Finding faith and higher academic expectations

Written by Angelica Rivera
Saint Cecilia School, Pennsauken

A couple of years ago, I was a young girl in a non-Catholic school. It was small but it felt like a home. I was achieving good grades and was in an environment I felt I was thriving in. I really thought, “Nothing can get better than this.” I ended up graduating sixth grade with only five other students and we all moved on to Saint Cecilia’s, a Catholic K-8 elementary school.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my new school. One thing I really didn’t expect was that I was behind academically compared to these students. Some of the concepts they mentioned having previously learned I hadn’t even heard of. Thankfully, I was able to catch up to my new classmates quickly and continued to receive good grades.

Suddenly it seemed to make so much sense why everything seemed way too easy for me before. This is the level I should’ve been learning and would’ve been learning had I gone to the school sooner.

I am now in my eighth grade year at Saint Cecilia’s. I was welcomed in this school community, and I have grown academically and spiritually. My next chapter in life will be high school. When accepting students, most high schools have holistic admissions. They look for certain things in prospective students, like grades, test scores, involvement and service. Many of my classmates were involved in extracurriculars but I was not. Thankfully, I was cast in our school’s Christmas play. My old school didn’t have any sort of extracurricular activities. There weren’t any sports teams or clubs and most of us did not realize the kind of negative impact this could have in the future of our academic careers. Catholic school has so many opportunities I had never even dreamed of.

Equally important to these opportunities is the faith component of a Catholic school. I was pleasantly surprised by how deeply rooted in the faith the school is. Saint Cecilia’s is so accepting and willing to teach all students regardless of religious affiliation. I am so thankful that even with my lack of knowledge on the faith, I have been taught so I could understand and follow along well.

In short, now about halfway through my eighth grade year, I know that I am ready for whatever challenges may face me on my journey to high school. Attending a Catholic school has opened so many doors for me that I never even knew existed. I am so grateful that I came to Saint Cecilia’s because if I hadn’t I really don’t know where I would be right now. I feel truly blessed to have received a Catholic education and look forward to continue it at a Catholic high school. Catholic schools provide their students with an exemplary education, amazing opportunities, and a great focus on religious and moral values. Honestly, receiving a Catholic school education truly is the gift of a lifetime.