Editorial — Academic excellence

One of the most visible jewels in the crown of the archdiocese, one of its most ubiquitous successes, is its schools. Year after year, the excellence of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Louisville is readily apparent.

It’s seen in annual graduation rates and test scores. It’s seen in the percentage of Catholic high school graduates who go on to college or other post-secondary schools. Last year that number was a staggering 99 percent. And it’s been that way for years.

In fact, the National Catholic Educational Association released a report earlier this year that said Catholic secondary schools across the nation have a graduation rate of 99.1 percent.

The report also noted that students who graduated from Catholic high schools are far more likely to attend four-year colleges than students from other religious schools, nonsectarian schools or public schools. The rate of college attendance for Catholic school graduates is 84.7 percent.

As if we needed any additional reminders of the success of our educational efforts, along came the United States Department of Education last week to put yet another feather in our archdiocesan cap.

St. James School in Elizabethtown, Ky., is the latest school in the Archdiocese of Louisville to win the title of “National Blue Ribbon School” based on overall academic excellence. St. James joins a long list of other archdiocesan schools to win the national honor. They include St. Xavier, Assumption and Trinity high schools; Sacred Heart and Mercy academies; and St. Raphael, St. Agnes, St. Albert the Great, St. Margaret Mary, Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity and Our Lady of Lourdes elementary schools and the Sacred Heart Model School.

There’s a story about St. James School’s success in this week’s issue of The Record, and the school will officially celebrate it’s hard-won honor during ceremonies that will be held in November, after school officials have traveled to Washington, D.C. to pick up their “Blue Ribbon School” banner.

There are plenty of other educational success stories in the archdiocese, and here are a few examples of stories that you might have missed. For instance:

  • A student from St. Francis of Assisi School, eighth-grader Cassie Drury, was one of just 30 finalists nationwide chosen to compete in a national science competition for students in grades six to eight. She was selected to represent Kentucky at the Broadcom MASTERS competition at the Carnegie Institute in Washington, D.C. Sept. 28 to Oct. 3. And she’s the latest in a series of St. Francis students to do well in science and mathematics competitions.
  • Ninety-six students from Archdiocese of Louisville Schools were named Senator Jeff Green Scholars by the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority for what a news release from the authority called “outstanding academic performance in high school. The scholars earned their designation by achieving a 4.0 grade point average each year of their high school education, and then scoring at least a 28 composite on the ACT, the measuring stick of academic ability that students must take before entering college.
    Those 96 students came from Assumption, Bethlehem, DeSales, St. Xavier and Trinity high schools and Mercy and Sacred Heart academies. For any student to carry a 4.0 GPA throughout high school is a feat; for our Catholic schools to produce nearly 100 such success stories is remarkable.
  • Each year the Catholic Education Foundation honors elementary school teachers by presenting “The Catholic Education Foundation Teacher Awards for Excellence.” The awards are sponsored by Dan Ulmer and his family, and are presented to a teacher from each of the archdiocese’s 38 elementary schools. This year the awards were handed out Aug. 10 at a special Mass and program held at St. Margaret Mary Church to launch the school year.

Sure, the program occurs every year. And sure, it’s become commonplace to honor our teachers. But let’s not for a minute take this history of academic excellence — this calling to the ministry of pedagogy that so many excellent educators have received — for granted.

The excellence of local Catholic schools has become as much a part of our community as the Twin Spires in the South End or the huge Hillerich & Bradsby bat on Main Street. Educational excellence is just part of what the Archdiocese of Louisville has produced. And it is something in which we should all take pride.

Glenn Rutherford
Record Editor

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