Back to school/West: Parochial schools welcome changes

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It's a big year for two Catholic high schools -- Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Moon and Quigley in Baden.

OLSH, which was founded by the Felician sisters in 1932, is celebrating its 80th anniversary.

On Aug. 27, the staff and faculty welcomed 380 students -- the largest student body in the school's history. This year's total enrollment is 6 percent higher than last year. The freshman class is 9 percent larger.

This year's student body has a foreign exchange student from China and transfer students from other schools in grades 10, 11 and 12.

Due to steady enrollment growth in recent years, new faculty positions have been added including a guidance counselor for grades 9 and 10, a physical education teacher and a part-time social studies teacher.

Two veteran teachers have been promoted. Mary Catherine Praskovich is assistant principal and Michael McDonald is director of athletics, health and wellness.

Mr. McDonald has been with the school for 22 years in a variety of capacities, both academic and athletic. He will continue to serve as head coach of the girls and boys volleyball teams. His current role includes teaching health and specialized physical education classes.

In Beaver County, Quigley Catholic, a small, close-knit school, has been recognized as one of the Top 50 Catholic high schools in the country.

The top rankings come from The Cardinal Newman Society, which acknowledges schools that maintain high academic standards, uphold their Catholic identities and prepare their students to actively engage the world.

Other Pennsylvania schools honored were Aquinas Academy in Hampton, Geibel Catholic Junior-Senior High School in Connelsville, Oakland Catholic High School in Oakland, Serra Catholic High School in McKeesport and St. Joseph High School in Harrison.

The 160 Quigley students in grades 9-12 came back to school Aug. 23 to see one immediate change: more than 800 lockers were freshly painted gray and maroon -- school colors. Dozens of parents volunteered over the summer to give the lockers a new look.

Parents have always been involved with the school, but that may increase with the recent formation of a new organization -- QC-Force, said Michael J. Rubino, executive director of institutional advancement.

Other projects taken on by parents at the 28-acre campus include maintenance of the softball and soccer fields and flower beds. They also remodeled the school chapel.

One parent removed all of the light fixtures in the gym, replacing them with energy efficient fixtures that are expected to reduce the electric bill by 50 percent, Mr. Rubino said. "And the gym is brighter.

"We have all kinds of good things happening here," he said, including a 10 percent enrollment increase this year.

Students from Allegheny, Beaver and Butler counties attend the "college prep Catholic High School" with a 99 percent graduation rate, and 99 percent of graduates go on to college.

The school has two new kilns for ceramics and pottery classes. Parents, alumni and friends donated $10,000 to buy the equipment.

For the second year, technology will make sure that injured or ill students will not fall behind in their class work.

When students are out of class, they can utilize an iPad that teachers or students take to each of the student's classes, so they can attend school from their home, Mr. Rubino said.

Computers also insure that there are no snow days at Quigley Catholic. On days when it snows heavily and the roads are bad, students and teachers stay home, but classes are held online.

On Oct. 12, the Golden Ticket Gala at The Club at Shadow Lakes in Aliquippa will be a major fundraiser for the school.

education - neigh_west

Linda Wilson Fuoco: or 412-722-0087.


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