EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 26, 2013

Catholic Schools Week set to begin tomorrow

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.

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