Thousands of students were welcomed back into school buildings - both public and private - this week. As students, faces filled with joy, smiles and nerves, walked off the bus onto the grounds of the Catholic Academy of West Buffalo Tuesday morning, they were greeted by three of the top diocesan officials - Bishop Richard J. Malone, Diocesan Secretary for Catholic Education Carol Kostyniak, and Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools Sister Carol Cimino, SSJ.
"We're very hopeful for the beginning of the school year," Sister Carol said. "We're in year two of STREAM, and our enrollment has held pretty steady. We have a whole new batch of teachers too. There's no big looming issues this year, so it's just fun. We're having a ball here today."
STREAM is the new diocesan education initiative that focuses on Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math.
"It's like STEM (for public schools), but we added in religion and the arts, and that's beginning to spread through our system slowly," Bishop Malone said. "It's going to be good for the future for these children, as they are going to be more prepared in the sciences in high school and college, and maybe some of these new jobs coming to the area."
The diocese has received some national recognition for their new initiative, which has been implemented in all grade levels from Pre-K to eighth grade.
"We found that where our schools are doing STREAM, the attendance is almost 100 percent every single day," Sister Carol said. "Kids want to come to school. They're excited about it."
"We hope it has appeal to parents," Bishop Malone said. "It's really workforce development. For us as a Catholic school, we're most concerned with the children developing good Gospel values and coming to know who Jesus is in their lives, but integrated into that, has to be all the subjects that make them effective in the workforce."
Bishop Malone led the assembled students of Catholic Academy in a morning prayer before touring the school. He called for students to follow in the example of Jesus by being kind, forgiving and peaceful to each other throughout the school year.