Time to Speak 2-2-12

The value of Catholic education

I have been blessed with the advantages of a Catholic education my entire life, but only now that I am about to graduate can I fully appreciate them. The Catholic education I have received has made me a more complete person in my ability to reflect; it has increased my drive as a student and my willingness to serve.
Every year, my school has a theme to help guide the student body forward. This year, it is “Spirit Alive.”
It is a challenge to bring to life the message of Christ in our everyday lives. The tumultuous lifestyle of a high school student often makes it difficult to live up to the high standards of being a Christian. The strenuous academics combined with extracurricular activities shrink dramatically the amount of time for personal prayer. Fortunately, Catholic schools understand the busy schedules of the teenage student body.
Every morning begins with a prayer and a call to bring the “Spirit Alive” in every aspect of my life. The morning prayer is a constant reminder to develop the aspects of myself that are not being tested every day via tests and quizzes. It is a vital aspect of the Catholic school routine to establish time that I would not have otherwise to develop my capacity for personal reflection and prayer.
I did not fully comprehend the advantage that a Catholic education has given me until I observed a class of fresh-
men on a college visit. One of the students in the class, an alumnus from my school, confided in me that his first year was “easy” because all the other students were still “catching up” to the scholastic level that a Catholic education had given.
This news surprised me at first, but after considering an average day at my school, it made sense. There is rarely a vacant teaching position, and many faculty members plan to stay at the school until retirement. Accordingly, it is the teachers who drive the academics at the school. Every day they bring an indomitable attitude that energizes the school day.
It makes the odyssey from my bed to my desk a little easier knowing that the teacher truly cares whether I show up or not. The devotion and enthusiasm of the teachers are the crown jewel of the Catholic School system, and they are what allow the academics of the schools to transcend those of the competition.
The concept of community service is common to many places, but it is particularly important in Catholic schools. From the mission trip to Belize to an organization that provides pallbearers for funerals of the poor, there are many ways to get involved at my school. It was not mandatory that I join a service organization, but the atmosphere of the school allowed me to feel comfortable pursuing that interest, which has exposed me to many walks of life in the process.
The Catholic school system is still thriving despite tougher economic times. While that may seem strange, a closer inspection shows that there is a clear advantage in their unique approach. The students flourish because they have a complete package for learning, starting every morning with the prayer, continuing through the school day with academics and reaching outside of school with service.

Benjamin Koch is a senior at St. Xavier High School.

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