By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Holy Trinity Catholic School, as well as Catholic schools throughout the nation, will be celebrating Catholic Schools Week Sunday through Saturday, Jan. 29 through Feb. 4.
The theme for 2012 is “Catholic Schools: Faith. Academics. Service.” The theme focuses on the three priorities that make Catholic schools stand out from other educational institutions, according to the National Catholic Educational Association’s website.
“This week we observe Catholic Schools Week as a way of celebrating our parish’s long commitment to the education of young people,” Holy Trinity Pastor Fr. Tony Stubeda said. “We celebrate not only a commitment to high academic standards and the education of young people’s minds, but also our commitment to schooling their lives in the ways of faith that lead to selfless service to our community,” Stubeda said. “Our pride in our school is a reflection of the gratitude we feel to God for our part in shaping the lives of our students.”
The school’s mission is to provide a Catholic, faith-centered, spiritual community, which guides and educates children in faith and academics in preparation for the challenges of today’s world.
Students pray before each class, before meals and after meals, and celebrate weekly Mass, which provides the opportunity for the whole school to worship together and share in the Eucharist.
Since the fall of 1883, Holy Trinity School has provided Catholic education to area students. In 1921, high school courses were added to the curriculum, and in 1924, Holy Trinity presented its first graduating class.
Throughout that time, it has provided students with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills that encourage academic excellence.
The school’s grading scale is higher than many other schools, and its curriculum is challenging, but this fall more than 72 percent of the students earned honor roll status.
Holy Trinity administration attributes this achievement, in part, to the personal attention and dedication of its faculty.
There are many families who have had multiple generations attend Holy Trinity School because of the educational experience they, themselves, have had and want to pass on to their children.
Holy Trinity Development Director, Angie Kutz Hertel, is the second generation of her family to attend Holy Trinity. She married Jake Hertel, who is also the second generation of his family to attend Holy Trinity.
The Hertels have continued the tradition by sending their two children to Holy Trinity, as well.
“Holy Trinity is a special place with excellent teachers, high academic standards, and a nurturing spirit like no other,” Hertel said. “Now, having two kids in the elementary school, we are realizing those attributes as parents of Holy Trinity School and couldn’t be more proud to give our kids this opportunity.”
“Celebrating Catholic Schools Week reminds us of the special way faith and service is integrated into the learning environment at Holy Trinity and what a positive impact it has had on our kids,” Hertel said.
Community service at Holy Trinity plays a very important role in teaching students about compassion and helping others. In an average school year, more than 1,000 student service hours are given to the community. The school hosts annual fall and spring service days when students provide raking, painting, and general cleaning for area residents.
Holy Trinity Principal, Bill Tschida, who has been principal at Holy Trinity for five years, is amazed by the number of service projects students take on in each school year.
“From the food shelf, Sharing and Caring Hands, Christmas toy drives, school fundraisers, to Higher Ground and Winstock, Holy Trinity exhibits an unmatched service to their faith, parish and school. I am continually humbled by the things I see happen at Holy Trinity,” Tschida said.
Holy Trinity campus minister Elaine Kahle is witness to the change that occurs in students as they become aware of other’s needs.
“The faith and service opportunities that the students have at Holy Trinity,” Kahle said, “such as class retreats, service days, volunteering at the McLeod County Food Shelf and Sharing and Caring Hands, opens the eyes and hearts of our students to realize that, ‘It’s not all about ME.’ There is a big world out there that God is calling us to be a part of. Not only to love and serve him, but to love and serve those around us.”
“Holy Trinity strives to educate the whole student, not just the head, but the heart and soul as well,” Kahle said.