Catholic school students raise money — with their feet
BY TINA AKOURIS firstname.lastname@example.org October 18, 2013 11:37AM
Updated: November 21, 2013 6:40AM
Students at the Cathedral of St. Raymond School in Joliet on Friday were trying to make a difference for Catholic education — and they were using their feet to do it.
They were among children at 26 schools in the Diocese of Joliet who participated in the Catholic Education Foundation’s “Move Your Feet to Give a Child a Seat” event.
At dismissal of the school day, students walked a lap around their schools to raise money and awareness for Catholic education. Catholic high schools did not participate in the walk.
Proceeds will help fund scholarships for students to attend Catholic schools in the diocese.
St. Raymond Principal Jennifer Groves said students as young as second grade understand the walk’s purpose.
“I had two students who I was eating lunch with (Thursday) — they were two little second-graders — and they said, ‘We hope we can raise money so we can have another student in our class,’ ” Groves said. “So they knew right away why, that they were doing it so they could allow other students to be in Catholic school.”
The 520 students at St. Raymond, ranging from preschoolers to eighth-graders, walked around the school and church grounds. A few parents lined the sidewalk in front of the school on Raynor Street to applaud their efforts.
Groves said students had a casual day Thursday and were encouraged to bring in donations for the Move Your Feet effort. Groves said the school raised $1,000.
“We have about 34 students who receive scholarships through the Catholic Education Foundation, which offsets our tuition that makes it more affordable for them to go here,” Groves said.
The biggest problem that schools in the diocese are facing is decreasing enrollment. There are more than 4,000 empty slots to fill at the 47 elementary and high schools in the diocese. That translates into lost money for the diocese.
Also at the St. Raymond walk was Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Siegel, who ranks behind only Bishop Daniel Conlon among bishops in the diocese. Siegel thinks there are so many empty seats in Catholic schools because the economy is still in a flux and many parents can’t afford to send their children to a private school.
“I think a lot of it is economics and it’s a rough time for families,” Siegel said. “And I think it becomes a challenge especially when both parents are working, and sometimes one parent is paying the tuition with their salary.
“The biggest challenge is managing a quality education and making it still economically feasible for families,” Siegel said. “We don’t want to make it an exclusive domain for only the wealthiest to get a Catholic education. We want it to be available to all Catholics.”
Among those walking at St. Michael School in Wheaton were Superintendent of Schools Father John Belmonte, Catholic Education Foundation executive director Joe Langenderfer and foundation board member Eileen Healy.