Note: I can only attest to the great education students achieve by attending Catholic schools. I didn’t have this opportunity as a child, but every day I see the truth and beauty of forming young lives. I thought it would be fitting to share with you a perspective from a student who did attend Catholic schools. My daughters both attended Catholic school through grade eight, and this article comes to you from my eldest, who just completed college. — Peggy Frederickson
In college, I taught religious education to tenth-graders. It was evident most believed they had better ways to spend their Sundays than with me. In an attempt to win their trust, after one of the sessions I allotted time for questions about anything. The question that surprised me most was, “Why are you here? Don’t you have better things to do?”
The bluntness of the question initially surprised me, but I realized how raw and honest it was. I can fully attest that my answer to that question and who I am today would not be the same if I did not attend Catholic schools.
Catholic education created space for crucial questions in my pursuit of what is good, true, and beautiful beginning at a young age. Passionate priests, teachers, and faculty members shared the goal of introducing me to a life with Christ. They worked to emulate Christian values in the classroom and offered unique insights to the purpose behind their actions.
The environment allowed for discussion relating to values Jesus taught us through Scripture and tradition, and we were centered on living out these values and truths. It provided space to attend Mass weekly and begin to develop a foundation of faith.
As we got older, the environment allowed for questioning upon that foundation. I remember drilling my seventh-grade religion teacher with a variety of questions that he patiently would answer. Without this opportunity to ask questions, my faith would not be in the place it is.
After middle school, I attended East High School in Duluth. I was surprised by multiple teachers speaking of noticeable differences between students from Catholic schools versus public ones. They often noticed the respect and kindness of these Catholic school students in addition to an increased work ethic.
Catholic education also taught the importance of community. Both students and staff of St. John’s and Holy Rosary continue to hold an important place in my heart. We share something unique because of our backgrounds, and I attribute it to being centered on Christ and his values. We were challenged to think, connect with, and trust each other in a unique way.
My classmates may not all be in the same place in their pursuit of truth, but I do know that they all would still be there for me in any way I needed. We developed a deeper community steeped in Catholic values.
I attribute who I am today to the experiences of my past. I was fortunate enough to learn about values, the Catholic faith, and what it means to be in community with others at a young age. My response to the 10th grader’s question, simply put, was, “because it’s important.”
Though this is a short version of why I believe Catholic schooling is so crucial, I challenge you to consider it for your own children one day. If you believe that this faith is the truth, why would you not want to give your children the best opportunity to know and understand it as such?
Kali Frederickson is an alumnus of St. John and Holy Rosary schools in Duluth and the daughter of Peggy Frederickson, principal of Holy Rosary Campus, Stella Maris Academy, Duluth.