As we begin the 2017-2018 school year, there is much to applaud. Our 2017 graduates garnered almost $4 million in high school scholarships, and our high school graduates secured over $300 million in college awards. We expect no less of the Class of 2018.
But there's more, much more. On this, the 170th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Buffalo, we open school with eight new principals. While some might cite the fact that we have experienced a turnover of almost 25 percent of our school leaders, I look at the fact that we have eight young, Catholic, certified men and women who want to throw in their lot with us, to lead our schools into a positive future, and to encounter Jesus in our students, teachers and parents. These individuals have said "yes" to leading our teachers and students in a uniquely Catholic milieu, fully aware of the hard work that this takes.
And speaking of teachers, we will employ almost 100 new teachers this year. They, too, are fully certified individuals who are prepared to experience the adventure of a lifetime - to touch the lives of the youngsters entrusted to them. What a joy it is to see their eager young faces anticipating the first day of school when they finally realize their dream of teaching.
Starting this year we will realize the first fruits of the capital campaign Upon This Rock, as grants have been made available to our schools to enhance and to grow their STREAM programs and STREAM Academies. Cohort IV, the final group of schools implementing STREAM, will be up and running this year. The excitement generated with this program that affects our students from 3 to 13 years old continue to grow as the emphasis on engineering is inserted, allowing our students the experience of writing engineering design briefs to confront real-world challenges.
Six of our pastors with schools have returned from the University of Notre Dame, where, this past July, they took part in the Pastors' Institute. They had the experience of spending time with other priests who, like themselves face the multitude of challenges of being a school pastor, along with the joys and blessings of having young people on their campuses every day eager to celebrate the sacraments and to be present to them as they encounter Jesus.
Our new school boards are still being trained, and those instituted three years ago are now taking control of school budgets and policies. They will have training in the board's role in marketing their school in October, and will be trained in the appraisal of their principal in January. They have become tremendous support to pastors and principals and we look forward to their maturing into true governing bodies for our schools.
Although we still have challenges ahead of us in the areas of finance, enrollment, aging buildings, and the upgrading of technology, just to mention a few, we inaugurate this school year with enthusiasm, hope and a lot of grit. Our schools continue to produce successful students, to be a gift to the greater Buffalo area, and to be beacons of hope to children and their parents. Let the applause begin as we raise the curtain on yet another school year!