Weeklong Celebration of Catholic Schools Begins Today


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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Catholic Schools Week begins today and continues through Saturday with both in-person and virtual celebrations for students and their families, church members and the general public.

This year's theme is ``Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.'' Activities will include special Masses, open houses and a variety of special activities for students.

For the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which encompasses schools in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, the weeklong celebration will also recognize its success in growing the student population, responding to the coronavirus pandemic and planning for campus improvements.

``We have experienced a 2.6% systemwide increase in enrollment, academic performance growth and many of our schools have received grants to make facility improvements and add new academic programs for our students,'' Senior Director and Superintendent of Catholic Schools Paul Escala said.

``While these have been challenging times due to the pandemic, our schools rose to the challenge by effectively transitioning to distance learning and then back to in-person classes safely. The success of our Catholic schools is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our students, teachers, staff and families.''

Escala said that during the pandemic, the Archdiocese worked with local public health departments to supply schools with more than 300,000 N95 and surgical masks, more than 40,000 rapid tests and provide access to on- campus testing.

During the weeklong celebration, members of the Archdiocese plan to recite special prayers for the nation's wellbeing and honor teachers, parents, and essential workers. Students will participate in sports and team-building activities on campus and service activities in the community.

On Wednesday, Archbishop José H. Gomez will help dedicate a new building at St. Gertrude the Great school in Bell Gardens that will include a new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) laboratory, a faculty lounge, a counselor's office and a meeting room --which the campus has never had -- along with other amenities.

``This building will significantly impact both our school and parish community now and into the future,'' St. Gertrude the Great Parish Pastor Father Nabor Rios said. ``The addition of a brand new STEM lab offers St. Gertrude the Great students an opportunity to achieve their goals and dreams as they move into a competitive and demanding world where these skills are both needed and valued.''

More information is available at lacatholicschools.org, on Instagram at instagram.com/catholicedla or on Facebook at facebook.com/catholicedla.

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