Yesterday we kicked off Catholic Schools Week 2022. It was wonderful to see so many of our current families as well as prospective families touring our classrooms and speaking with our students, teachers, and Parent Ambassadors at the Open House. Student work was on display, and we were thrilled to be able to demonstrate our new SMART TV technology. The energy was effervescent, and it was evident that our students are excelling.
The message of God’s gifts in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12 is an important one, and it certainly embodies one of the mainstays of Catholic education. God has provided each of us with gifts and talents, which we are called upon to nurture and develop, not only for our benefit, but also in service to others. Everyone’s gifts are unique and valuable, and no person should ever think his/her gifts are inferior. Children need to be given time to identify their gifts through a broad range of experiences. Sometimes gifts emerge in the least likely of places, and we would never know we possessed gifts if not given the opportunity to cultivate them.
As the largest Catholic elementary school in the Diocese of San Diego, we are fortunate to be able to offer a wide range of experiences for our students. Teachers provide our students with a high-quality academic education, ensuring that they are well-prepared to excel, not only at the next grade level but in high school and beyond. From Kindergarten through Grade 8, all students are challenged to achieve their greatest potential, which often is accompanied by a little bit of struggle in the mastery process. We ask our students to not only provide answers to problems but also to defend and explain their reasoning. Inquiry and discovery are key to student learning, especially in science and math. For this reason, our students are exposed to a multitude of project-based learning experiences. They learn how to work collaboratively with other students and teams, and they regularly are asked to present their ideas to small and large groups – sometimes in front of parents or the entire school!
Hidden talents may surface when our students engage in the numerous co-curricular classes we are fortunate to be able to offer: Art, Vocal and Instrumental Music, Physical Education, Spanish, and Technology classes give students the opportunity to shine; and our after-school activities, which include STEM, after-school sports, choir, chess, academic decathlon, and theater allow students to grow their skills as well as their confidence.
Yesterday, our eighth graders participated in the national competition, Future City, in which teams of students work together to create a city one hundred years in the future. The theme for the competition was “A Waste-Free Future!” and teams used the three principles of a circular economy to design a futuristic, waste-free city. Students had to write an essay, build a physical model, record a 7-minute video presentation, engage in a Q & A session with judges, and submit a project plan. St. Michael’s School registered 10 teams, and five of those teams earned awards. As a school, we placed second in the Southern California region, against a field of 24 other schools.
Our students were successful yesterday because they were able to develop their God-given talents throughout their tenure at St. Michael’s School. Beginning in Kindergarten, and culminating in eighth grade, our curricular program is comprehensive, aligned, and focused. Students build upon prior knowledge year after year in a systematic way. They are continuously encouraged, praised, and sometimes consoled. We believe they can do great things because God believes they can do great things – and they never disappoint.