Seventy-four Catholic schools and parish catechetical programs throughout the Diocese of Cleveland received disbursements of more than $1.1 million from the Catholic Community Foundation during an event on Feb. 6 at the Academy of St. Adalbert in Berea.
“Better Together,” a new initiative to educate exceptional learners at an initial cohort of 40 Catholic schools in the diocese, also was unveiled.
The school disbursements were announced by Susan Pohly, assistant superintendent for the Eastern Area schools; Jennifer Berardinelli, assistant superintendent for the Western Area schools; John Stipek, assistant superintendent for the Southern Area schools; and Eugene Boyer, associate superintendent for secondary schools. Patricia Patterson, director of catechesis and professional development, announced parishes that received checks.
The distribution is thanks to the generosity of all parishes in the diocese – pastors, parochial vicars, volunteers and parishioners – through the Rooted in Faith – Forward in Hope fundraising campaign, which has distributed $110 million in support of campaign case components that benefit diocesan and parish ministries in the diocese.
Chris Knight, director of the Secretariat for Catechetical Formation and Education/superintendent, said spiritual growth is just as important as academic growth in the Catholic schools. “We want to make sure students are able to have the full benefit of a Catholic education.”
Funds awarded on Feb. 6 will be used to enhance STEM programs, technology, robotics, engineering, curriculum development, entrepreneurship, early childhood education, visual and performing arts and capital improvements like new windows and doors and enhanced lighting and security. Parish awards will be used for sacramental preparation and theology programs.
Knight said the check presentation took place at the Academy of St. Adalbert because it is a school that embraced inclusion, which is the foundation for the new Better Together initiative. Susan Herman, St. Adalbert principal discussed the steps her school has taken to embrace and include all types of students. She said there are students with autism and other learning disabilities at St. Adalbert and the school works with support programs to provide the staff needed to help these children succeed.
“Eighty percent of our students are general education students,” she said. “We don’t want you to be able to pick out the ones with special needs. They’re all just kids who love and care about each other,” she said. Herman said parents appreciate the fact that all of their children, even those who might have special needs, can attend school together at St. Adalbert. “It’s important to families,” she said. “It’s all about the students feeling welcome and respected and adults in the community – parents and staff – providing and modeling that acceptance.”
She introduced Amy Breudigam, St. Adalbert secretary, who had four children at the school, including two with special needs. Breudigam talked about how difficult it was for her oldest child after he was diagnosed with a learning disorder and a speech disability. She said her children began attending St. Adalbert’s in 2011, and she noticed an immediate difference.
“He formed friendships and those students are still his best friends. Our kids thrived here,” she said, adding the school creates a family atmosphere for students.
Patrick Grace, executive director of the Catholic Community Foundation, said funds from the Alleluia Ball, scheduled for Oct. 14 at the Global Center for Health Innovation/Cleveland Convention Center, will be used to support the new Better Together initiative. The ball has raised more than $6 million since 2000 to support Catholic schools and the families who seek a Catholic education for their children. More than 800 people are expected to attend the event, which will be chaired by Jay and Lanee Lucarelli.
For more information on the Alleluia Ball, contact Bob Hickey, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 2160696-6525, Ext. 3310.
For more information on the Better Together initiative, contact Jennifer Berardinelli at email@example.com, or call 216069606525, Ext. 1290.