by Lisa Cooper
Catholic vocations in all forms, from religious and priestly to living and working faithfully as a layperson all have to start somewhere. Oftentimes that place is in Catholic schools. In 2015, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) put together a Catholic Schools Fact Sheet highlighting the numerous benefits of a Catholic education. The results were astounding. Their findings indicate that a Catholic education impacts the lives of students far beyond graduation, possibly even for a lifetime. Among the many advantages of graduating from a Catholic school, here are a few of the most notable:
• Catholic school students are more likely to pray daily, attend church more often, retain a Catholic identity as an adult and donate more to the Church.
• Catholic schools tend to operate as communities rather than bureaucracies, which links to higher levels of teacher commitment, student engagement and student achievement.
• Students in Catholic schools demonstrate higher academic achievement than their public school peers from similar socioeconomic backgrounds.
• Currently, 5 of the 8 Supreme Court Justices went to Catholic school
• Catholic school graduates enjoy higher earning potential than public school graduates.
While it’s exciting to see statistical evidence that favors Catholic education, what’s more telling is a glimpse inside the life of a student who has had experience in both non-Catholic and Catholic school environments. Evan Cooper, a non-Catholic and sophomore at Loyola, transferred from another Shreveport private school. He says being at Loyola has certainly made a difference in his life. When asked about specific differences between his experience at Loyola compared to that of his previous school, Cooper says, “The faith aspect has been a big difference. Learning about Catholicism has taught me things I have never heard before. It has given me a real sense of truth.” When asked about how being part of a Catholic school has affected his faith, he says, “[Learning about the Catholic faith] has made me look more deeply into it. There are lots of things that are in the Catholic Bible that aren’t in my Bible, and it makes me wonder what else is out there that I’ve never been taught.”
Changing schools has certainly come with its share of challenges. Cooper echoes this statement as he points out, “I was not used to the effort I had to make academically. It has taken a while to get used to the time I have to put into completing homework and learning material.” He also notes that the faculty at Loyola has played an important part in making the transition easier. “The faculty seems like they are doing more than trying to get you through high school. They really care about you, so they’re trying to make you better for life and stronger in your faith.”
He continues with advice he would give any other student making that transfer, “Loyola may not push you as hard physically, but they will definitely push you harder both in academics and in your character.”
How often do we drive by our Catholic schools without stopping to think about what’s happening inside? We have something very special in our backyards. We have parents, faculty, students and partners working together to make something spectacular happen. We have our Catholic schools, which not only provide our children with a fantastic education, but also which sow in our children the seeds of outstanding character and strong faith that will bear fruit they need to carry them for a lifetime.
Interested in learning more about our diocesan Catholic Schools? Visit www.dioshpt.org/catholic-schools for resources.