The Archdiocese of Milwaukee Office for Schools announced its Exemplary Recognition school awards for 2021. Based on the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools, these awards are valid for five years. These awards will be presented at the Educators’ Convention at the Wisconsin Center on Friday, Oct. 8.

The application process for these awards is rigorous. First, a school completes an application narrative on the tenets of a given award. From these applications, finalist schools are chosen for site visits from an archdiocesan team before the winners are announced.

Educating the Whole Student

This award, which focuses on school-wide programs for educational enhancement, looks at parent partnership opportunities, guidance services, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, digital resources, and classroom instruction, among other things, all through a lens of Scripture and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

St. John the Baptist, Plymouth

The evaluation team commended St. John the Baptist on the leadership of Fr. Philip Reifenberg and Principal Amy Nelson in facilitating and sustaining a school culture that exemplifies whole student education.  The site visit team pointed to data-driven instruction and a positive relationship with the Plymouth Public School District to meet student needs. There were ample opportunities for all students to be involved in extra- and co-curricular activities.

Mission and Catholic Identity

Schools recognized as Exemplary in Mission and Catholic Identity are scored on their mission and vision statements, religious instruction, school environment and culture, liturgy, prayer and spiritual life, and finally, service and gospel witness.

St. Agnes School, Butler

The self-study process reveals that non-Catholic Choice students at St. Agnes School are equally active participants with Catholic tuition-paying students at St. Agnes School. During the instructional week, they are involved in prayer, liturgy of the word, service and religious instruction. It is evident that non-Catholic families joining St. Agnes School seek the strength and grace that comes from an education focusing on the development of students dedicated to becoming disciples of Jesus Christ.

St. Anthony on the Lake, Pewaukee

St. Anthony received commendations for the pervasive communal atmosphere demonstrated by the common language of the entire school and parish community and a link between the parish and school that is “exceptionally seamless, integrated and strong.” The relationships among the community are marked by respect and a common purpose.  Faith-based values are evidenced throughout the curriculum and school programming, and the school environment is filled with examples of the school’s faith-based culture.

St. Bruno Parish School, Dousman

Special commendations include St. Bruno’s ‘Belong, Believe, Become’ initiative, Fr. Dan Volkert’s presence impacting the spiritual culture of the school, the clear evidence of faith in the school environment and staff, and communication between the school and community.

St. Mary Parish School, Hales Corners

The St. Mary Parish School and parish connection is vibrant, strong and fruitful. Prayer experiences for all are varied, authentic and personal. The school’s Faith Formation Committee is well-supported, committed and effective, and “numerous, varied and efficacious” outlets and programs for faith development are rooted in the mission and integrated throughout the school community.

St. Mary Parish School, Menomonee Falls

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathleen Cepelka, who was part of the site visit team, pointed to the way St. Mary attended to the faith formation of the whole student. A yearly theme provides focus to both students and faculty, and strong, stable leadership guides the way. The commitment to faith formation is held in union with the parish, and the priests are very involved in the school community. During student interviews, it was clear that “their faith is shown most visibly by the way that they treat one another.”

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