by Bob Reddy, Florida Catholic (5/18/2012)
NAPLES â€“Â Each year the three Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Venice send into the world some of the best prepared students.
The Class of 2012, which includes students at St. John Neumann in Naples, Bishop Verot in Fort Myers and Cardinal Mooney in Sarasota, will have 300 graduates. The Diocesan graduates go forth having received an excellent education based on Gospel values. Among the graduating class, 99 percent have plans to go on to higher education armed with a combined $13.6 million in scholarships, after dedicating tens of thousands of hours of service in the community.
Students at each school are nurtured in a supporting and spiritual environment to become life-long learners who will use their Catholic school education and experience to carry on God’s work. It is no surprise that some of the top graduates at these schools reflect their school and the values that were instilled upon them during their four years of education.
Janny Evenhuis said that during her time at St. John Neumann High School she grew in her faith in exciting ways while learning how to better put her beliefs into action.
â€śThe culture of being at a school where you can openly talk about your faith and share a common bond with your classmates was a great weight off my shoulders,â€ť Janny said. â€śYou develop into a family that has a culture of helping you grow as a person.â€ť
Calvin Wheeler, of Cardinal Mooney High School in Sarasota, said the opportunity to have an education which emphasized values as compared to a public school was very enriching for him.
â€śYou receive a more well-rounded education that has a base from which you can grow,â€ť Calvin explained. â€śThat is an opportunity none of my friends in public school had. I thank my parents for supporting me and allowing me to pursue my dreams at Cardinal Mooney.â€ť
Kap Owens, of Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, said that having an education which revolves around his faith, helped him both spiritually and academically. â€śI found a deeper connection to my faith that I didnâ€™t know I had. I plan to carry that forward in my life.â€ť
Janny, Calvin and Kap each said the benefits of going to a Catholic high school in the Diocese of Venice were many-fold. With smaller enrollment, the students have an opportunity to be more involved within a positive environment which seems more like a family than a school. The faculty also challenged the graduates to explore their faith and to dream bigger while helping them to be prepared spiritually, personally and academically for the next phase of their education in college.
â€śFrom day one, I knew I was at a school that would help me prepare for college,â€ť Calvin said of Cardinal Mooney. Calvin knew early on that he wanted to be a Math teacher or professor and will chase that dream at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. â€śI was given direction in my first two weeks as a freshman and then was free to build upon what I wanted to pursue. This was very different than my friends in public school who were forced to take the same classes as everyone else.â€ť
Kap, who will be taking Pre-Med classes at the University of Miami, said that his teachers at Bishop Verot pushed him to not only learn information but to understand what he was learning and to think about it on the context of the real world. â€śThat will help me get ahead of others. I know I will excel in college. I have no doubt.â€ť
Janny will be going to Case Western University in Ohio, and will follow a life-long dream of becoming a veterinarian. â€śI put in a lot of work into my education and was rewarded at St. John Neumann with getting much more back. The rigorous academic standards set by the teachers and by myself helped me achieve my goals.â€ť
While Janny, Calvin and Kap are a small sample of the 400 students in the Class of 2012, they do represent what is good about Catholic education. They are dedicated, committed young women and men who will represent their schools and the Diocese of Venice proudly as they move forward in their lives.