Fostering a Sense of Community During Catholic Schools Week

by Rose Hamilton



Catholic Schools Week, which will be celebrated Jan. 25-31 this year, is a time to celebrate a shared faith, fortify a sense of community, thank those who make a difference, and celebrate accomplishments. It’s a great opportunity for PTOs and PTAs to support the entire school community. Here are some ideas your group may want to try:

Hold parent-group-sponsored events: Host a special event that focuses on families. Do a PTO or PTA breakfast for grandparents, run a reading program with parents as guest readers in classrooms, or hold a fun family night that features a trivia contest or a game-show event like Jeopardy.

Groups also can help classrooms with special projects such as assisting the graduating 8th grade class with creating and burying a time capsule, or working with the youngest students to produce a show-and-tell day that supports messages of faith and family. 

Run a schoolwide special service project: Organize an effort to write valentines to senior citizens in the community or letters of support to soldiers. Another option is to manage a schoolwide canned goods collection for a local food pantry. 

Add a special touch: Many schools hold masses and open houses during Catholic Schools Week and need parents to be on hand to help with children and community members. Offer to organize volunteers who can assist with tours at open houses, create and print out programs, and serve refreshments. Another option: Set up an art gallery (perhaps in hallways) that showcases students’ work.

Pitch in where needed: Many schools also host their big events, like winter carnivals, book fairs, talent shows, or other schoolwide productions, during this week. PTO and PTA members can participate by running activities at the carnivals, manning the cash register at book fairs, and managing acts for the talent show. 

Handle staff appreciation celebrations: This is a parent group’s bread and butter! Often schools will take time during this week to celebrate teachers, pastors, and staff. Offer to host a staff appreciation luncheon. Organize a thank-you letter campaign for students to show their appreciation to the school principal and parish members who make a difference at the school. 

Get in on the fun: Lots of schools do a series of spirit day celebrations for each day of Catholic Schools Week. Your group can offer to coordinate these, and if you’re in need of ideas, consider these: dress-down day (no uniforms), dress as a favorite book character day, crazy hat day, crazy socks day, school colors day, and favorite decade day. 

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