By Yadira Betances
---- — Tomorrow, parochial schools locally and across the country kick off Catholic Schools Week under the theme, “Catholic Schools Raise the Standard.” Schools will celebrate with Mass, open houses, community projects, family nights, no uniform days and special events for teachers, staff members and volunteers.
And while the schools have maintained their faith value at the center of their curriculum, the face of Catholic schools is changing.
Presentation of Mary Academy, an all-girls high school in Methuen, became co-ed in 2011. The school has 188 students with 44 of them male, said Principal Rose Maria Redman.
The school at 209 Lawrence St., also opened its campus to 40 international students who come from China, Korea, Spain, Bosnia and Syria. They live in Marian House, a mansion considered one of the area’s most historic structures with wireless Internet service and cable television.
“For the first time I see the theme reflect the goals of Presentation of Mary. People see what we do in reaching out to the community and the quality of education the students are receiving,” Redman said.
Julie DiFilippo, executive director at Bellesini Academy agrees.
“The vision is something we do every day. The theme fits nicely with our goal of striving to be their best,” DiFilippo said.
For the past 10 years, Bellesini Academy at 94 Bradford St., has offered a Catholic education to middle school boys through a rigorous 12-hour day. The school also offers after-school activities including animal education at Nevins Farm in Methuen; engineering design; Invention Convention; and Robotics Project; chess, debate, drama, Model Building and Philanthropy clubs.
Bellesini alumni are now studying at Providence College, University of Pennsylvania, Clark University, Northeastern University, St. Michael; University of New Hampshire, Merrimack College and University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
“Our success is due to the commitment of the faculty and staff who use technology in the classroom and creative programs offered after school,” she said.
Central Catholic High School has taken technology one step further by offering online courses through Virtual High School, a consortium of high schools from across the globe, said David DeFillippo, director of advancement.
The classes are open to juniors and seniors with a grade point average of 2.5 or better and more than 40 students are enrolled in the program, he said.
Students can chose from one of 150 courses including creative writing, oceanography, astronomy, criminology, Irish literature, mythology and the Vietnam War. They also have the option of taking advanced placement classes such as statistics, environmental science, economics, computer science and world history. in order to be part of the consortium, each school has to have a teacher train to teach. At Central Dennis King, and diseases. “We’re very excited about the opportunity it gives our students,” DeFillippo said. “It’s more than we can ever offer with a fixed number of faculty and classrooms.”
Central Catholic at 300 Hampshire St., also has a dual enrollment project with Syracuse University. Central students take classes designed by the New York university and in addition to getting credit, their participation appears on their transcripts.
The newest parochial school in the city is Lawrence Catholic Academy, established after the merger of St. Patrick and Our Lady of Good Counsel schools three years ago.
Lawrence Catholic Academy housed at the former St. Patrick School at 101 Parker St. is expanding on more than 100 years of education offered at the former schools with close to 500 students in nursery school to eighth grade.
Principal Sister Lucy Veilleux is more than happy at the results of the new school.
“The school has worked because of the parents, the students and we’ve been able to create a family community,” Sister Veilleux said.
John Licciardi, director of advancement agreed.
”The reception from the parents and the community has been phenomenal,” he said. “Parents chose Catholic school because they feel it really prpares students for high school and college. In addition to academics, it instills values that goes with Catholic education.”
Out of the 493 students enrolled at Lawrence Catholic Academy, 80 percent come from Lawrence as well as Methuen, Andover, North Andover, Amesbury, Haverhill as well as Salem, Derry, Atkinson, Danville and as far as Brentwood, N.H.
In addition to science, computer and math, the school offers extra curricular activities including science club, game club, Go Green club and homework help. The school has a partnership with Merrimack College students who work with the science classes and the after-school program. Students from Notre Dame High School assist administrators and teachers in various capacities to complete their work-study program.
Lawrence Catholic Academy is overseen by a 14-member board of trustees, which monitors grades, student retention and the school’s financial stability.
Licciardi said the board will work to increase the enrollment and update the school which opened in 1906 by the Sisters of Charity of Halifax. The school has five religious women on its staff.
Other local schools in the area are St. Michael in North Andover; St. Augustine, Andover; Notre Dame High School in Lawrence; St. Monica in Methuen; St. Joseph of All Saints Parish in Haverhill; Sacred Hearts in Bradford. St. Joseph Regional in Salem; St. Patrick, Pelham; St. Thomas Aquinas, Derry.
Christ Church, 25 Central St., Andover: The James Thompson Brass Quintet performs a brass and organ concert Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. Barbara Bruns plays the C.B. Fisk organ. Suggested donation is $15 for adults; $10 children and senior citizens.
Congregation Beth Israel, 501 S. Main St., Andover: Fifth and sixth graders lead Torah services Feb. 9 at 10 a.m.
Corpus Christ at Holy Rosary, 35 Essex St., Lawrence: Anointing of the sick is today following the 4 p.m. Mass. The parish hosts “Why Catholic?” — a program focusing on the first of two parts of the Creed, Feb. 4 and every Monday at 1 p.m. and Feb. 5 and Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. Workbooks cost $14.
Faith Lutheran, 360 S. Main St., Andover: A new Wednesday morning Bible study group at Faith Lutheran Church, led by Pastor Marsha Heydenreich, will meet at the church every Wednesday from 10 to 11:30 am, beginning Wednesday, February 13. The first theme will be “The Old Testament in Matthew,” focusing on the place of the Old Testament scriptures in the Gospel. For more information or to sign up, visit www.faith-andover.org, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (978) 475-4059.
Little Sisters of St. Francis, 8 Barnard Way, Danville: The sisters hold days of prayer for women March 23, April 13, Sept. 28 and Nov. 26; for men on May 18 and Oct. 19 and for married couples on Aug. 24 all from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For reservations, call 603-382-7490 or send an email to email@example.com.
Merrimack College, 319 Turnpike St., North Andover: Members of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim community come together in Prayer, Feb. 6, 7-8:30 p.m. in Cascia Hall.
North Parish, 190 Academy Road, North Andover: The Rev. Lee Bluemel and the Membership Committee lead “Exploring Unitarian Universalism,” Sundays, Jan. 27, Feb. 3 and Feb. 10, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Reservations can be by sending an email to MembershipCoordinator@northparish.org. The movie, “Bag It” will be shown Feb. 3, 6:30-8 p.m.
Sacred Hearts, Main St., Bradford: Dr. Paul DiPietro offers a six week course on the mystery of faith, Catholic doctrine, practice and spirituality Tuesdays beginning Jan. 29, from 6 to 9 p.m. The book, “The Mystery of Faith” by the Rev. Michael Himes will be use for the course. Cost is $60 and financial aid is available. The class is offered by the St. Thomas Aquinas High School Adult Education program in Derry.
St. Basil Salvatorian Center, 30 East St., Methuen: Memorial Mass for the Rev. James Carroll is celebrated Monday at 7 p.m. The former pastor he worked with the youth at St. Basil.
St. David Episcopal, 213 Main St., Salem: A seven-week series on basic Christianity begins Jan. 27. The group will use the video “Embracing an Adult Faith” and catechism in the Book of Common Prayer followed by discussion.
St. John the Baptist, 110 Lincoln Ave., Haverhill: Citywide youth Mass is tomorrow at 5 p.m., followed by a scarf and blanket making party.
St. Joseph of St. Mary and Joseph Parish, 33 Main St., Salem: The Rev. John Michalowski leads a workshop on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius now through June. Participants will pray 45 to 60 minutes a day over the assigned scripture passages or meditations from Ignatius’ exercises, then write their experience in a journal. The program, “Exploring the Catholic Faith” where participants reflect on the Sunday gospel and discuss it, continues Sundays, 7-8:30 p.m. through Easter.
St. Matthew, 2 Searles Road, Windham: The Eyes on Jesus prayer group meets tonight at 5 p.m. for praise and worship through scripture, prayer and songs. Men of St. Joseph meet Feb. 9 at 7:15 a.m. with praying of the rosary, Mass celebrated by the Rev. Thomas Frink of Sts. Mary and Joseph parish in Salem. Breakfast and reflection by Frink follow.
St. Michael, 196 Main St., North Andover: The Tuesday Bible study group explores the book of Revelation at 7:30 p.m. The parish celebrates Father Paul Keyes’ 50th anniversary as a priest, Feb. 3 at noon. Reception follows. “Why Catholic?” a faith sharing group begins Feb. 10 and meets for six-week to explore the key tenets of the apostle’s creed with emphasis on the trinity, the incarnation and the paschal mystery.
St. Monica, 212 Lawrence St., Methuen: The Rev. Taurasi celebras the 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood Feb. 3 at 11:30 a.m. Reception follows.
St. Patrick, 118 S. Broadway, Lawrence: “Life and Faith” adult faith formation series exploring part II of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church will be held Feb. 21, March 14 and April 11, from 7-8:30, through April.
St. Paul Episcopal, Main St., North Andover: The Women’s Book group reads “The Postmistress” by Sarah Blake, Feb. 27 .
Temple Emanuel, 7 Haggetts Pond Road, Andover: Members of the temple’s Brotherhood host a breakfast Jan. 27 at 8:30 a.m. Cantor Idan Irelander leads a bar and bat mitzvah class for adults beginning Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. Participants will learn to read Hebrew, the history of music and chant the Torah trope or the musical phrase cantillation applied to sacred text during public readings. “The Lemon Tree” will be shown during the deli dinner and movie night Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. Cost is $15 and reservations must be made by Feb. 7.
Temple Emanu-El, 514 Main St., Haverhill: On Feb. 3 at 1 p.m., the temple host memorial service honoring the Jewish, Catholic and Protestant chaplains who gave their life preservers when the USS Dorchester sunk on Feb. 3, 1943. The event is sponored by the American Legion, District 8. Reception follows at the Haverhill American Legion Post 4, 1314 Main St. Haverhill native and best-selling author Larry Tye speaks on his latest book, “Superman: Who Knew he was Jewish” Feb. 3 at 9:30 a.m. Bible study class on the issues concerning Israel and the Middle East meets Feb. 9 at noon.
Trinitarian Congregational, 72 Elm St., North Andover:The Rev. Richard Knight leads a discussion on Garry Morgan’s “Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day,” Wednesdays at 7 p.m. The book costs $12.
Universalist Unitarian, 15 Kenoza Ave., Haverhill: Lectio Divina, a contemplative way to experience sacred texts in a small group setting meets tomorrow at 9:15 a.m. and the fourth Sunday of the month. The Book Group discusses “Redfield Farm” a novel by Judith Redline Coopey chronicling a Quaker family’s work on the underground railroad, Feb. 10 at 9:15 a.m.