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
Jon Frye
Jon Frye

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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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.

Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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I Learned Forensic Science In One Day For HOSA SLC 2019 And Still Placed Top Ten

We all have those days where we have to cram for an exam you know nothing about the night before, but have you tried to study for it the day of the exam? I never knew I would find myself in this situation until I went to HOSA SLC. With minimal study time, my partner, Kasey Park, and I were still able to place in the Top Ten in Georgia.

Joel Lee
Joel Lee

As a member of my school's chapter of HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America), I went to SLC (State Leadership Conference), where members all over the state of Georgia come to Atlanta to compete in a variety of competitions in the field of Science and Healthcare. All members can pick only one competition to participate in, and the guidelines and rules for each event are posted on the HOSA website.

The event I chose was Forensic Medicine, which requires a team of two people to take a written exam about Forensic Science (Round 1) and write a death report for a case study (Round 2). You must pass Round 1 to move on to Round 2. I worked with a good friend of mine, Kasey Park, for this event. HOSA recommended two textbooks to study for the event: Forensic Science: Fundamentals & Investigations 2nd Edition and Forensic Science: An Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques, Fourth Edition.

Kasey and I both had the books, since Winter Break of our sophomore year (2018-2019), and we both agreed to start studying during winter break. Instead, we both completely forgot about it and when we returned to school after the break, we knew we still had time to study, since SLC was in March. We made a game plan of what chapters to read and when to read them, and we agreed to meet for reviewing the chapters we read. But, it didn't happen.

This procrastination continued about a day before we needed to leave for SLC, and we both realized we needed to study two thick textbooks in about 24 hours. We both knew at this point we just needed to cram as much information we could possibly fit into our brains.

The way we crammed was we both read the textbook as fast as possible and absorbing information as we go. Even though will not understand everything, we can still get a lot of information that can help us do well.

We studied on the way to SLC and before the Round 1 exam, so we can have the best chance possible when taking the test. My partner and I took the Round 1 exam during the afternoon, and we both we did alright, but not good, so we were worried about whether or not we made the second round. We got a notification in the evening that we made to Round 2. Kasey and I started to study all night and during the morning to cram as much information as we could. A little before noon, we took the Round 2 Case Study Test, and we thought it was a breeze.

Since we finished our event, we could finally hang out with friends from our school, as well as students from other schools. I meant so many new people at HOSA SLC. The next day, we went to the award ceremony, and my partner and I did not get in the Top 5, so we were not recognized. But later we were informed that we got 9th place, which we were happy with since we did not study very much for this exam.

From my experiences ar HOSA SLC, I have learned many things and met many new people. I would recommend that if you have a testing event, you should start to study prior to SLC to give yourself the most amount of time to study before the test. I feel that cramming last minute at SLC is ineffective and very stressful. I also think that you should try to meet new people since the conference is for members all over the state of Georgia.

If you are a middle or high schooler, I would recommend attending HOSA SLC, as it will be a memory you will never forget.

Joel Lee
Joel Lee

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