School report heads to Jefferson City
By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY - The first semester report card is in, and Catholic schools in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are passing with flying colors, according to a high-ranking state lawmaker.
Kevin Kelly/Key photo
State Sen. Harry Wiggins accepts the report card held by St. John Francis Regis School students Russel Canobas and Christie Crossland.
"Tomorrow, we are going to present this to Gov. Carnahan," said Sen. Harry Wiggins, D-Kansas City, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and a lifelong member of St. Elizabeth Parish in Kansas City.
Diocesan school officials made up the oversized report card to present to Wiggins at a Feb. 4 prayer service with students and faculty marking Catholic Education Week at St. John Francis Regis School.
But Wiggins also had a presentation of his own. To the surprise of Diocesan Superintendent of Schools Sister Anne Shepard, who is leaving her job in March for a position with her Benedictine community at Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kan., Wiggins presented her with a framed resolution from the Missouri Senate, thanking her for her years of service to education in the state. The honor moved Sister Shepard to tears.
"Sister Anne Shepard is one of the great educators in the United States," Wiggins told the students at St. Regis. "Since she has been called to carry on her vocation in another aspect of her life, the members of the Missouri Senate felt that on this occasion it would be fitting to honor her."
The report card noted the accumulated accomplishments of the 55 Catholic early childhood centers, elementary schools and high schools within the Diocese, with 1,017 teachers serving 14,093 students.
According to the report card, so far this school year, Diocesan school system has:
But Wiggins, who boasted that he attended nothing but Catholic schools from elementary school through law school, reminded the students that the worth of Catholic education is in the values it teaches.
- Given 81,950 hours of community service.
- Recorded a daily attendance rate of 95 percent.
- Had all sixth graders, on average, score two grade levels above national norms on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.
- Qualified 16 percent of all its seventh graders as Duke University Talent Identification Scholars.
- Had 99 percent of its high school seniors take the ACT college admissions test, scoring an average of two points above national norms.
- Has saved taxpayers, according to the average per-pupil public education in the students home districts, nearly $92 million.
"Catholic education has already touched your life, and you will always be grateful for that," he said.
Paraphrasing Robert Kennedy, Wiggins said people "who have no vision and no hope look at things the way they are and ask, 'Why?'" while people with vision "look at things that never were and ask, 'Why not?'"
"When you ask that question," Wiggins told the students, "God and your Catholic education will say, 'Yes' forever and ever and ever."