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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5 Things I Learned While Being A CNA

It's more than just $10 an hour. It is priceless.
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If I asked you to wipe someone's butt for $10 would you do it? If I asked you to give a shower to a blind, mentally confused person for $10 would you do it? If I asked you to simply wear a shirt stained with feces that was not your own for 12+ hours for $10 would you do it?

You probably wouldn't do it. I do it every day. During the course of one hour I change diapers, give showers to those who can no longer bathe themselves, feed mouths that sometimes can no longer speak and show love to some that do not even know I am there all for ten dollars.

I am a certified nursing assistant.

My experiences while working as a CNA have made me realize a few things that I believe every person should consider, especially those that are in the medical field.

1. The World Needs More People To Care

Working as a nursing assistant is not my only source of income. For the past year I have also worked as a waitress. There are nights that I make triple the amount while working as a waitress for 6 hours than I make while taking care of several lives during a 12 hour shift. Don't get me wrong, being a waitress is not a piece of cake. I do, however, find it upsetting that people care more about the quality of their food than the quality of care that human beings are receiving. I think the problem with the world is that we need to care more or more people need to start caring.

2. I Would Do This Job For Free

One of my teachers in high school said "I love my job so much, if I didn't have to pay bills, I would do it for free." I had no clue what this guy was talking about. He would work for free? He would teach drama filled, immature high school students for free? He's crazy.

I thought he was crazy until I became a CNA. Now I can honestly say that this is a job I would do for free. I would do it for free? I'd wipe butts for free? I must be crazy.

There is a very common misconception that I am just a butt-wiper, but I am more than that. I save lives!

Every night I walk into work with a smile on my face at 5:00 PM, and I leave with a grin plastered on my face from ear to ear every morning at 5:30 AM. These people are not just patients, they are my family. I am the last face they see at night and the first one they talk to in the morning.

3. Eat Dessert First

Eat your dessert first. My biggest pet peeve is when I hear another CNA yell at another human being as if they are being scolded. One day I witnessed a co-worker take away a resident's ice cream, because they insisted the resident needed to "get their protein."

Although that may be true, we are here to take care of the patients because they can't do it themselves. Residents do not pay thousands of dollars each month to be treated as if they are pests. Our ninety-year-old patients do not need to be treated as children. Our job is not to boss our patients around.

This might be their last damn meal and you stole their ice cream and forced them to eat a tasteless cafeteria puree.

Since that day I have chosen to eat desserts first when I go out to eat. The next second of my life is not promised. Yes, I would rather consume an entire dessert by myself and be too full to finish my main course, than to eat my pasta and say something along the lines of "No, I'll pass on cheesecake. I'll take the check."

A bowl of ice cream is not going to decrease the length of anyone's life any more than a ham sandwich is going to increase the length of anyone's life. Therefore, I give my patients their dessert first.

4. Life Goes On

This phrase is simply a phrase until life experience gives it a real meaning. If you and your boyfriend break up or you get a bad grade on a test life will still continue. Life goes on.

As a health care professional you make memories and bonds with patients and residents. This summer a resident that I was close to was slowly slipping away. I knew, the nurses knew and the family knew. Just because you know doesn't mean that you're ready. I tried my best to fit in a quick lunch break and even though I rushed to get back, I was too late. The nurse asked me to fulfill my duty to carry on with post-mortem care. My eyes were filled with tears as I gathered my supplies to perform the routine bed bath. I brushed their hair one last time, closed their eye lids and talked to them while cleansing their still lifeless body. Through the entire process I talked and explained what I was doing as I would if my patient were still living.

That night changed my life.

How could they be gone just like that? I tried to collect my thoughts for a moment. I broke down for a second before *ding* my next call. I didn't have a moment to break down, because life goes on.

So, I walked into my next residents room and laughed and joked with them as I normally would. I put on a smile and I probably gave more hugs that night than I normally do.

That night I learned something. Life goes on, no matter how bad you want it to just slow down. Never take anything for granted.

5. My Patients Give My Life Meaning

My residents gave my life a new meaning. I will never forget the day I worked twelve hours and the person that was supposed to come in for me never showed up. I needed coffee, rest, breakfast or preferably all of the above. I recall feeling exasperated and now I regret slightly pondering to myself "Should I really be spending my summer like this?" Something happened that changed my view on life completely. I walked into a resident's room and said "Don't worry it's not Thursday yet", since I had told her on that Tuesday morning that she wouldn't see me until I worked again on Thursday. She laughed and exclaimed "I didn't think so, but I didn't want to say anything," she chuckled and then she smiled at me again before she said, "Well... I am glad you're still here." The look on her face did nothing less than prove her words to be true. That's when I realized that I was right where I needed to be.

Yes, I was exhausted. Yes, I needed caffeine or a sufficient amount of sleep. My job is not just a job. My work is not for a paycheck. My residents mean more to me than any amount of money.

I don't mind doing what I do for $10; because you can't put a price on love. The memories that I have with my patients are priceless.


Cover Image Credit: Mackenzie Rogers

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8 Times Brett Kavanaugh Somehow Expressed Your Campus Parking Frustrations

No matter where you go, it's just about as inconvenient as Brett Kavanaugh's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

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College is tough, and expensive, and parking is no exception to that. However, parking on campus is its own special hell where it feels like there is one parking spot for every 10 people.

No matter how early you get on your favorite parking lot, there's always a showdown for the last spot. Navigating around campus and dodging pedestrians becomes even more of a nuisance on top of how frustrating and inconvenient parking already was. Get it together.

We're not paying $250-$450 to miss class because there wasn't any parking.

1. You drive to campus bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but you're disillusioned once you get on campus

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You were optimistic. You thought, "maybe today won't be as bad as it was yesterday." But you were wrong. Everyone is driving like they have a keycard for the Garage, or maybe they're still sleeping. And the pedestrians are more fearless than ever, crossing the street five feet in front of a crosswalk without looking both ways.

2. You're stuck at a busy intersection trying to make a turn, but pedestrians and cars keep cutting you off

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Flames feel like they're about to emerge from your steering wheel, and you contemplate forcing your way through the intersection, risking hitting one of your fellow classmates or a staff or faculty member. They're not the only ones in a hurry. Instead you mutter under your breath for the lolligaggers to put a little more pep in their step, glaring at them through your windshield.

3. You make it through the seemingly endless intersection.  The lot you want is visible, but you're still far away

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Students walking from breakfast to the student center are recklessly playing "Frogger," and the amount of times you've had to brake on one road is making you question whether or not you'll need to change your brake lights. You come to a stop one last time before a bus pulls in front of you.

4. LOL you are behind the bus you need to catch to get to class

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Maybe it has one or two stops left so you can bypass it and safely speed to the commuter lot. Maybe you'll even have enough time left to find a decent spot, grab your things for the day, and casually stroll to the pickup spot. You try to stay positive, but you had the same reality just a few days before.

5. You bypass the bus, but don't make the light 

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The bus pulls off the road to load more students on. You maneuver around the bus without hesitation...just as the traffic light turns from golden yellow to disheartening red. To make your four mile commute on campus even better, the car in front is taking up two lanes, with its turn signal on. "How have you commuted to class for over a month and still don't know which way to go," you think to yourself as you roll your eyes back far enough to see your brain.

6. HOW IS THERE NO PARKING

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You make it to the lot with the bus just a few cars behind you, and if you can get a spot, you'll have enough time to trot to the bus stop before the it leaves. You circle the lot's exterior, you drive up and down lanes of parked cars. No spot is open. Others are frantically doing the same thing. You let out a flabbergasted grunt. How is there no parking?!

7. Are you really going to skip class because the first lot you chose was full? 

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You circle the lot once more. But you take your time because you're calculating something.

You, or your parents/guardian/FAFSA/etc., spent a fortune on tuition, and you know you really should go to class and engage in your education. But you also don't have any assignments due in class, or exams, and the notes are online. And getting to the garage to pay for parking when you've already handed over your "lifesavings" to go to this school just seems a bit much. You already paid for parking, why should you have to pay again?

8. So...what are you going to do?

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Go home, and drink precisely one beer. And mark it on my calendar.

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