By Staff     11/19/2014

ANAHEIM — Cornelia Connelly School has been selected as a Platinum Level School by Catholic Relief Services in recognition of the school’s high level of commitment to and participation in CRS programs, from fundraising to sending teachers and administrators abroad to observe CRS initiatives at work. Connelly was one of only 14 Platinum Level Schools—CRS’ highest designation—selected for the 2015-16 academic year and the only high school on the West Coast.

To qualify for the Platinum designation, schools must exhibit a strong commitment to the CRS mission through participation in programs such as Operation Rice Bowl and other CRS projects, support and moderate an online forum, organize events with featured speakers and send a teacher or administrator abroad to participate in CRS activities.

Connelly was selected to participate in a CRS pilot program in 2011 and has been increasing its involvement since then.

“This program is meant to help bring the work of Catholic Relief Services to the greater Catholic community and specifically young people,” says Matthew Marshall, a social science teacher at Connelly who traveled to Malawi with Martha Serrano, Connelly’s Assistant Head of School, “to observe firsthand the work of CRS. The complexity and diversity of their programs, from food security and nutrition to village banking and HIV/AIDS support, was inspiring and surprising to me.”

When the pair returned to Connelly, “we began to work with students to help focus their attention on the needs of people not only in Malawi, but around the developing world. The program that we developed revolved around the use of our student-organized clubs on campus, which focused on raising awareness and funds for a cause. The program culminated with a Global Solidarity Week when we held a community walk and celebration with booths led by each club.”

Recently, says Marshall, the school held “our annual All-School Service Day in which every member of our school community joins a service project in our local community. The end result is a program that strengthens our commitment to inspiring young women to be the global leaders of our future.”

The pilot program, says Marshall, ended with the past school year, but “the new Global High School program that it inspired will begin in the 2015/2016 school year. For our role in the formation of this program, Connelly is set to receive a plaque of gratitude by Catholic Relief Services” as well as the Platinum Level School designation for the inaugural year of the new program.