Congratulations, graduates! Catholic schools have prepared you well Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, May. 17, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Editor's View by Mary C. Uhler

This is the season of graduations. Students, family members, friends, and teachers are celebrating graduation from pre-schools, grade schools, high schools, and colleges.

It’s a time of great joy mixed with some sadness, as students celebrate their accomplishments but also leave behind the familiar and venture into the unknown.

Parents of high school graduates especially find themselves looking forward to their children growing into adults and possibly leaving home for college. Some parents may face the empty nest with trepidation — and others may high five their spouses!

Value of Catholic education

Parents of students who have attended Catholic high schools should be optimistic about their children’s future. From personal experience I know the value of a Catholic education. I graduated from Catholic elementary and high schools myself and feel I had an excellent education.

Our children also had an outstanding education at Our Lady Queen of Peace School and Edgewood High School in Madison. They went on to attend Catholic colleges, where they earned degrees. Our son also obtained a master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Higher graduation rates, college attendance

It seems as if our children are the rule, not the exception. A recent study published by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) reports that students who attend Catholic high schools are more likely to graduate and attend college than students attending other schools.

Catholic secondary schools have a graduation rate of 99.1 percent. That is higher than rates reported by other religious schools (97.9 percent), non-sectarian schools (95.7 percent), and public schools (73.2 percent).

Students graduating from Catholic high schools are also more likely to attend four-year colleges (84.7 percent) than students graduating from religious (63.7 percent) and non-sectarian schools (56.2 percent). Public schools report only 44.1 percent attending four-year colleges.

Worth the sacrifices

Catholic schools have accomplished these results by educating students from all races and economic backgrounds. In fact, many Catholic schools provide a great deal of financial aid to allow students from disadvantaged families to attend their schools.

Even though sending students to Catholic schools involves greater expense and parental involvement (which is probably a good thing), it certainly seems to be worth the cost and sacrifices parents make. Parents want their students to succeed by graduating from high school and having the opportunity to attend college and eventually find a job. Parents look forward to their children becoming well-adjusted and self-sufficient adults.

The fourth R

But beyond the academic and job successes, I think most Catholic parents hope their children will be morally and spiritually prepared for life, too. That’s where Catholic schools also excel in providing opportunities for students to learn to pray, worship God, celebrate the sacraments, and serve others.

Catholic schools often say they educate students with four R’s: reading, writing, ’rithmetic, and religion. That fourth R might be the most important.

This year the Catholic Herald asked students graduating from Catholic schools in the Diocese of Madison what their Catholic education meant to them. The majority of the graduates mentioned the faith dimension as the most important thing they’ve learned.

As Lauren Banke from St. John the Baptist School in Waunakee said, “The reason I love Saint John School is because they helped me become a better person and closer to God.”

As Catholic school graduates move on to the future, let’s hope they remember everything they’ve learned in all four R’s and put their knowledge to good use in bettering the world.

Congratulations graduates, parents, and Catholic schools for the great job you’re doing!