The mention of a Catholic school evokes a couple of thoughts in the mind of the average person.
Typically, images of uniforms and state-winning football teams come to mind. With further thought, the idea of daily prayer surfaces. Most people stop the process here, which is unfortunate because there are so many aspects of a Catholic education that are overlooked. A Catholic education provides more than just religious teachings; it develops teenagers into well-rounded, confident young adults.
Students attend religion classes and learn about the teachings, history and roots of Catholicism. For non-Catholics, these classes show a glimpse into the philosophy of another religion, which is integral in the process of becoming more cultured and educated. I love having answers to religious questions, and I struggle when I can’t find answers.
During my years at a public school my faith weakened due to the lack of education I had regarding the Catholic faith, but my time at Roncalli has since reinvigorated my faith. Apart from religion classes, there are numerous other ways in which Catholic schools have helped my academic career. Due to the fact that teachers must make significant sacrifices in order to teach at Catholic schools, those who choose to do so are among the greatest educators.
Another aspect of a Catholic education that is often overlooked is the sense of camaraderie that is fostered within the walls of Catholic schools. As a student who has been involved in extracurricular activities in public and private schools, my experience at Roncalli has been firmly rooted in brotherhood. One activity is soccer, which I have played at the school and club level. I loved club soccer, and my teams were always close, but playing at Roncalli was different. Praying before games and having a strong, common faith allowed for an unparalleled sense of camaraderie as a player for the Rebels.
I have also been involved in the theater department, where the term “family” isn’t used lightly. Actors and techies alike share in the family that is the Roncalli theater department. The closeness comes from the hours we spend together. Support is omnipresent, and we all look out for one another. Every shoulder is a shoulder to cry on. My experience in other theaters has been nothing like this; this experience is specific to Catholic education.
Outside of extracurricular activities, there is a strong sense of friendship among the Roncalli family, as clearly seen at our monthly all-school Masses, where we close each service by singing “Lean on Me” with unimaginable enthusiasm. I may be wrong, but I don’t think the entire school just has an uncanny preference for Bill Withers songs. There is a tangible, real, emotional feeling behind those lyrics.
The presence of faith in the classroom has meant a lot to me as a Catholic student, but the two minutes of prayer every day between the second and third periods haven’t influenced me as much as the passionate teachers and family bond among the students.
My life has been altered by Catholic education; I am firmly rooted in my faith and my college path is paved well. While my education cannot be summed up by successful sports teams or uniforms or any other obvious stereotypes, it has provided me with an unparalleled path to success and shaped me with opportunities unobtainable in any other setting. I am a proud product of Catholic education and am stronger because of it. I can only hope to get stronger.