Education is available at many schools, but Elyria Catholic High School has provided 70 years of learning with values, said the spiritual leader of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese.
Bishop Nelson J. Perez was the keynote speaker at the 70th Anniversary Ball and 2019 Forward Gala held April 6 at the school at 725 Gulf Road.
Catholic education is one of the greatest gifts the church has given American society, Perez said.
But it does not depend on the pastor, the bishop or the diocese, said Perez, who recounted his own experience as pastor of a parish with a school.
“It happens really because of you and what you’re doing here tonight,” Perez said. “It happens because a community comes together and wants it to happen and makes it happen. So I want to thank all of you in the name of the church of Cleveland, for making Elyria Catholic happen.”
The evening included demonstrations of Elyria Catholic’s Maker Space, a science and engineering room with computer-controlled 3-D printers and a laser etching machine.
In the hallway, sophomore John Martin, a robotics team member, and team mentor Peter Hoffman explained the team awards for a rookie outing at the FIRST Robotics Competition in Cleveland.
The group has earned a berth in the worlds contest scheduled this month in Detroit.
“We’re just trying to advance STEM and engineering,” Hoffman said. The focus on science, technology, engineering and math has expanded to STEAM to include arts, he said.
Elyria Catholic and other faith-based schools add religion to that combination, Hoffman said.
Martin steered the team’s robot, named Good ‘Nuff, to demonstrate how it can fix “hatches” to wooden holds, then load “cargo,” a plastic ball set in from above.
During competition, the team joins others, he said. They also brought home honors for “gracious professionalism.”
“It’s real engineering,” Martin said. “You’ve got to collaborate with people you’ve never met before.”
Something for every student
In the school’s Coliseum, the God Squad singing group performed as visitors mingled.
The group included singer Mel Belhouane, a sophomore who has found an environment to excel while dealing with autism, said his mother, Shelley Klemens of North Ridgeville.
“Honestly I can’t say enough good things about this school,” Klemens said.
The building is a school but the atmosphere is that of a family, she said.
“When you walk through the doors here, it’s like coming home,” Klemens said. “Honestly, it’s so much more than just a school. It’s a faith community and I feel so blessed that he’s here.”
Mel’s fellow students have been helpful, compassionate and understanding with his abilities, she said. Along with the God Squad, Mel participates in the Board Game Club, the Film Club, the Socratic Club debate group and the Breakfast Club, who gather Monday mornings to learn to cook the opening meal of the day.
His brother, Adam Belhouane, is a freshman at the school.
“They have something to offer every student and if it’s not offered, the student can create it,” Klemens said. “There is a place for every student at this school.”
Sharing their values
The group heard from award winners including Elyria Safety-Service Director Mary Siwierka, who received the Distinguished Alumni Award; and Our Lady of Grace Benefactors Judith Glenn and Matthew J. St. Marie.
Mikayla Molnar, winner of the Young Alumni Award of Excellence, had a message for the current students.
Elyria Catholic is difficult, she told students, but it will prepare them for the rest of their lives.
President Amy Butler and Principal Suzanne Lester discussed the academic achievements of students there.
St. Marie spoke about tradition, one of the five pillars that make up the core values of Elyria Catholic High School.
Perez also discussed the others: excellence in all things, compassion for all things, faith in Jesus and valuing the community of church, school and family.
The school of about 400 students has an incoming class of 120 new students.
“In reality you can really go anywhere to learn math and learn the social sciences and learn history and biology,” Perez said. “Yet there is a way, there is a manner in which a Catholic school teaches that. And that is actually wrapped up in values. In values.
The core values of this particular school are the environment in which many of the attendees and their children learned, Perez said.
“And it is the hope of a Catholic school that those core values will grow more and more in their minds and hearts and through those core values touch and transform society,” he said. “And transform the world.”
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