Nov. 4-10, 2004
Devoted to the Mission
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School Named Among Top 50 Catholic High Schools in America
The Catholic High School Honor Roll announced the selection of Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School as one of the top 50 Catholic high schools in America. The Catholic High School Honor Roll is an independent project of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty, an international research and educational organization based in Grand Rapids, Mich. The honor roll was produced in consultation with a national advisory board comprised of Catholic college presidents and noted Catholic scholars. Holy Cross Academy in Oneida was also named one of the best 50 Catholic high schools in the U.S., based on its demonstrated commitment to academic excellence, Catholic identity, and civic education.
Advisory board member Gerard Bradley, law professor at University of Notre Dame, said the Honor Roll will serve as a benchmark for all who are seeking an education informed by faith. “It draws attention to schools that are contributing in extraordinary ways to the moral and intellectual formation of young people,” he said.
The primary goal of the Honor Roll is to encourage schools to educate their students as effectively as possible, in a way that integrates Catholic faith and prepares students for active engagement with the world Dennis Meehan is the principal of Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School. The campus spans 23 acres and has an enrollment of 815 students. Meehan applied for the honor last spring after the Catholic High School Honor Roll sent him an application which included three categories important to overall excellence: academics, Catholic identity, and civic education.
“Strength in each of the three areas was key to placing on the Honor Roll, according to the project’s director,” said Dr. Kevin Schmiesing. “There are Jesuit, Dominican, diocesan, and independent schools on this list,” he said. “It reflects the diversity of Catholicism in the U.S. What is common to all of the schools is outstanding commitment to the educational mission of the church.” Meehan discovered that the school had been selected for the honor when he logged on to the Catholic High School Honor Roll web site. He was very pleased about the selection. “It was very special. It validates the effort of our students, parents and teachers that they put forth to carry out the mission of the school,” said Meehan.
Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School excels in the areas of academics, Catholic identity and civic education. The well-rounded academic program is successful because special attention is paid to all students to help them fulfill their potential and to succeed. The school has undergone extensive renovations in the past couple of years, adding a science/technology room and a new art wing. The new art wing has been named the “Center for Artful Expression.” The new wing provides more room for the school’s art, drama, vocal music and instrumental music programs. As a measure of the school’s success, 90 percent of the school’s graduates received Regents diplomas in 2003 and 91 percent received Regents diplomas in 2004. Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School is also strongly committed to Catholic identity. “Our mission is to teach the Gospel message of Christ. We recognize that all knowledge comes to us through Him. There are many gifts and wonders that He has provided to us. To develop the intellect and morals of our young people, we try to have them understand the values,” said Meehan.
The school has a strong commitment to civic education. “Service is part of our mission as a Catholic secondary school,” said Meehan. Within the religious studies curriculum there is a service hour component at each grade level that must be validated. The lower grades have a smaller number of required service hours than the higher grades. Bishop Ludden exceeds 26,000 hours annually. The students’ service hours are fulfilled in parishes, hospitals, senior citizen centers, St. Camillus Health and Rehabilitation Center and the Oxford Inn.
Meehan said, “The importance of service is twofold: it helps them to understand the message of Christ in serving others and it helps them to realize their gifts and talents as they reach out to others who are less fortunate.” The desire to serve is something that the school is trying to expand on. For example, the boy’s soccer team participated in this year’s Crop Walk and in the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Walk. “That is very special. It models what we teach in our curriculum,” remarked Meehan.