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 | Katie Camario

Celebrating Catholic Schools Week

January 31, 2023 | Veronica, an eighth-grade student at Nativity Catholic School in Brandon, says one of the best parts of attending a Catholic school is being able to live her faith openly.

“I love that we get to express our faith, and then we get to actually learn about it,” she said.

Another highlight is the welcoming atmosphere Catholic schools strive to provide to their students, like Veronica, who was quickly embraced by other students from day one.

“I love that they're very welcoming. Last year in seventh grade, I was new and the first day of school there were three girls who welcomed me with wide open arms, and I just love that about my school,” said Veronica.

Veronica and students attending Catholic Schools across the United States will celebrate National Catholic Schools Week January 29 through February 4, 2023.

Since 1974, National Catholic Schools Week has been celebrated to highlight the value of Catholic schools.

Chris Pastura, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of St. Petersburg, said the first and primary mission of Catholic education is to form students as disciples of Jesus Christ. 

“That's one of the things we focus on every day. It's infused throughout our curriculum and every activity. That's why parents choose us. Those values that they believe in and celebrate in their homes and in their churches, are mirrored at school,” he said.

A look inside the classrooms of Catholic schools around the country will demonstrate the value of Catholic education, where academic excellence is accompanied by faith, community, and service. There are many reasons to celebrate Catholic education including:

·    Catholic schools continually outperform public and other private schools on national assessment tests, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

·    Catholic high schools have a 99 percent college acceptance rate.

·    Catholic schools’ service programs expose students to different communities of need and service to others, raises their social awareness and helps to build a better society.

·    Catholic schools are near the top in national testing in learning outcomes for students receiving free and reduced-price lunch.

·    Urban Catholic schools help stabilize other community institutions.

·    Catholic school attendance boosts the likelihood that a minority student will graduate from high school from 62 percent to 88 percent.

·    Catholic schools contribute to the common good through financial savings to state and local communities. Based on the average public school per-pupil cost, Catholic schools save the American taxpayers more than $22.7 billion a year by not educating those students in public schools.

There are 46 Catholic Schools and Early Childhood Centers in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. They provide a Catholic education to nearly 13,000 students in the counties of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus. If you’re interested in enrolling your child in a Catholic School in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, visit: