would like to share with you some summary data and information about our archdiocesan schools. We have 42 schools, including 36 elementary and six high schools.
Our enrollment last year was 13,854 and has increased to approximately 14,000 this year. For the first time in many years, we have had three consecutive years with increases in enrollment.
We strive to have schools that are accessible to all students:
• 13% qualify for free/reduced lunch
• 566 students have Catholic School Support Plans
• 541 students have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)
• 1,324 students have identified disabilities
• 655 students have English as a Second Language (ESL)
• 35 students are attending our schools with international student visas
We have over 1,200 teachers, professional staff and administrators serving our students. The Blessed Seelos Institute, formerly School of Faith, provides faith formation monthly to our teachers, principals and presidents.
All of our elementary schools utilize a program called Education in Virtue, developed by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, and is based on St. Thomas Aquinas’ teachings on the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit. These resources provide a framework that helps all ages understand how to live a more virtuous life.
Our young people are surrounded by a culture that has redefined what it means to be human. Catholic schools must be a beacon of truth to combat a culture that often distorts the truth.
We want our young people to know and understand the glory of the human person. In order to do this, we teach theology of the body. Pope John Paul II proclaimed the sacramental worldview, which allows us to see the rich meaning revealed through the created world and in a profound way through our bodies as human persons created in the image and likeness of God.
Finally, our schools strive to be academically excellent. “If Catholic schools were a state, they would be the highest performing state in the country” (National Catholic Educational Association 2024). Archdiocesan schools rate higher than Kansas public schools in math, language arts, science, average ACT scores and graduation rates.
The state of the Catholic schools in the archdiocese is very strong.