Faithful Help Support Catholic Education through Adopt-A-Student, Scholarship Programs

 By D.F. Kratzer WHEELING— Many diocesan schools throughout the state are working to foster ways to help provide Catholic education for youth through Adopt-A-Student and scholarship programs. Schools conduct these tuition assistance programs in a variety of ways, differing from school to school. In many cases, the faithful may sponsor a specific child or donate funds to be used at the school’s discretion. In most instances, when donating to a scholarship program, donors may request their funds be earmarked for a specific scholarship or that the money be added to the general assistance program at a particular school. Complementing the diocese’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), which provided more than $600,000 in tuition assistance this year, Adopt-A-Student and scholarship programs provide extra assistance. “It is reassuring to me … that that money is out there,” said Arica Holt, principal of St. Vincent de Paul School in Wheeling. She said it is a display of the parish community’s unity, desire to “give a little extra to those in need” and belief in Catholic education. John M. Downey, principal of Our Lady of Fatima School in Huntington, said that the school implemented two financial aid opportunities—Adopt-A-Family and the Legacy Scholarship. The Adopt-A-Family program, he said, gives the parish community the opportunity to provide aid for students from parish families, while the Legacy Scholarship provides assistance to all students in need of financial assistance. “We want to make sure,” Downey said, “that we do our job to make sure that all people who value and want a Catholic education for their children can send their children here.” This school year, Parkersburg Catholic High School will commence its Adopt-A-Student program. Marie Held, principal, is overwhelmed with the support her school receives from the community. “Every year,” Held said, “I have friends of students, I have grandparents, I have alumni, I have lots of people who just say, ‘Here’s some money, put this toward somebody’s education,’” so an informal program has existed at the school. Parkersburg Catholic has formalized the program in hopes that it will inspire more families and parishioners to contribute to the Catholic education of the school’s students. At St. Francis Xavier School in Moundsville, many families contribute money to help fund students’ tuition and do so throughout the year, but this program is neither extensive nor formalized. Much of the financial aid coming from the school is in the form of scholarships, said Catherine Frame, principal. Individuals, families and businesses interested in providing a Catholic education for students, she said, have established several scholarships. In addition, yearly scholarship collections are taken at the parish and some scholarships are funded by the interest accrued via endowments. Frame said that Catholic schools are a special place for students and teachers alike and provide students the opportunity to learn in such an environment is paramount. At Catholic schools, Frame said, “we offer the same core curriculum as a public school, we offer very strong academic programs. More than that, you have the environment in which we teach, it is conducive to teachers getting to teach and students getting to learn—the environment makes that possible. I think that the safety factor, the religious overtone, the spirituality of the school and the ability of students to express that and to be a party of that and to learn their religious faith” are what draw families to Catholic schools. For more information about or to contribute to Adopt-A-Student or scholarship programs at diocesan schools, contact the near- est Catholic school or the diocesan Department of Catholic Schools at 233-0880, ext. 316, or e-mail