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Immaculate Conception celebrates Catholic Schools Week

Published: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 5:30 a.m. CST
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(Heidi Litchfield – hlitchfield@shawmedia.com)
Immaculate Conception School parent Melissa Olson serves soup for teacher Kristy Kitchell during staff appreciation luncheon on Thursday.
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(Heidi Litchfield – hlitchfield@shawmedia.com)
Immaculate Conception School music teacher Brent Mitchell helps himself to the teacher's appreciation lunch served by parents of ICS students.

MORRIS – Although the weather tried to put a damper on things, Immaculate Conception School this week celebrated Catholic Schools Education Week.

The week is held each year during the last week of January. This year it was Jan. 26 to Feb. 1.

“Catholic Schools Week started in the 1970s,” Principal Kim DesLauriers said. “Before that there was a national education week in the fall and both the public and Catholic schools celebrated, but the Catholic schools wanted to do their own week featuring the religious context.”

He said ICS is about more than just the students who attend, it’s also about the community who support it.

“If you want support you have to show the value of what you are doing,” DesLauriers said. “The purpose isn’t to have fun, but we do have fun.”

The National Catholic Educational Association helps give celebration ideas to Catholic schools around the nation, and said the events are to get schools to focus on the value Catholic education provides to not only students, but also to the churches, communities and nation.

“We want to be part of the larger community, Morris, the United States and the world,” DesLauriers said. “We want them to leave good people.”

Catholic school education week is important to the students at ICS, but this year it was cut short because of the freezing temperatures Monday and Tuesday when the school was closed.

“I really liked the pep rally,” seventh-grader Katie Hemmersbach said. “I liked dressing up for it. “

She also said learning about God all week was important to her faith.

Elaine Virgo, a second generation ICS alum, credits her education at the school for her strong faith, as well.

“No. 1, it gave me a strong faith. It also gave me a strong work ethic and made me a well-rounded person,” Virgo said.

Virgo’s mother, Pat Misener, was the first generation in the family to graduate from ICS. Virgo was the second and her children are now the start of the third generation, with her daughter Sarah recently graduating. Her son, Ben, currently is in sixth grade.

She sent her children to ICS not only for a strong education, but so they could have religion every day.

“The whole importance of Catholic school is evangelism,” Father Ed Howe said. “It’s not just education, but Christian formation.”

On Thursday, the parents served an appreciation lunch for the staff members as part of the week’s activities.

“We have great teachers and they do so much for our kids,” said parent Liz Hovious. “We appreciate everything they do.”

The teachers were treated to hot soup, salad and sandwiches, as well as a dessert table.

In keeping with this year’s theme “Catholic Schools – Communities of Faith, Knowledge, and Service” upper grade students read to lower grade students for a reading buddy session.

“I get to read to the younger classes,” seventh-grader Clare Collard said. “It helps with reading, but I also get to know them better.”

Having the children give back follows the school’s mission.

“The school emphasizes the importance of giving a lifetime of service to others,” DesLauriers said.

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