Summer is Busy Time for Catholic Schools

Pictured above are the 81 individuals from the Diocese of Orlando that participated in a four-day summer institute June 16-19 at the University of Notre Dame.

By Linda Caldwell, Director of Marketing for the Eastern Region of the Diocese of Orlando, Office of Catholic Schools

Classes may not be in session in the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Orlando, but faculty, staff and students remain busy all the same.

With the classrooms empty, summer offers the perfect time to spruce up the environment. All of the schools take this opportunity to paint walls, wax floors and do a thorough cleaning. Some take on substantial projects, such as installing new energy-efficient windows, enhancing security and sound systems, replacing and/or repairing gym floors, roofs, and air conditioning units, while others remodel classrooms to accommodate new technology and media centers, art rooms and even a demonstration kitchen and café (Morning Star Catholic School). Playgrounds and campus grounds are also enhanced with new equipment and landscaping.

At the same time, faculty and administration are taking this time to prepare for changes in the classroom and curriculum. For example, beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, all of the classrooms at Blessed Trinity Catholic School in Ocala will be equipped with the latest iPads. The school also installed a 3D printer as part of the expansion of its Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math (STREAM) program. St. James Cathedral School in Orlando added a new, dynamic theatre program to its curriculum.

Four of our schools – Holy Redeemer in Kissimmee, St. Andrew in Orlando, and Our Lady of Lourdes Academy and Basilica of St. Paul School, both in Daytona – will open their doors this academic year as Notre Dame Ace (Alliance for Catholic Education) Academies. The ACE program is a 20-year-old initiative developed by the university to provide the best Catholic education possible to underserved communities.

To prepare for the new adventure in education, 81 faculty, administration and pastors, as well as Office of Schools leaders Jacquelyn Flanigan, associate superintendent for professional development, and Joseph Belinski, school planning director, participated in a four-day summer institute June 16-19 at the University of Notre Dame.

“It was four days of very peaceful, very collaborative types of activities and meetings,” said Gloria Del Orbe, principal of Holy Redeemer Catholic School. “They had team-building activities. We had time to reflect as a faculty (and) we came up with a commitment for our school. I look forward to building on our strengths.”

Amid all of this activity, the schools opened their doors to the students, hosting a myriad of camps on technology and science, robotics, band, sports, arts, summer reading and math as well Vacation Bible Schools.

Dr. Kathleen Kiley, principal at All Souls Catholic School in Sanford, sums it up best when she said, “We’ve been very busy getting ready to welcome our students back for the 2015-2016 school year!”

The first day of school is Aug. 12.

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