Catholic schools date back to the 19th Century in the United States and it is no secret that many of the finest centers of education have Catholic roots. Here in the State of Idaho, 15 Catholic grade schools and 1 Catholic high school are operating and this week, along with the rest of the nation, they are being celebrated.

Since the early 1970's, National Catholic Schools Week has been an annual celebration of the work and community of these schools and this week just happens to be the 2020 celebration. Carrying the theme: "Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed", I'm a proud product of the Catholic School system and can gladly attest to the accuracy of that theme for the Catholic schools, their work, and the young men and women produced in their hallways, right here in the Treasure Valley.

Believe it or not, the entirety of my education has fallen under the Catholic umbrella. Growing up, my parents sent me to St. Paul's Catholic School in Nampa. I attended St. Paul's from preschool through 8th grade and aside from being given an amazing education that truly laid a foundation for my future and my own being--was and remains to this day an example of an unconditionally loving community that feels like "home". The same could be said for my four years at Bishop Kelly High School here in Boise-- a school that helped develop me into a young adult. Both of these institutions prepared me for my ultimate goal--reaching acceptance and attendance at Gonzaga University, one of the highest regarded universities in the West, founded and ran on Jesuit, Catholic principles. The quality of education that the Catholic School system gave to me over the years will always make me feel grateful and push me to be a life long learner.

Bishop Kelly Spanish Program's Trip Abroad to Spain, Credit: Mateo

Often times when people think "Catholic School" they imagine nuns, intensive theology lectures, and "sheltering' from reality. While I did know a few nuns growing up, none of the stereotypes that I've heard over the years have ever really been true. Catholic school, for me, was a place to develop my whole person-- spirit, body, and mind. Catholic school PUSHED me to think differently and challenged conventional thought--it taught me to ask the question "So what?" in everything--the importance of critical thought was never overlooked by my educators. I wouldn't trade my years being around such an intensive and thought provoking education for anything. Catholic School taught me to be a person for others--that even when we're done with our time in school that it's our DUTY to set the world on fire.

Bishop Kelly's annual food drive, Credit: Mateo

While over 2,400 students alongside faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni like myself celebrate Catholic Schools Week here in the Treasure Valley, I wanted to take the chance to invite you to check out one of these awesome schools for yourself or your kids! I can testify first hand that the education offered is invaluable and it's simply an investment that will never stop reaping rewards. I never would have been able to attend any of these schools without financial assistance and the great news is that ALL schools here in the Treasure Valley (along with Catholic colleges and universities nationwide) are some of the most generous when it comes to making the education financially attainable.

Learn more about the schools here in the Treasure Valley, HERE.

Check out an awesome Op-Ed by Sarah Quilici (Superintendent of Catholic Schools) on what our local schools have to offer, HERE.

Happy National Catholic Schools Week, Treasure Valley!