Students speak: How Catholic schools have changed my life

The Clarion Herald posed the following three questions to students attending Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New Orleans:

  •  1. What teacher has had an impact on your life, and how did that happen?
  •  2. What blessings have you received from your Catholic school education? Was there a challenging situation that your school (teachers or fellow students) helped you overcome?
  •  3. How inspired have you been by the example of your parent(s) who have had to sacrifice in order to send you to Catholic school?

The response was overwhelming. The Clarion Herald received about 150 submissions from across the archdiocese.  The next few pages speak of the beauty of Catholic education more simply and poignantly than just about anything else we could dream of.

Thank you teachers, parents and students!


My father, my hero
Joey Piwko
Archbishop Rummel

In Jefferson Parish, it’s difficult to get an adequate education without paying for it, so lots of parents opt for private schooling. Everyone makes sacrifices in some way to be able to go to Catholic schools. This is true especially for parents.

My father, a widower, has devoted everything he has to ensure that my brother and I have had an adequate education. This means that my family has less vacations than an average family, and that my father has had to work more hours doing physical labor at 63 years old. My dad’s actions and commitment to me have inspired me to give my all to everything that I can and to never waste an opportunity to help others. He has taught me that if I truly care about something, I shouldn’t give it any less than my best.

This commitment to me and my education on the part of my dad is one the of the greatest blessings of my Catholic education. I have learned a lot in my years at Archbishop Rummel, but the example of sacrifice that my father has given me has taught me more than anything I could learn in the classroom. I pray that my faith continues to carry me throughout my life and I pray that I, too, will one day be the type of father to my children as my father has been to me.

Going the extra mile
Sutton Tallant
4th grade
St. Benilde

A teacher who made an impact on my life was Mrs. Susan Connick. Before I was at St. Benilde, I was homeschooled. My mom noticed I was having a hard time learning how to read. My Mom, Yaya and Papa were very concerned. 

I was tested and I was told that I have a learning disability. My Mom searched for help for me and found that St. Benilde has a program for kids like me who have a hard time reading and learning. Mrs. Susan became my tutor before I was at St. Benilde. While I was learning to read, she helped me get used to the school. She introduced me to some of the teachers I would have once I started school. 

On my first day, I was really nervous and cried a lot. Mrs. Susan came to my car and walked me into school. She helped me feel safe. That year was hard for me. Mrs. Susan always checked on me and made sure I knew she was there if I needed her. She did not just help me with reading; she protected me and gave me self-confidence. She always treated me with kindness, love and respect.

That is what Catholic schools teach you, right?

When I was picked to read at Mass in front of the whole school, I was not nervous. I was excited! My whole family came to see me. Mrs. Susan was there, too.

In Catholic school we are taught that we are made in God’s image. We have to love each other as we would love him. Mrs. Susan is a great example and a great follower of God. I am thankful for Mrs. Susan and the example of God’s love she has shown me.

Gift of second chance
William Bostick Jr.
Jesuit High School

Mr. Michalik is the Jesuit instructor who is the administrator of Operation Upgrade, Jesuit’s academic summer program for economically disadvantaged males in the fifth through seventh grades.

Mr. Michalik has a special gift in the way he relates to his students. At first impression, one would think that his gift is his jocular personality. However, his true strength is his genuine concern and wholehearted love that he has for each and every single individual.

I have been blessed with the privilege of volunteering with Operation Upgrade for the last four years and serving as witness to Mr. Michalik’s unbelievable spirit of compassion. Nothing shows Mr. Michalik’s compassion like his discernment for each of his students. For example, there was one student who made it to his third and final year in the program. He was bright and remarkably talented – doing geometry in the seventh grade! He was a perfect fit for Jesuit’s challenging curriculum – until one day he got into a fight with another student.

The rule at Operation Upgrade is simple: If you fight, you’re gone.

Yet for some reason, Mr. Michalik found the tiniest loophole imaginable and let him stay in the program.

For a while, I wondered whether Mr. Michalik had made the right decision. Until one day we gave the kid a ride home and he told me his routine: because of his family situation, every day he rode the bus (90 minutes) and walked a mile each way, schoolbag and all, to attend camp. That routine would make anyone liable to explode. Mr. Michalik knew this, so he worked as hard as possible to make sure that this one mistake wouldn’t ruin this kid’s chance at a phenomenal Jesuit education.

That summer, Mr. Michalik taught me that rules are very important, but they aren’t everything. Mr. Michalik has had a huge impact, not only on my life, but also on countless young men. He teaches us through his actions to put God first and to truly be a man for others.

I began to love school
Kate Prowell
4th grade
St. Benilde

Ms. Bonura at St. Benilde is the teacher who has made the greatest impact in my life. I  started at St. Benilde in the second grade. I was very nervous to start a new school. Ms. Bonura and I were both new to the school that year. She is the third-grade teacher. She started tutoring me in second grade. She would help me study after school and made me feel more comfortable at school. I loved going to her classroom after school. She gave me snacks and sometimes we would make a craft. She mostly helped me in math and handwriting.

It was the first time I started to love school.

I was very excited because she was my teacher in third grade. I had to study very hard. She helped me understand the work that was hard for me. She wanted everyone in the class to understand what we were learning. Now, I really loved going to school!

Ms. Bonura met my baby sister the first day she tutored me. She was very interested in my sister and cared about her. She would walk me to my mom’s van after tutoring because she knew it was hard for my mom to carry my sister. She would always ask how my sister was doing.

My sister was sick a lot, and sometimes I would have to leave school early.

In March, she became very sick and went to heaven. Ms. Bonura stood by my side and helped me through this time. She became a special friend to me and my family. Then, somehow, my mom realized Ms. Bonura had
my godmother.

I know that God had sent her to me. She helped me become close to God. I will always love and respect Ms. Bonura!

Bringing joy to others
Ava Buras
Mount Carmel

Coming to a Catholic high school as an eighth grader, I was not very religious. However, there was always that little voice in the back of my head that questioned my actions: Why don’t you believe? 

And I could never quite answer it. In the midst of confusion and doubt, it was through my Catholic education that I was given the opportunity to experience my so-called beliefs in ways that actually made sense to me. It wasn’t until I put in the effort that I saw results.

One time I was singing in St. Joseph Church’s choir for an Easter Mass, and I watched a woman in the first pew drop to her knees and cry during the offertory as her husband and children consoled her. My choir director afterward gave a speech about how much our singing really touches people, and it wasn’t until that moment that I really understood the words she had been telling me for years. My gifts have the ability to not only bring joy into this world but also to heal, and that’s when my sense of purpose came to fruition. I am here for others, and that’s my true path toward happiness.

Even as a child in middle school, I was aware of my parents’ financial situation and struggles. This taught me that from a young age, success is defined by the work you put in. Knowing that, I went into high school determined to make the most of my education by taking challenging courses, joining clubs, and taking advantage of service opportunities. The last thing I wanted was for my parents to feel that I was ever ungrateful for the work they put in to send me to a private institution.

I remember when I was attending orientation for Mount Carmel, my mother sat beside me and told me that if I didn’t get the scholarship I had applied for, she wasn’t sure if she could send me to the school. When they announced my name, I was not only relieved but grateful. I know that my parents could have easily sent me to public school, but they didn’t, and when reading into that, it means something greater to me. It shows that there’s something from Catholic education that you can’t get anywhere else.

A nurturing soul
Samantha Arnold
Academy of Our Lady

I’ve had many amazing teachers in my lifetime; however, one teacher has really made a noticeable impact on my life. Kelly Favaloro – Ms. Fav for short – was that person. She’s mostly known for being the drama and speech teacher at AOL, but she teaches a variety of other subjects. Her speech class changed everything for me.

I was an awkward sophomore in high school with a love of speaking; however, I had a giant weight on my shoulders. I had severe social anxiety, therefore I was very quiet in class. I joined speech class to push myself out of my comfort zone, and Ms. Fav did just that. She not only pointed out my obstacles, but also helped me overcome them in speaking. I found myself getting excited every time her class showed up on the schedule, and I started challenging myself more and more.

Fast-forward to the spring musical. I wanted so dearly to audition. However, my anxiety held me back. Just when I decided not to audition, Ms. Fav told me otherwise and suggested I do it. I was about to cry from happiness; it finally felt like all the times I pushed down my fear and spoke in class paid off.

Little does Ms. Fav know that all of those little compliments and remarks about my speeches, acting or voice slowly built me up. I found my love for acting and eventually, my anxiety became easier to manage. Ms. Fav’s faith is so strong and influential, whether it be praying before a show or her benefits for those who are in need. She’s one of the most hard-working women I know, and I’m so lucky to have been in many of her classes. She is truly a force to be reckoned with.

In sickness, prayer
Christopher Monistere
6th grade
St. Benilde School

How do you think my Catholic school community helped me deal with having a brain tumor?

My teachers, fellow students, parents, and Father Robert Cooper made my life better. They helped me when I got the tumor, had many surgeries, was receiving chemotherapy and recovering. They gave me the blessings of prayer, support, love and healing in many ways. I am blessed they are still helping me today.

My teachers came and visited me in the hospital. They brought get-well cards made by my class. They prayed the rosary for me. My teachers spent extra time helping me with schoolwork. They visited me at my house. Now, they still help me with my school work and pray I keep doing well.

Some of my classmates came to the hospital to see me. My whole class came to see me at my house and brought me a pillow. They helped carry my books. They were nice to me. My classmates made me feel happy. My classmates also prayed for me. Now, they keep helping me.

Father Cooper and many school parents have helped me by coming to the hospital and praying. Father Cooper even went to Memphis, Tennessee, to see me when I was in the hospital. Lots of parents are my friends and worry about me. They make me feel happy because I know they love me. They still show me love by spending time with me and showing me how to cook.

My Catholic school community has shown me blessings of prayer, support, love and healing. That is the best education anyone could ever have.

Spiritual welcome mat
Olivia Arnold
Academy of Our Lady

My Catholic school education has impacted me in many ways. Not only do I strive to be a better student, but I strive to be a better person for God.

Regarding my faith, I am Lutheran, but when I was in fourth grade, I transferred to a Catholic school. I switched because of bullying reasons, and my personality was turning negative.

I was nervous switching schools, not only because it was a new school, but also because it was focused on a whole new religion. I thought they were going to force religion on me and “convert” me.

However, on the first day of school, I was proven wrong. Everybody was so accepting and caring. They walked through the difference of the religions, which is not all that much. Throughout the years, I started becoming selfless and started reaching out to other people.

The blessings I have received from my Catholic school education have caused a complete personality makeover. Not only have the teachings and curriculum helped shape my personality, they also have allowed me various opportunities to grow in my faith. My education has given me the privilege to go to religious retreats to help grow in my faith and to put on retreats for my peers so they could do the same. Thanks to these opportunities, my faith is as strong as ever.

The most important thing I have learned from going to a Catholic school is to treat others the way I would like to be treated and to do everything for the love of God. The development of my faith has helped me immensely. I have really bad anxiety, and I stress out about every little detail, whether it be about school or life. With the guidance of my teachers and friends, I am learning how to keep it under control, giving all of my struggles to God.

I have also learned about the importance of time management. I’ve been extremely blessed for the opportunities I have in my life, and I owe a huge thank you to my Catholic school education.

Changed behavior
Shane Scott
6th grade
St. Peter Claver

The teacher who has had an impact on my life is Mrs. Dawn-Annrose Butler, but now we call her Mrs. Haynes, because she has recently gotten married. Mrs. Haynes has had a huge impact on my life. Mrs. Haynes helped turn my life around. It all started in fifth grade when I got put out of math class. Mrs. Haynes happened to be passing by, and she saw me and said, “Why are you not in class?” My reply to her was, “I was playing in class.”

Mrs. Haynes took me into her classroom and had a very long conservation with me. The conversation touched me and helped change me for the better. It also made me feel happy that someone really saw the good in me. The conversation pulled me back on the right path. The conversation touched my heart. That was a conversation I really needed to hear that day. I am thankful for Mrs. Haynes and every word of encouragement in that conversation. 

The conversation made a tremendous impact on my life. It changed my behavior from bad to good. It also helped raised my grades from D’s and F’s to A’s and B’s. I started changing my behavior and, as a result, my grades started picking up. I was starting to feel good about my grades and was doing well in all my classes. All of my teachers started noticing an improvement in my behavior and my grades. Since I changed my behavior, my grades went up, and I passed the fifth grade. 

Now, I am in the sixth grade, and my behavior is better than ever. My grades for the first quarter were fantastic. I had all A’s and one B. My principal, Deacon Houston, tells me every day that I have changed a lot, and he is very proud of me. I am truly thankful for Mrs. Haynes taking the time to encourage me to stay on the right path. 

Sacrifice is worth it
Daria Ball
St. Mary’s Academy

When I was 11, my mother told me I was going to attend Catholic school. She has always been a big advocate of surrounding her children’s lives by God. I remember the day my parents told me. I wasn’t excited, but it was a new experience, considering what I had been put through at my previous school.

My parents never discussed the financial struggle of placing me in Catholic school, but as I got older, I started to understand and see what they were going through. I’m grateful for my parents taking me out of the bad situation I was in and giving me a better option. They went through various hardships, trying to place everything in line for me to have a better life. I knew that, if I worked hard and got good grades, I could help them with the cost of my tuition for the rest of my years here.

Even though I was helping by maintaining my scholarship, I still saw them struggling just as much. Eating out at restaurants became more infrequent, going to the nail salon to get our nails done became monthly instead of weekly, and we even started celebrating everyone’s birthday as a group instead of individually.

These adjustments really made me want to ensure my grades were the best so my parents could see that their money wasn’t going to waste. Seeing their struggle made me want to work even harder and do more to get me closer to my goal of attending medical school, so they would know that their sacrifices were not in vain. In the end, I want my parents to see their child as the God-fearing successful young woman I am growing to be.  

A quiet witness
Truitt Balart
6th grade
Stuart Hall School for Boys

One person who has inspired me is our school’s maintenance man, Mr. Terry Washington. Once, when one of my friends became sick in class, Mr. Terry came and helped to clean up everything for us. 

This moment made me think about how little we appreciate the jobs that many people have. Without Mr. Terry, our school would not be clean. Mr. Terry is always very enthusiastic about his job, which is not always easy to do. Mr. Terry is always nice to everyone. He always says hello to me in the hallways, and he is a positive role model for me and my friends.

I think it is a great thing that we have Mr. Terry at Stuart Hall. I think if everyone in the world had Mr. Terry’s positivity, the world would be a better place without complaining.

She taught us to dance
CeCe Cook
Academy of the Sacred Heart

While I could list every teacher I’ve ever had and a unique quality that each of them holds, I think it is most important to recognize Ms. Leslie Graf, who was my math teacher in seventh and eighth grade. She was not only someone who taught formulas and problems, but she was a role model as well.

She was the teacher who would skip any lunch and stay hours after school to make sure each middle schooler fully understood one lesson. You could tell Ms. Graf truly loved her job and each student. If a student was having a bad day, she would not hesitate to stop whatever she was doing and check in. 

One of the only teachers who would request a dance party at the end of many classes, Ms. Graf was determined for everyone to leave her room with a positive attitude so that we would spread happiness to the next person we saw. 

Our school community took a turn when we received the tragic news that we had lost Ms. Graf last year. A role model for years, my class questioned how the school would continue learning in a positive environment without her here. However, we did exactly what she had taught us. We came together, celebrated her life and laughed at all of our fun memories that she had provided.

Ms. Graf was always encouraging and supportive, and without her I would not be as confident as I am today.

Classmates rallied
Andrew Bosco
7th grade
St. Charles Borromeo School

Mrs. McCarroll has made a huge impact on my life by putting a smile on my face every day. She has also shown me the good things in life. Even though she has gone through tough times, she still makes her students her No. 1 priority.

I have received the knowledge of the Catholic faith from St. Charles Borromeo. When I was in sixth grade my grandfather had a heart attack and I thought my life would never be the same. I was struggling to stay positive and all I could think about was my Grandpa.  Thankfully my classmates and teachers cheered me up and prayed for him. My grandfather survived on the prayers of St. Charles Borromeo.

My mom has inspired me by working overtime in order to pay for Catholic school. Also she has taken me to church on Sundays and holy days of obligation. As a family we go on one vacation to be able to afford Catholic school.

I will give back
Hayward Exposé
St. Augustine

All my life, my parents have worked so hard to provide me with an education. When my parents sent me to St. Augustine High School, I learned so much about how to mature and survive as a black man in this world. They have sacrificed their time, money and even their jobs just so I can be safe and happy. There were even moments when my parents have even risked not eating just to pay my tuition. Because of these actions, I’ve learned to never take your parents for granted as well as to work harder every day.

Dr. J.P.Chia once said, “Parental love is the only love that is truly selfless, unconditional and forgiving.” Following those words, we need to learn how to be more appreciative of our parents and the sacrifices they make for us. There are moments when my parents annoy me, but I know they love me. I know they would do anything for their kids. My parents inspire me to work harder and to give back to the ones who don’t have a lot. In the future I plan to follow in my parents’ footsteps and sacrifice as much as my parents did for me.

Going to St. Augustine has had a positive effect on my life. This school has taught me how to work hard, stay focused and follow my faith. When I wake up every morning, I’m am glad to know that I’m going to a school that is preparing me for my future. The best part of going to St. Augustine is the love and brotherhood from both the faculty and students. Because of my parents’ sacrifice, I am now at a school where I feel like I belong.

‘Maximum Effort!’
Emma Faye Flynn
4th grade
St. Edward the Confessor 

The teacher who has had the most impact on my life is the fourth-grade teacher at St. Edward the Confessor, Ms. Chapotel. Ms. Chapotel is always kind and fair. She is always trying to find new ways to help a student who may be struggling. She finds creative ways to help us all learn, and expects us all to improve who we are as a person and student. She teaches us about the importance of being a good student in subjects like math, science, reading and spelling, but she also teaches us about being a good friend and person in life. She, also, teaches us through her example how to be kind, use manners and our faith.

On her board she has a saying “Maximum Effort” to remind us to give our very best. She explains that this is not about the grade on a test, but about using our very best talents. Ms. Chapotel makes me want to do my best, not for the grade, but so I am the very best me.

A strong mom
Nicholas Bennett
8th grade
Brother Martin 

My primary caretaker and the person who went through the hard but rewarding trial of childbirth, my mother, has greatly influenced my life to make me into the person I am today. Throughout my entire life, l’ve known my mother as a strong-willed woman who never lets anyone walk over her. 

Since the beginning of my Catholic school education, my mom made multiple sacrifices such as giving up her time to help me with school, switching jobs so that she could have easier access to me in case of emergencies, and using large amounts of money to pay my tuition instead of buying a new car.

She has also made sacrifices for her country, as well. She has retired from the Navy and now she works at the Veterans Administration. Every day she picks me up from school and tells me about what a grueling task her job as a nurse is, but she always tells me that she that she continues to work there so that she can pay for my tuition at Brother Martin. I am grateful to have a mom who works very hard just so that she can see me succeed in life. Just knowing that inspires me to do better than excellent.

Peaceful presence
Sophia Schielder
6th grade
St. Edward the Confessor

A challenging situation for me was last year at my old school. I went through bullying, and most days I really hated going to school to the point that I didn’t want to be there. But when I got away from all that, it was like a dream come true. My parents made a decision to remove me from there and put me in St. Edward. 

When it was my first day at St. Edward, I was super nervous because I had never been to another school before. After a week or two, I had met new friends and felt more comfortable.

I realized that all schools weren’t the same. I am blessed that my parents loved me enough to make sure that I was in a good environment.

Parents at forefront
Makayla Chaney
St. Charles Catholic

Seeing my parents sacrifice to send me here is my motivation to succeed in all my classes. I’ve had a Catholic school education since I was in pre-K3. When I was younger I did not see how blessed I was to attend a Catholic school, but as I get older I realize everyday that God blessed me to be at a private school and I am grateful. 

My parents were able to send me to Catholic school when times were hard. I consider that the dedication and love they give to me. Every time I didn’t make the honor roll I used to feel like I let them down, but now in my ninth-grade year it’s different.

I try harder than I ever did because I think about colleges and I want a scholarship, I want my parents to stop paying my tuition in high school, so they can do more in their life and have another bill gone.

My parents are my blessings God sent to me, I focus on making excellent grades because I want to become successful and do things for them to show how grateful I am for all the sacrifices they made for me.

A watchful eye
Leah Cardinal
Visitation of Our Lady

A teacher who has had a big impact on my life was Mrs. Gloria. In kindergarten, we were playing tag at recess when I tripped and fell right onto the cement and I busted my chin open.

My mom came to school and checked me out. We headed to the hospital and I got six stitches.

Mrs. Gloria took me under her wing when I came back to school. Even though she was not my teacher, she would always say, “I have to watch that you don’t fall.” She would come talk and play with me during recess. She is still so nice. I am in fifth grade, and I still remember everything she did for me. I always will.

Love without limits
Arletta Colar
St. Mary’s Academy

My parents have two beautiful girls. We attended Catholic schools all of our lives. To have grown up in a school that not only teaches my religion but also respects it has been a blessing. Since I am the youngest, I have seen my mother and father struggle to keep us in school.  My mother is a nurse, and I remember watching her leave one job, picking us up from school, and dropping us off at home. After feeding us and making sure we finished our homework, she’d get ready to go to her other job. She worked day in and day out just to keep us afloat at home. 

My dad had only one job, but his was just as time-consuming as my mother’s. He’d wake and leave at 11 to be at work for 12. We rarely saw him. As soon as he got home, he would shower, eat, sleep and wake at 11 the next morning. This continued for most of our lives. Both struggled so we’d not only receive the education we deserved, but also do the things we wanted.

I am proud to say that I’ve been a cheerleader for almost 10 years. They worked so many hours and never complained, because it would make a better life for our family. There were some things my family couldn’t do because of tuition payments. We gave up most of the luxurious things that we used to do. We didn’t get our hair done every other week and stopped vacationing every summer.

I am glad I am older and can help out with the expenses. I will use the education my parents struggled so hard to give me and make a better life for all of us. 

Relationship with God
Seren Rodriguez
6th grade
St. Benilde School

I am so grateful that I go to St. Benilde Catholic School. 

When I first moved to Louisiana, I went to a public school, and it was completely different. When I arrived at St. Benilde, Mrs. Kristy Lacoste was the first person to welcome me and made me feel at home. It is because of her that I have a deeper relationship with God.

When I started at St. Benilde, I had not yet been baptized, but Mrs. Lacoste helped me learn more about God and made me want to be baptized so I could take my first Communion, first reconciliation and be a child of God. She was very understanding about having a new student halfway through the first quarter. She treated me like any other student, but when I needed help, I felt like I was her only student.

The way Mrs. Lacoste welcomed me into her classroom and showed me the ways of God impacted my religious life by teaching me about God and wanting to be a follower of him. She was the first teacher to show and teach me about the Catholic faith. I feel like, in the end, she was welcoming me into God’s classroom.

I see her every day, and every day she still has the same bright smile that makes me happy and has made me happy for the last four years. I would like to thank Mrs. Lacoste for being so impactful in my life. I hope that one day I could be like her, help others, be a disciple of Jesus and spread the word of God.

Compassion in grief
Erin Powell
8th grade
St. Charles Catholic

Because of my Catholic education, I have a close relationship with God and with my family. My education has allowed my faith to grow stronger and has helped me to reach the realization of my faith’s value to me as well as my value to my faith community. 

My dad recently passed away. It was extremely hard on my family. My fellow classmates and teachers have been there for me through these tough times. They have been supportive of all of my decisions and have been there for my entire family.

Give or take a thousand
Jake DuMars
6th grade
St. Benilde School

Do you realize how hard parents work? They have to pay for a school for you to go to, buy supplies and clothes, and also have to pick you up and bring you to school.

Do you know how much money it is to get into a Catholic school? It’s over $1,000! They have to save up THEIR own money just to get you into a good school. Some parents have to work two jobs to pay for a Catholic school. They give up their free time just for you to have a better education!

Parents have to buy you clothes and supplies, which is about $100, at least. If you want the best clothes and supplies, it costs extra money.

Parents have to work extra hard for that extra money, especially if they have multiple kids.

Parents have to pick you up, drop you off, pack your lunch or pay for your lunch. Some parents take off of their work just to pick you up and help you with homework.

So be grateful that you’re getting school clothes and supplies and have the opportunity to go to a Catholic school.

Sweet music
Sarah Grosse
Archbishop Chapelle

Both during and before my time at Chapelle, Dr. Compagno  (Doc, as we call him) has faithfully served as our band director. His passion for music shines through his teaching every day, and he inspires all of us to reach our fullest potential as musicians. 

We always joke around with Doc in class, and he gives us so many tools to succeed. His humility and dedication to his students is so admirable, and I’m so grateful to have him as my teacher!

Priority is on school
Patrick Garvey
7th grade
St. Philip Neri School

A teacher who has had an impact on my life is my math teacher, Ms. Hebert. She has helped me in multiple problems and tells me that everything is gonna be all right. She has encouraged me a lot and has told me that I can do anything if I put my mind to it.

The blessings I have received from my Catholic school are learning how to read, tying my shoes, helping me overcome tough situations and teaching me to do good and to always be kind no matter what.

I have also been super inspired by my parents because they do everything they can to make me and siblings happy and healthy, and I want to be exactly like them when I grow up. We couldn’t go on many vacations in the summer because my parents are saving up for college, phones, bills and other things. I love and admire my parents very much. 

Angels surrounding me
Kayla Allen
Cabrini High School

The relationships I have built at Cabrini High School are ones that will never fade. Because Cabrini is such a small school, I am able to have close relationships with both my peers and with my teachers. A teacher who has had an extreme impact on my life is Ms. Paige Holtgreve. 

Ms. Holtgreve is a history teacher but is also one of my best friends. Our relationship has been growing ever since my pre-freshman year at Cabrini, and she is truly someone who I can trust with anything. She has been there for me through all of my troubles, including both school life and personal life. Ms. Holtgreve is genuinely a caring person and like many of the Cabrini faculty, she is there to make high school the best and most comfortable it can be.

The Catholic high school education I have received from Cabrini has been nothing but outstanding. I have been given the opportunity to challenge my brain, push my limitations with AP classes, grow in responsibility and leadership, and serve the Lord in my community. I tend to over-book myself, but I have never been alone. With the help of friends, counselors, and my teachers, I am able to pursue anything I put my mind to.

Over these five years, my parents have truly been inspirational to me. They are so strong, and I am so grateful to have them in my life. Both my mother and father have taken up extra jobs to support my education and allow me to go to such an amazing school like Cabrini. We have missed out on vacations, fun events, and more just to support my education, and I am beyond blessed. I thank them daily for sending me to a Catholic school because I would not know where I would be without both the education and the angels that surround me.

Faith has blossomed
Brealle Coleman
7th grade
Our Lady of Prompt Succor School, Westwego

Catholic School education has impacted my life greatly. I have been a student in Catholic Schools for five years. In that time, I have received many blessings.

Being in a Catholic school gives me the opportunity to participate in Mass each week. Growing stronger in my faith, I have become closer to my God and Savior, Jesus Christ. In Catholic school we are able to observe feast and saints’ days. I even have the privilege of being a lector, which I truly enjoy. We have a religion teacher who teaches us the faith each day. This opportunity has also allowed me to learn more about the Catholic faith and grow spiritually.  Participating in the Christmas program was one of my greatest pleasures in Catholic school. I was able to display my talents of acting and singing. 

The most important inspiration I receive is from my parents. They are incredible. They have sacrificed for my siblings and me to have a good Catholic education. This is something they chose to do for me when they didn’t have to. I am truly thankful! They want me to have a great and successful life so that I may become a better person, and give to others as they have given to me.

More than a coach
Zach Smith
Archbishop Rummel

When it comes to the teachers and faculty at Archbishop Rummel High School, you will find nobody as caring or compassionate as this amazing group of people. However, in my time at Rummel, one faculty member in particular comes to mind when I think of someone who has greatly impacted my life. 

I met Coach Jay Roth at a very young age after my father had brought me to see the Raiders play a football game. My father introduced me to Coach Roth, who was very intimidating in the eyes of someone who was only 6 years old, but I was determined to grow up and play for Coach Roth as a member of the Raider football team.

Eight years later, I joined the football team at Rummel, and Coach Roth’s lessons began:  6 a.m. workouts, three times a week, taught me the habit of getting myself up early in the mornings. The tough drills and conditioning in the summer heat taught me that no matter how badly you want give up, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Coach Roth had dozens of mantras posted all over the locker room such as: “You don’t get what you want, you get what you earn” and “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

I will always live my life by the simple phrases Coach Roth gave us each season. Each thing we did for football had a deeper lesson within it. I don’t know where I would be today without the life lessons Coach Roth instilled in me during my time at Archbishop Rummel. 

Thankful for this gift
Vito Eshleman
7th grade
St. Catherine of Siena 

Teachers should be a big part of every student’s life. They spend more time with teachers a day than their parents. I have a teacher who comes to mind who I believe really helped me through some tough times. My history teacher, Mr. K, is one that I believe truly made an impact on my life. He taught me that history isn’t something that I should be afraid of; it should be something that shows us past mistakes of others and how not to make the same mistakes as our ancestors.

As he said at the beginning of the year, “If you do not learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it.”

My Catholic school education is probably the most important thing in my life. If I didn’t have this same education, I wouldn’t really know much about God and it’s a real shame that some kids can’t learn about God because of financial troubles. 

My friends here at SCS have gotten me through some really tough times. Recently my great grandma passed away, and I was devastated. My friends got me back on my feet from that dark time. They’d always help me out and say “it’s gonna be OK.” 

My parents sacrifice a lot for me and my sister to go to SCS. My dad works a 9-6 job, and my mom is a teacher at Archbishop Rummel (Go Raiders!). They work long hours, but they and I believe that my Catholic education is worth it. Catholic education in my opinion is worth any price in the world.

Caring teachers
Cameron Williams
Archbishop Shaw

I believe going to a Catholic school has helped form me into the young adult I am today. I have received many blessings from attending a Catholic school. 

Some of these blessings are as simple as having teachers who actually care about how you do in school and having teachers who want to help you succeed. 

My biggest challenge in school was trying to keep myself focused and pushing through even when I thought I couldn’t do any better. I would not have been able to get through this if it weren’t for my teachers believing in me and pushing me to do better.

Taught me to be kind
Camryn Canale
5th grade
St. Christopher

One of the teachers who has made an impact on my life is Mrs. Pomes.  I had the chance of being in Mrs. Pomes’ class in first grade. Mrs. Pomes is not just a good teacher but also a parent figure.

During first grade, I had surgery and Mrs. Pomes sent my favorite class buddy, Sam, a stuffed animal, home with me to keep me company during my recovery.

She also checked in on me until I returned to school.  She kept me in her prayers and my classmates back at school made get-well cards for me.  She is nurturing and kind.  When I went back to school I was lucky enough that she was patient in getting me caught up on all the things I missed.

I remember feeling lost with all the assignments I missed, but she helped me to believe in myself and that we would get through this together.  Mrs. Pomes has influenced who I am today because of her kindness.

All it takes is one act of kindness to impact someone’s life. The day she offered Sam for comfort was the day she made a difference in my life.  She has taught me to be kind.

Leadership nurtured by caring teacher
Zoe Elam
Ursuline Academy

I have received the blessings of leadership. If it were not for my Catholic education, then I would have never thought of my hidden leadership skills. Ursuline sent me to the Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI), which helped me learn about leadership through my faith. Ursuline has also allowed me to learn more about my faith and make me want to work for my faith. Our campus minister, Ms. Joubert, has helped me understand my faith in times when I get overwhelmed with my emotions. I am now ready and prepared for the challenges that college will bring to my faith life.

Family that prays
Kasey Sabido
7th grade
St. Edward the Confessor

I’m one of four kids in my family, and I am able to go to a Catholic school. I am super inspired by the sacrifices my parents make to send all four of us girls to a Catholic school. My family has never been on an elaborate vacation like Disney World or where we all want to go, Belize.

My family is full of love, so we don’t need any of that: all we need is God. “A Family that Prays Together, Stays Together” – Proverbs 22:6.

On long days at work, my dad works so hard we barely get to see him in the morning or at night. My parents chose to send us to a Catholic school for a reason.

I work my best for my parents so I can help them by getting a scholarship. I hope to become as good a parent as they are someday.

Found my faith
Annalise Eiffert
Academy of the Sacred Heart

When I was younger, I always saw going to Mass as a chore I had to get out of the way on Sunday mornings, and I never forged a deep relationship with God. 

When I got a little older, I experienced a life-changing event that shattered my life, and because I did not have a strong connection to God beforehand, I questioned my faith. 

However, I would say that this was probably one of the most important events in my faith because it actually strengthened it and showed me that incredible things can come from hard times. It also helped me see why some people could lose their faith and that as Catholics, we should support their journey back to God. 

Shortly after finding my faith again, I started going to a Catholic school, and the students and teachers there helped me even more in creating a deeper bond in the church. 

Through projects and activities, such as going on retreat with my class, I have been able to continuously strengthen my bond with God.

I would definitely say I have gained a support group from the people at my school, which I think is proof of the great things that can come out of a faith-oriented education.


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