Getting enthusiastic about Catholic education


By Anne Marie Amacher

Fifth-graders Danny Molony and Charlotte Young read silently after completing the opening activity in Jan Rudolph’s classroom at Regina Elementary in Iowa City.

Lee Morrison, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Davenport, said the mission this academic year is “to get people wildly enthusiastic about Catholic education.
“We’re all about enthusiasm for our faith,” he said. “We must share our experiences in our Catholic schools with our communities about the solid education, a sense of belonging and a sense of service.”
Strategic planning for the future of Catholic schools in the diocese gets underway this fall. “I hope this can ignite passion for Catholic education that can be shared with the whole diocese,” Morrison said.
In the spirit of sharing, The Catholic Messenger asked diocesan schools to provide some highlights about enrollment, grants, projects and programs at the start of the new academic year. (Morrison noted that most diocesan schools this year are using Go Math to better align with state curriculum.)

Lourdes Catholic School reported enrollment of 347 students on Aug. 14 was down about six students.
A Scott County Regional Authority grant will allow the school to re-carpet the library and re-tile preschool classrooms.

• Notre Dame Ele­mentary School welcomed 178 students in grades K-5 on Aug. 19, a loss of six students from last year.
One goal this year is to examine how to serve gifted and talented students, said new Principal Jennifer Alongi. “We are researching many strategies.” Another goal is to have all staff trained in Data Driven Decision Making by the end of this school year.
A new tuition assistance opportunity is available this year. The Garrett Brockway Foundation is willing to provide a percentage of tuition assistance to one new student per year. “We are hopeful that we can bring new families to Notre Dame.”
A weekly, 40-minute grade-level data team meeting is being implemented. During this time, teachers will meet in grade-level groups to plan instruction, examine data, and research effective strategies.
• Notre Dame Middle /High School reports enrollment of 220 students, an increase of 24 students over the past school year. New to the school are college-credit courses in World Civilization I and II. Renovations to the library were made over the summer.
Prince of Peace Catholic School has gained seven students over last year, with enrollment of 217 students in K-8 as of Aug. 15.
During the past year, Prince of Peace received grants from Clinton County Development for $5,000, Walmart for $1,000, Community Foundation of the Great Riverbend for $1,962.19, Pearson Foundation for $5,000 and Iowa American Water for $1,308. With additional contributions from school families, alumni and local businesses, more than $20,000 has been raised to upgrade technology — specifically computers — for the school. In addition, more than 50 free computers were donated by the REACT Center in Hiawatha. Prince of Peace plans to raise funds to install a wireless Internet system. A high school environmental science Advance Placement class has been added this year.



Anna Nagle and Joe Deckert work on assignments at school. John F. Kennedy Catholic School in Davenport has spent nearly $80,000 in technology upgrades since May. Much of that money received came from grants.

• All Saints Catholic School began the year Aug. 12 with 404 students, an increase in enrollment of 25 students, not including 60 preschoolers and 43 kindergarteners who also are new to the school.
Scott County Regional Authority provided a grant for implementation of a safety program called ALICE. The school now has cameras in both hallways — front and back — one on the playground and has installed new classroom door locks.
Middle school teachers led a middle school parent meeting to help families transition from elementary to middle school.
Principal Jeanne VonFeldt said a night is being planned for all new families to meet with the school board president, principal and various teachers. “We want families to feel welcome and to answer any questions that they might have.”
• Assumption High School reports enrollment is up by 30 students for a total of 483 students. Several new college-preparatory classes — Spanish, math and humanities — are being offered this year. The Villa Maria Childcare on the campus is being remodeled.
• John F. Kennedy Catholic School reports enrollment of 371 students in K-8, down 15 students from last year. Preschool and daycare numbers have increased, with 92 students in the 3- to 5-year-old preschool programs and 23 to 25 children in daycare.
JFK was selected by the Iowa Department of Education to be a Phase I school in Response to Intervention (RTI). It uses the newest state data system and online assessments for monitoring and diagnostic purposes.  Principal Chad Steimle said JFK staff will also receive several days of training in the fall and ongoing coaching. RTI is a decision-making framework for using research-based practices in instruction and assessment that addresses the needs of all students. The universal screening and monitoring assessments will be utilized by students in preschool through sixth grade. JFK was selected for Phase I as a result of statewide staff surveys, available personnel and technology infrastructure, the staff’s ability and willingness to work with data and its attitude and work ethic in striving to help all students succeed. JFK is one of only 90 schools statewide to be selected and the only private school in Area Education Agency 9.
A Scott County Regional Authority grant of $31,800 helped JFK purchase 50 laptop computers. The school also replaced 15 older laptops and a server, increased the wireless bandwidth by 25 percent, purchased two more wireless access points, added a document camera for each grade level, and acquired special input devices so handwritten responses to online assessments can be recorded.
With state preschool funds, the school was able to add two classroom sets of iPads (for a total of 40) that students will use for pre-literacy activities.
From May to August, JFK has spent about $80,000 for technology, Steimle said.
• Disciples of Christ is this year’s theme at St. Paul the Apostle, which reports 508 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. “We have a waiting list for grades 4-8, but our lower grades are down this year, especially kindergarten,” said Principal Julie Delaney.
A Bechtel Trust grant helped with the purchase of math text books and a HavLife grant helped with purchase of band instruments. The HavLife grant provides band instruments at the 5-8 grade level for Davenport and Bettendorf Catholic schools.
St. Paul has begun a school wide RTI (Response to Intervention) program that includes assessing every child three times a year in reading to ensure that the child shows growth.  A math assessment also begins for grades K-5 in conjunction with the new math series. The RTI program has three tiers of intervention designed to provide each child with the support needed to be a successful learner.
Main-floor restrooms received a facelift over the summer.

St. Joseph Catholic School’s enrollment is steady with 196 students in K-8 on Aug. 15. Grants were received from Lawlor Family Trust and DeWitt Arts Council for art tables and chairs, True Value Hardware Store for 35 gallons of paint, Bi-State Literacy Council for middle school reference books, and from Community Foundation of the Great River Bend and Van Meter Industrial Foundation for supplies and educational aids for children.
The preschool has moved from a separate location to the school. With funding from the Knights of Columbus, two parishioners made improvements to the playground in anticipation of pre-kindergarten students moving into the school.
New songbooks were purchased to be used at all school Masses. A new boiler was installed with funds from a parish capital campaign, which also provided for a new phone system. Future projects to be paid for by the campaign include new carpeting in the library, computer lab and music/youth room, new linoleum in the lunchroom and a new gym roof. An additional security camera has been installed along with a doorbell by the gym door.

Fort Madison/West Point
Holy Trinity Catholic Schools have 301 students in K-12, an increase of three students over the same period last year. School started Aug. 21.
A grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority paid for new lighting in the elementary and junior/senior high gyms. The grant of more than $10,780 covered half of the project’s total cost. Rebates from Alliant Energy paid for two-thirds of the remaining amount, leaving the school with about $3,000 to cover. The science department received two grants from the Governor’s Iowa STEM Initiative that will provide for classroom lab supplies and resources pertaining to wind and solar energy. Grants also provided teacher training. The elementary received grants from the CATCH program, which included four bicycle racks and physical education equipment worth up to $3,000.
Holy Trinity distributed iPads for all faculty and students at the junior/senior high. Last year, iPads were introduced at the elementary level.
New curriculum for anatomy and physiology and 7-12 social studies begins this academic year.  The guidance counselor is working with parents to finalize an anti-bullying program for K-12. Teachers attended workshops this past summer on RTI (Response to Intervention).
Projects over the summer included a new parking lot, sidewalks, entryway, outdoor lighting and new gym roof for the junior/senior high. Window air conditioners were installed in the upper elementary building with plans to install units in the lower elementary building soon. Central air and new heating units were installed at the Fort Madison Early Childhood Center. Holy Trinity Catholic Schools are in the midst of a $5 million capital campaign, which organizers say has been successful so far.

Iowa City
• Regina Elementary reported 435 students enrolled in grades K-6 on Aug. 19. “We enrolled 26 new students for this year. And we are up 10 students from last year,” said Principal Celeste Vincent. There are an additional 93 students in the Early Learning Center.
A grant from “The Carolina Biological Curriculum STEM Program” through the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council has been awarded. This applies to grades K-6 and includes 13 science units with supplies and professional development. A new reading series for grades K-6 is being implemented.
• Regina Junior/Senior High reports enrollment of 380 students, down 13 students from last year.
New offerings this year included web design dual-credit class, digital drawing dual-credit class, new textbooks in AP biology, seventh- and eighth-grade English, economics, geometry, algebra II, and junior and senior theology, and integrating of Cyber Anatomy software.
The media center has been painted and has new carpeting, new furniture and refinished tables.
Regina begins a new activities conference — River Valley Conference — comprised of 13 teams (Bellevue, Camanche, Cascade, Durant, Mid-Prairie, Monticello, North Cedar, North East, Regina, Tipton, West Branch, West Liberty and Wilton).

Seton Catholic School began the school year Aug. 21 with 60 students in grades K–5, the same as last year. Preschool enrollment is up 20 students, as a new class at the church across the street was opened.
In April, Seton received a $20,000 grant to help start the after-school program. So far there are nine students, all from Seton, but it is open to the public. Seton is starting PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports) school-wide this fall. The school received a grant through the local hardware store for 40 gallons of paint to paint classrooms.  A new boiler was installed as well.

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