EXETER — On a rainy Wednesday morning, Wyoming Area Catholic School Principal Eileen Rishcoff pulled out her iPhone and began playing the song “Shut Up and Dance” by the band Walk the Moon over the loud speaker.
Moments later the security camera footage on the television monitor in her office showed students and faculty in the cafeteria dancing to the music until Rishcoff turned off the speaker.
Stopping to dance to music at random times of the day was just one of the fun activities the Exeter school does in celebration of National Catholic Schools Week.
According to the National Catholic Educational Association website, National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States.
“It’s a chance for us to celebrate uniqueness of our schools and what we do as Catholic schools,” said Rishcoff.
It starts the last Sunday in January and runs the whole week as schools plan special activities for their students and faculty.
This year marked the 42nd year for the tradition and it was celebrated across the country Sunday, Jan. 31 through Friday, Feb. 5.
Wyoming Area Catholic started the week off with an open house and was followed by activities throughout the week such as a spelling bee, a geography bee, a talent show, a pep rally, a basketball game between the eighth grade boys and girls basketball teams and WACky Olympics that included various gym-related games.
Holy Rosary School in Duryea also had an open house featured a movie day, a talent show, a basketball game between the junior varsity and varsity teams, an ice cream social day and a gym day.
“Gym day, in the morning, our grades are broken into groups and they have different stations they go to with parachutes, a balloon relay, scooters and then there is a Duck, Duck, Goose station,” said Holy Rosary School Principal Candice Lee. “We have a lot of parents that come in and volunteer and in the afternoon we have a pep rally followed by our volleyball game at the end of the day.”
Holy Rosary concluded its week with a Mass to show teacher appreciation and Wyoming Area Catholic students presented teachers with projects they made.
Lee said some new activities this year for Holy Rosary School included a “Selfie Day” during which students brought in cameras to take their own pictures as well as a “Staff Trivia Day” where students are asked various questions by staff members.
The class with the most correct answers gets an extra computer day.
At Wyoming Area Catholic, students in different grades broke off into teams and worked together on various activities throughout the week.
“We had team captains, the eighth graders, with a teacher mentor like they’re the coach, and a few students from each grade so it gives a chance for the older students to work with the younger students,” said Rishcoff.
While Catholic Schools Week is fun for the students, Lee said it is another way for them give back to the community through other activities.
“Something we focus on is service to others,” she said. “But with this week all money we raise, like we ask for a $1 donation for movie day, and all money goes to the Bernadine Franciscan Sisters as they helped in founding our school. Different classes do different things such as making cards for parishes and our sixth grade class made cards for the Duryea Police Department. Another class made cards for our faculty and staff and students said what they appreciate the most from them.”
Rischoff said Wyoming Area Catholic students collected canned good called a “Souper Bowl” where they donated soup to the Greater Pittston Food Pantry.
Both Lee and Rishcoff are always thrilled when yearly event rolls around.
“I look forward to it for the fun of the students,” said Lee.
“I truly love the children in this school and they were so happy this week,” said Rishcoff. “I love the pure happiness that they have… and I love that they’re so happy about it.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher