6 Benefits of Attending a Catholic High School

6 Benefits of Attending a Catholic High School

Why I'm Thankful Every Day For My High School Experience
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I attended Catholic schools from pre-school to 12th grade. When it came time to decide on a college, I decided to follow a new path and opt for a large, public university. I love my life at Pitt and have no doubt that I made the right decision, but I often take note of how much my years at Catholic school meant to me. The skills and experiences I accumulated, particularly in high school, were mostly a product of the Catholic school environment. Here is a list of some of the benefits of a Catholic high school, from the perspective of an alumnus who is grateful they got to attend one.

1. Small Classes

"Small class sizes" is like the unofficial slogan of Catholic education everywhere, and I hate to start with something that has almost become a cliche. But the fact is, having a small class made a world of difference at the high school level. For four years, there was no such thing as not knowing anyone in a class. You were bound to spot a friend or two (or 10) no matter what subject you were in. The group chat of your best friends doubled as the group chat for homework help. Sometimes, classes would be so small that hand-raising went out the window; instead, the teacher and students could just have a casual conversation about the new material. Did it make classes more fun? Obviously. Did it enhance what I learned? Undoubtedly.

2. Uniforms

"Uniforms? Are you serious? Those were the absolute worst." Hear me out, generic skeptical reader of this article. Although lacking the freedom of self-expression through attire is usually high on people's "cons" list, I argue that it made life a heck of a lot easier. Rolling out of bed and throwing on the same clothes as the day before (or at least an identical copy) was the height of efficiency and convenience. The toughest decision of the morning routine was choosing between the white polo shirt or the colored polo shirt. Nobody cared what you were wearing because they were wearing it, too. Plus, it turned dress-down days into a form of currency between the students and faculty. "Oh, you want us to donate to the school? *Untucks shirt* That's gonna cost you...."

3. Writing Skills

This one is more anecdotal, but it's been my experience that those who come out of Catholic school know how to write - sometimes in cursive! Many Catholic high schools, mine included, are designed to prepare their students for college life. One thing that defines college academics is writing oh-so-many papers. By the time my friends and I graduated high school, we had been trained in the art of research paper ad nauseum. MLA format was like a second language that could only be read in Times New Roman, 12 pt font, double-spaced. It was painstaking at the time, but one year into university life, I can say that the ability to write a quality paper - with haste - is vital.

4. Talking About Faith

This is one of the most contested, if not controversial aspects of Catholic schools. I'll go on record as saying that I'm proud to have attended a school where prayer and open discussion about religion were encouraged. The most irritating misconception about Catholic schools is that somehow kids are "brainwashed" into thinking a certain way. This if just plain false. Obviously, most of the students at a Catholic school are going to be practicing Catholics. But at mine, there were also members of other Christian denominations, agnostics, atheists, and so on. People of all backgrounds were welcome, and in religion classes, all opinions were heard. At the end of the day, everybody had the freedom to talk about their faith in God, as well as their questions and doubts. Those who felt drawn to Catholicism had the ability to intertwine their religion and their education into one cohesive experience, something that isn't possible in public schools.

5. Community & Service

The community of a Catholic school is unlike any other I've experienced, and it wasn't just because of the small student population. Most of us had similar values, had the same teachers, went to the same classes, played the same sports, were in the same clubs, and so on. We were in it together - and likewise, we were there to help one another. One of the pillars of Catholic education is the value of service. Every student had to log hours helping enrich their community somehow, from helping at the local Catholic elementary schools to working as a group at food banks. Working in groups, the volunteer hours helped build a sense of pride in our school and in our faith, and the work was definitely worthwhile.

6. It Was Just Fun

For four years, I got to spend every day with people I plan on staying friends with for life. I watched them succeed in their sports and extracurriculars just as they supported me in mine. For four years, we all experienced the dress down days, the fundraisers that got us out of class, the schoolwide inside jokes, and the dances where we left room for the Holy Spirit for about 10 sin-free minutes. We became established in a community that prepped us for the next stages of life, all while creating lasting memories. For these reasons, I am constantly grateful that I attended my Catholic high school, and I hope that my fellow Catholic school grads feel the same way.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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A Letter To The Hospital Blessing

A thank you to people who make gloomy hospital stays better.

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Hospitals have good intentions, housing various patients until their ails disappear or they can be allocated to another care facility. Yet, being sick and away from home can be upsetting and uncomfortable for many people. While hospitals have good intentions, the stays aren't necessarily the greatest experiences on earth. Things such as flowers, cards, and visits from loved ones can ease the pains of a hospital stay.

My aunt is currently sick in the hospital. My family and I visited her, we brought her flowers and a card. Both of the gifts brought her great joy in this difficult time of her life. Furthermore, while we were visiting her, there was this band in the hospital. The band itself was compromised of a guitarist, a keyboardist, and three singers. They would migrate from hospital-room to room playing sweet melodies to the patients. When they played for her, I saw how much she loved it. It was a sweet surprise in the haze of treatments.

The band that played for her was a group of volunteer medical students. They said they tried to play music for the patients about once a month. I don't know their names but they helped make my aunt's hospital stay a little brighter and for that I'm grateful. They make a difference in so many patients lives by bringing them the gift of music and allowing it to create a beacon of light in an otherwise dark time in their lives.

Thank you to anyone who has ever volunteered at a hospital. Thank you to the nurses and doctors within the medical system. Thank you to the band who brightened my aunt's day. You make the world a better place despite all of the darkness sickness brings us.

You are very much appreciated.

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