Parents choose to send their children to Catholic schools for various reasons. The most important one is to have their children spend the majority of their waking hours in a place that will educate them spiritually, as well as academically – a place that will reach the heart and soul, as well as the brain.
St. Pius V Catholic School in Buena Park does just that. Students excel academically, with 8th grade students being accepted into the prestigious high schools and magnet programs of their choice. Academics, however, are only one aspect of a successful Catholic student. Integrated throughout every aspect of the school day, including the academic areas, are the values of our Catholic faith. One of the most important values of our faith is to serve others. Students at St. Pius V take their faith beyond the classroom by serving each other, the community, and the Church.
To the students and staff at St. Pius V Catholic School, service becomes second nature. Recently, when asked about their perspective on serving others, they indicated that they enjoyed helping others. One student said, “It seldom feels difficult. It feels like I’m using the gifts that God gave me in order to help others. That’s what we are supposed to do.” Another student commented, “Sometimes I undertake service opportunities that take me out of my ‘comfort zone’. I get to grow and learn while helping other people. I like that.”
During the day and after school, students at St. Pius V serve each other. The 5th grade class serves as “reading buddies” to the kindergarten students. The older students select reading material that will interest their young buddies and read it to them. As the school year goes along and the younger children become more comfortable with reading, they read to the older students. This is such an important part of the culture that graduating 8th grade students clearly remember the name of their own “buddy” when they were kindergarteners.
Another way that the students serve each other is with the annual Quarter Carnival. Each year, on Mardi Gras, the 8th grade class prepare fun activities (games, treats, face-painting) for all the younger students and charge 25¢ a ticket. All of the money raised is then donated to a local charity. While challenging for the 8th grade class to organize, it provides an opportunity for the young teens to learn how to work together and organize activities for others.
Students at St. Pius V also learn to serve the community. Junior high students are responsible for up to 30 hours of service and fulfill that requirement by serving at beach cleanup days, community food drives, and the annual “Love Buena Park” day. Some students work in a nearby senior center helping with art classes, while others help elderly neighbors and family members with chores around their homes.
Finally, one of the greatest joys is witnessing the students of St. Pius V serve the Church. Over 70 percent of the school-aged students who serve at Masses and special liturgies are enrolled in, or have graduated from, our parish school and serve in the liturgical ministries of music (as singers, instrumentalists, or cantors), ushers, altar servers, and lectors. Each month, students from the school read at all of the weekend Masses. They are well prepared and understand the importance of their ministries in the context of the Mass and the assembly. They serve the school, parish and the Catholic Church very well and will continue to do so in the future.