Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kansas City has Two of America’s Top 50 Catholic High Schools

And five of them are in Missouri. Congratulations to Pius X and Sion! From the upcoming edition of The Catholic Key:

st piusX HighSchool By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — Dioceses celebrate when one school makes the Acton Institute’s Catholic High School Honor Roll.

But when two make it?

“It is incredible that there are two high schools in Kansas City earning this honor in one year,” said Dr. Dan Peters, diocesan school superintendent.

Peters came to St. Pius X High School Oct. 15 to present a certificate recognizing the award to principal Joe Monachino Jr. and the entire St. Pius X faculty.

Also earning a spot among Acton’s honor roll of the 50 best Catholic high schools in the nation was Notre Dame de Sion High school, a private Catholic academy for young women in south Kansas City.

“This is national recognition that St. Pius and Notre Dame de Sion are exceptional schools,” Peter said after the pre-game ceremony before the football game against Cameron High School.

“It shows the effort that the schools have made for academic excellence, clear Catholic identity, and service to the community,” he said.

Bishop Robert W. Finn also congratulated both schools.

“I am very proud of all the Catholic high schools in our diocese,” he said.

“For St. Pius X and Notre Dame de Sion, recognition from the Acton Institute is particularly meaningful because it confirms that we integrate the Catholic faith into the fabric of our schools and continue to set benchmarks for moral and academic formation.”

The Acton Institute, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., announced its first honor roll in 2004. This year marks the first time that any Catholic high school in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has been honored.

Three other Missouri Catholic high schools earned the award. They were Notre Dame Regional High School in Cape Girardeau and Springfield Catholic High School, both in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, and St. Vincent High School in Perryville in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Monachino and Sion Principal Michelle Olson were also bursting with pride.

“This is the culmination of the hard work of our students, teachers, parents and alumni,” said Monachino, whose school has seen millions of dollars worth of capital improvements from its “Education for Life” campaign.

“Receiving a national honor for our academic excellence, Catholic identity and civic education confirms that we are succeeding in our goal to educate each student to their full academic potential as well as enhancing their growth in Catholic values,” he said. “We are proud to provide an education for life to our students.”

The Notre Dame de Sion community has also raised millions of dollars to enhance its physical plant and strengthen a strong academic program.

“Being a college preparatory high school for young women and having this kind of recognition says Notre Dame de Sion High School is among the best in our nation,” Olson said.

“Our young women live the spirit of Sion through their commitment to community service, academic excellence and community involvement,” she said. “Because of our mission, which is rooted in the Catholic faith and the Sisters of Sion, our students are being prepared to live and lead in a religiously and culturally diverse world.”

In order to be recognized, the Acton Institute requires schools to complete three surveys, examining academic excellence, theology curriculum and social studies/civic education. In addition, this year’s process added a social outreach component, demonstrating the school’s service to the community.

As with all Catholic high schools in the diocese, St. Pius X and Notre Dame de Sion require community service hours as a graduation requirement.

At St. Pius, student-led initiatives have included joining the late Manute Bol, a former NBA star, in raising thousands of dollars to build schools in Bol’s native Sudan.

At Sion, students are actively involved in the movement for inter-faith understanding, an extension of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion work in France in World War II to rescue Jewish children from the Nazi Holocaust.

According to the Acton Institute, the goal of the national Catholic High School Honor Roll is to “acknowledge those schools that maintain high academic standards, uphold their Catholic identities, and prepare their students to actively engage the world.”