The ubiquitous car line, the trudging of feet in the hallways, the ringing of the first bell, morning prayers and then classroom instruction.
These scenes are repeated each day at the 15 Diocese of Venice Catholic schools which began instruction for the 2022-2023 Academic Year on Aug. 8, 2022, with the full complement of 5,837 students engaged in schoolwork by Aug. 10.
The first days were full of everyone figuring out where to go, reuniting with old friends or making new ones, participating in their first academic lessons and taking part in any of a myriad of extracurricular activities.
At Diocesan Catholic schools, each student attended an opening Mass, either the first day of school, or within the first week.
Jesuit Father John Belmonte, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education, started the year by celebrating Mass for students at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples on Aug. 10, and then doing the same on Aug. 16, for the students at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers.
Diocesan schools are fully implementing the STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) learning model into all classrooms. At the same time, the incorporation of the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence,” is growing out of a robotics program which broadens the opportunities for each student.
This approach, fully supported through the generosity of Bishop Frank J. Dewane, places students ahead of the curve in primary fields while continuing to promote core Catholic virtues by helping students to develop cognitive thought processes and gain skills such as leadership, communication, complex problem solving, teamwork and creativity.
The first Friday at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples was a House Retreat Day, where new students are assigned to one of four Houses which serve as their center of social and school spirit activities throughout the coming year. Each of the four teams competes for points to earn different rewards or prizes throughout the year, with a trophy for the winners at the end.
The first week flew by at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, where 854 students, the most in its long history, roamed the halls. The week concluded with the annual Freshman Retreat from Aug. 12-13. Students learned about Bishop Verot and the traditions and expectations being a Verot Viking. The retreat is led by seniors who will serve as mentors to the underclassmen as they go forward in high school. Highlights of the weekend included doing service work in the community at the Humane Society and Food Bank among other locations. They students also took part in a traditional candlelight prayer vigil in the courtyard.
Enrollment numbers are also way up at St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring where the students quickly dove into their studies in reading, writing, mathematics, science, technology, Spanish and much more, but all grounded in the Faith.
The largest Diocesan elementary school, St. Francis Xavier in Fort Myers, has 578 students, and the campus was buzzing as classrooms filled and everyone settled into the school year.
Just before school began, the three Catholic schools in Lee County were the beneficiary of the Catholic Schools Night on Aug. 5, at The Mighty Mussels minor league baseball game at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. Part of the proceeds benefitted the St. Francis Xavier, Bishop Verot, as well as St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral. St. Andrew Principal David Nelson threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
For the first time ever, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte began its first bus run with 24 on board, including six from nearby Arcadia. This is an exciting opportunity for children from this part of the Diocese to experience a Diocesan Catholic education.
These are just a few of the examples of what took place during the first week of school in the Diocese of Venice and doesn’t even come close to covering the full scope of the exciting things that are taking place each day. Stay tuned as we follow our students throughout the school year
To learn more about Diocese of Venice Catholic schools, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/education.