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Belle Pastrana, a middle school student at St. Francis of Assisi School, threw a paper airplane as part of an exercise between students from St. Francis of Assisi and Rosati-Kain High School. The exercise is part of a partnership between the middle and high schools and focused on finding creative ways to show the extent of the problem of poverty.
Belle Pastrana, a middle school student at St. Francis of Assisi School, threw a paper airplane as part of an exercise between students from St. Francis of Assisi and Rosati-Kain High School. The exercise is part of a partnership between the middle and high schools and focused on finding creative ways to show the extent of the problem of poverty.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

High school connection helping Oakville school to thrive

Grant develops St. Francis of Assisi program with St. Mary’s, Rosati-Kain

Rosati-Kain High School junior Bridget Hurley took control when she noticed that the grade-school students at her table weren’t progressing on their assignment.

“What are your ideas?” Bridget asked. “Focus in on what you want to do for your project, then decide how you want to present it. We have to show what the problem is and how it affects people. We can brainstorm ways of doing that.”

The students suggested creative ways to showcase their project, which involved ways to get the community to understand and respond to poverty.

Rosati-Kain High School student Bridget Hurley helped Lexie Krastanoff and Madelyn Williams, both students at St. Francis of Assisi School, with finding creative ways to address poverty. St. Francis Assisi School received a Beyond Sunday grant from the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri for the Catholic Connections program.
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
St. Francis of Assisi School in Oakville last year was awarded a $72,900 two-year Beyond Sunday grant from the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri to develop and implement a middle school program called Catholic Connections. St. Francis and its partners, St. Mary’s High School and Rosati-Kain, are creating and implementing the project-based, interdisciplinary program. Mentors at the high school, parish and community levels will help the students offer solutions to real-world problems and to connect their faith to the world.

Catholic Connections is designed to increase enrollment and retention at St. Francis of Assisi and to develop interest in St. Mary’s and Rosati-Kain among families with middle-schoolers.

Beth Bartolotta, principal of St. Francis, said Catholic Connections links middle school students with high school students, community members and parishioners through a Catholic lens. St. Francis is connecting with the high schools on a Catholic social justice topic, “a mini-pilot to be fully implemented next year,” Bartolotta said.

It was good to help the middle-school girls come up with new, creative ways to show their project to others, Bridget said. The students want to make an impact on their community through the social issues they chose, she added.

Bridget’s aim was to give the students confidence. She’ll continue to check in with the students to assess their progress. They have a showcase on May 15, then will develop it further next school year.

Bridget and the other mentors are Rosati-Kain ambassadors who help promote the school and lead events. She took a social justice class at Rosati-Kain, “so I was really excited and interested in helping the girls with their projects,” she said.

She made a few suggestions to the girls “to get them to think outside the box on how to present their projects, but I wanted to make sure that what they chose to do was something they felt interested in, that they felt passionate about and what they thought would work best for their school community,” Bridget said.

Isabella Snyder, a sixth-grader at St. Francis, said her group is creating a comic strip using their skills in writing and drawing. It was fun to work with a mentor, who brought out their talents, Isabella said.

Katie Jones, also a sixth-grader, said though she’s had an awareness of poverty, the project goes in depth about “what poverty truly is how many people actually experience it.”

Her mentor advised them to rely on their strengths and do something special. It made a difference, Katie said. The high school students “know how to explain it in a way you’re going to understand it,” she said.

The approach made the students comfortable and provided one-on-one, personalized learning, Katie added.

Ethan Abernathy is being mentored by a student at St. Mary’s High School. “It was easier to communicate,” he said of the connection.

In a slide presentation, “I’m trying to show how many people are living in extreme poverty and what that means,” he said.

He’s also learned about developing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) goals and outcomes.

Bartolotta said St. Francis is developing a “playbook” for Catholic Connections that can be duplicated by other schools in connecting with high schools.


Beyond Sunday grant

More than 40 Catholic schools and PSR programs throughout the Archdiocese of St. Louis received a Beyond Sunday school grant for the 2018-2019 school year.

A $72,900 Beyond Sunday grant from the Roman Catholic Foundation was distributed to St. Francis of Assisi School and Parish School of Religion in early July for their program, Catholic Connections. The grant is just one of 14 Beyond Sunday grants totaling $751,000 that were distributed in July.

Catholic Connections is a mentor program that connects middle and high school students with community members and parishioners through engagement in real-world projects using a Catholic lens. St. Francis of Assisi seeks to raise awareness of the mission of Catholic schools and their value to the community. With expansion plans for other local Catholic schools, Catholic Connections aims to increase enrollment, retention and stakeholder support for Catholic education throughout the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

The Roman Catholic Foundation builds endowed funds that will support Catholic parishes, schools and ministries in the Archdiocese of St. Louis for generations to come.

Beyond Sunday scholarships provide tuition assistance to middle-income families who wish to send their children to Catholic elementary or high schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. High school Beyond Sunday scholarship recipients, called Beyond Sunday Fellows, not only receive tuition assistance but also become part of a community of Fellows, which meets several times each year for Foundation-sponsored community service projects and shared faith experiences. The foundation has awarded:

• $1.7 million awarded to 1,092 students attending 120 Catholic elementary and high schools for the 2019-2020 school year.

• $7.2 million awarded in total to 1,778 students attending 135 Catholic schools since 2016.

For information, visit www.rcfstl.org, call (314) 918-2890 or email info@rcfstl.org.


>> Grants for 2019-20 school year

The Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri will distribute $518,604 in school grants to 30 schools and Parish School of Religion programs for the 2019-20 academic year. The grants will fund 14 projects — 12 for Academic Capacity Enhancement projects and two for Transformational Innovation efforts. Since 2017, the Roman Catholic Foundation has given $2.3 million in grants.

This year’s recipients include:

• Development of a Standard Based Curriculum for Advanced Learners: Holy Cross Academy Parishes Annunciation, Our Lady of Providence, St. John Paul II, St. Michael the Archangel and Seven Holy Founders $20,000

• Technology for All Students of Christ, Prince of Peace Parish: Christ, Prince of Peace School and PSR $50,000

• Technology Implementation and Integration Phase 2: Archdiocesan Elementary Schools of the Archdiocese of St. Louis — Most Holy Trinity School and Academy, St. Cecilia School and Academy, and St. Louis Catholic Academy $50,000

• Enhancing SFA Student Outcomes with Increased Access to Technology: St. Francis of Assisi School and PSR $25,000

• Middle School Math Lab: St. Peter Catholic School $17,500

• STREAM Lab: Holy Spirit Catholic School $17,000

• Watch Cabrini Grow!: St. Frances Cabrini Academy $13,050

• Innovation Lab (STREAM Lab): St. Clare of Assisi School $30,000

• Our Lady Catholic School Inspiration to Innovation — Learning by Design Center: Our Lady Catholic School $71,373

• Guiding the Spiritual Scientists and Moral Makers of the Future: Immaculate Conception School in Dardenne Prairie $70,000

• Chemistry Lab and Classroom — Update for Collaborative Learning and Improved Safety: Duchesne High School $65,000

• Art Program Expansion: Rosati-Kain High School $38,681

• SPICE (Special People In Catholic Education): St. Peter Catholic School and PSR $1,000

• Embracing the Gift of Cultural, Racial, Religious and Economic Diversity in North County Catholic Schools: Federation of Catholic Schools. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta School, Holy Spirit School, Our Lady of Guadalupe School, Sacred Heart School in Florissant, St. Ann School in Normandy, All Saints Academy-St. Ferdinand Campus, All Saints Academy-St. Norbert Campus, All Saints Academy-St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Campus, Christ Light of Nations School, Trinity Catholic High School $50,000


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