Business gurus say it is all about the product, its quality, its capacity to make life better for "the consumers" in the long run. With this bold business analogy, let's blog about the "product" of our Catholic Schools as we celebrate this end of the school year.
Over 6,200 young men and women will graduate from Catholic High Schools this year, almost 100% of the seniors; 97% of their freshmen cohort will graduate. Catholic High Schools excel - they can almost universally boast ACT scores superior to their local public schools - and the system average (22.7 composite) beats national and State averages. 95% will attend college. (For more on scores, see schools.archchicago.org/Academics/)
But what about the real value of the "product"? What about character, leadership, service, and faith? Take a look at the high schools' websites to see what they value and celebrate. Discover how they celebrate: in the context of Mass, prayer, retreat, song, and recognition of Christian service. Growing into adulthood is not without pain and the need for forgiveness always remains. But to share in a community's expectation, however imperfect, allows these young people to grow into men and women with Christ - and that is no small thing. It does more than take a village - it takes a Church.
And that Church here in Chicago is committed to the early preparation of these young people in the Sacramental life. Over 4,900 students received First Communion; over 4,700 made their Confirmation. Steps for life in a stable context allows for risk-taking: in one high school with a parish relationship, there were eight baptisms of teenagers. They would not have joined without the adult community standing with them.
Even as creative teachers and principals look to summer camps and engage in marketing, sound fiscal practices, and enhanced effort to drive enrollment for the new school year (cf, FAST plans), these hard-working practitioners know what defines them at their core. The real driver is the love of the precious "product," our young people who are Christ.