SPRING HILL — Notre Dame Catholic School students are celebrating Catholic Schools Week with special activities all week. The theme for this year is "A+ for America Catholic Schools."
The biggest event was the Northern Cluster Mass at Bishop McLaughlin High School on Tuesday in Pasco County. The cluster includes Pasco, Hernando and Citrus County Catholic schools: Pope John Paul II, St. Anthony's, Bishop Larkin, Notre Dame, and Bishop McLaughlin. The Mass was celebrated by Vicar General Father Morris and supporting priests.
The children were invited to participate in an essay contest on the theme "Why a Catholic education is important to me." Winners read their essays after Tuesday's Mass.
Eighth-grader Annalee Garcia's essay was selected at Notre Dame Catholic School. The 14-year-old has attended the school since kindergarten.
"I feel that my Catholic education has given me a moral and educational awareness so that when I do get into the public school system next year, I will know right from wrong and who to associate myself with," said Annalee, who plans to attend Lecanto High School in Citrus County.
After the Mass on Tuesday, fifth- though eighth-graders enjoyed lunch and a field day called "CatHOLYmpics," run by the high school students.
At Notre Dame, other activities throughout the week included Monday's Red, White and Blue Day. Students dressed in patriotic colors, wrote thank you cards to troops and held a pep rally.
Wednesday was Silly Sock Day. In classrooms students had a baby-picture guessing contest and, during the afternoon, there was an Adoration and Praise and Worship service.
Today is Student Teacher Day, with eighth-graders getting a feel of what it's like to be a teacher. It is a dress down day for students other than eighth-graders, who were asked to dress up.
The week will wind up Friday with a school Mass, Crazy Hat Day and a family picnic.
Dr. Lou Whitaker, principal of Notre Dame and Pope John Paul II, said Notre Dame is hosting Catholic School Week this year, even though the cluster Mass is being held at Bishop McLaughlin. Her school provided the lunch for the pastors and Office of Schools and Centers (officials of the Diocese of St. Petersburg), chose the readings and songs, and provided the chorus.
During this special recognition week, Whitaker credits and thanks the parishioners who support Catholic schools. It is a time, she said, "Just to stop and say 'thank you' to all the supporters, as well as take note of all our accomplishments."