Invitation for the Future

April 6-12, 2006
Invitation for the Future
By Cathedral School staff
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Cathedral Academy Prepares for the Future at the New Catholic Academy

Jan. 25, 2006, the Catholic School Office of the Syracuse Diocese announced that Cathedral Academy and Our Lady of Pompei will form the new International Academy beginning in September 2006. Three other new academies will be opened at Most Holy Rosary, Holy Family, and St. Charles Borromeo. This decision was made after several months of discussion and reflection from representatives of the schools of the South/Southwest corridor. At the same time Cathedral and Our Lady of Pompei representatives worked on a parallel process to create a more efficient Catholic school system offering all students and parents a stable, academically excellent, Christ-centered environment.

From the beginning the representatives agreed that these schools needed a new vision and a plan that would guarantee a Catholic education from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 for all children. This new plan was designed to create a more self-sufficient and stable environment. Many factors such as enrollment, building facilities, expansion capabilities and financial information helped to determine the best sites for the four Bishop’s Academies.

This consolidation will end 91 years of Catholic education in downtown Syracuse. The Guardian Angel Society and Cathedral chose the alternative of a new location rather than closing the school entirely. Support to provide a quality Catholic school education to disadvantaged youth in the Syracuse area will continue. Although the name and location have changed, what’s really important to the children has not.

The Past
In 1915, Cathedral Academy opened with approximately 183 students in grades one through six. Each year afterwards one class was added from grade seven to 12. In 1923 the first graduating class consisted of 16 girls and one boy. The Daughters of Charity served as members of the facility. The students were Roman Catholic, Caucasians and many lived outside the city limits.

Cathedral Today
Currently, 92 students attend Cathedral Academy in grades K through six with 98 percent African Americans, one percent Caucasian and one percent Hispanic. Fewer than 20 percent are Roman Catholic and only a few attend regular services at Cathedral parish. The entire faculty consists of lay teachers. The poverty level is close to 80 percent based on eligibility for free and reduced lunch. A few students from North Syracuse, Liverpool, Jamesville, DeWitt and Nedrow attend Cathedral Academy. However, the majority of students are from the inner city and most receive assistance from the Guardian Angel Society that was founded by Father Joseph Champlin. During the school year there are five major fundraisers that the Guardian Angel Society sponsors to help pay for student tuition. Currently, Wegmans sells the CD of Cathedral music and the proceeds benefit Father Champlin’s Guardian Angel Society and the school.

Even with this change in student demographics, the mission of the school continues to be to provide a quality Catholic education to all children regardless of culture, religion and economic background. Students develop a respect and understanding for each other. The children are happy and eagerly share their enthusiasm with faculty and staff. Parents continue to support school programs and activities. They are very interested in assisting the transition to the new academy. Emphasis on helping others

The spirit of sharing and helping others remains as strong today as in the past. For example, Sept. 30 Cathedral Academy held a “Hat Day” to raise funds for children in the Diocese of Shreveport, La. who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. In October, the school held a raffle to raise money for the NCEA Catholic Campaign to Aid Education Child to Child. A total of $60 was donated to assist schools in Louisiana with their religious education programs. In February, Ronald McDonald visited the school to talk about Character Education and the qualities of honesty, trustworthiness and responsibility. Also, Oct. 21 Cathedral students visited Holy Family School for Diversity Day. Students made many friends and learned about customs and cultures as they prayed, played, sang and participated in class activities. Students realized that although they are different in some respects, they have many similarities.

Reaching out to the community is also an important mission of the school. Every Wednesday students from grade six walk to the parish center to help serve breakfast to homeless men. It is a lesson in humility the students take very seriously. They know that, for whatever reason, the homeless men are there and need assistance. The homeless men always look forward to meeting the students and are often telling the students to “stay in school.”

In September 2005 several students represented Cathedral School at Father Champlin’s Guardian Angel Luncheon fund raiser at University Sheraton Hotel. The children served as greeters, prayer leaders and in general charmed the guests, as well as the main speaker — coach Greg Robinson of Syracuse University’s football team.
During the month of March the students participated in the “Pennies for Patients” program to help children with cancer.

The Future
Many of the 35 volunteers who work in downtown Syracuse continue to serve as mentor/tutors and have pledged their support at the new academy. OASIS (Intergenerational Tutoring) services began in January and will continue in the classroom with teachers K-3 assisting in language arts. Syracuse University Literacy Corps students will continue to work in the classroom with teachers K-6 and serve as teacher assistants and to provide one-on-one instruction. All these volunteers help children maintain and improve their skills and keep a positive attitude.

Although the recent announcement of school changes has created apprehension and concern, there are many positive programs that will be initiated with the assistance of Le Moyne College. New times, new thinking As Cathedral Academy makes the transition from a parish to a diocesan school there are many benefits for our children and faculty. For example, Le Moyne College will partner with the new international school to assist with teacher in-service training, enhanced programs for advanced students, and instruction in science and language. Le Moyne will also provide a nurse two days a week as part of its graduate school program to supplement the two-hour, daily nurse from Syracuse City Schools. Le Moyne will also conduct special summer programs to help students maintain and expand skills with technology and other areas. In the area of athletics, the updated gym will allow for expanded sports in grades three through six and intramurals in grades K through two. There will also be opportunities for performing arts, band and choral participation.

To help students with the transition, grades four, five and six of both schools attended the Civic Center to see the opera “HMS Pentafore” on March 13. The students had lunch together and socialized to get to know each other. In addition, a retreat is scheduled for the faculties of both schools with Father Champlin as the main speaker.

On April 7 students from the four academies will meet for a day of fun, music and food. Plans are also being made to visit the new site for more opportunities for students to interact.

At Cathedral Academy the daily Prayer of St. Francis reminds students:
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

The past has been instructive and now the future offers the opportunity to continue the mission of ministering to the children. Registration for the 2006-2007 school year began Feb. 27. Parents are invited to call Cathedral School or Our Lady of Pompei about any concerns related to the registration process.

Thanks to the dedication and concern of the community, volunteers, teachers, parents and administrators, there is an opportunity to create and design an enhanced learning environment for children.

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