NEW ULM - New Ulm Area Catholic Schools (NUACS) begin the new school year with curriculum and facility upgrades, growth in instructional technology integration and an uptick in enrollment.
"Last year's transition of 7th and 8th graders could not have gone any better," adds High School Principal Peter Roufs. "It was great to see the whole NUACS community come together to make such a smooth transition. The benefits of being good stewards will continue into the future."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm Cathedral High School has replaced a computer lab with a laptop cart that can be brought to a classroom. The cart holds 24 computers.
The NUACS theme for this school year, ‘Catholic Schools Raise the Standards,’ highlights the recent launch of the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools. This initiative was set by the National Catholic Education Association to ensure consistent high standards at Catholic schools across the country. The logo, shown at right, illustrates a chart of steady growth culminating in the highest achievement of all, a cross representing the faith that underscores all Catholic education.
St. Anthony updated its religion curriculum this year, reported Principal Shelly Bauer. After reviewing several series, the school chose the "Blest Are We" series created by RCL Benziger. The series is based on Catholic heritage and teachings, explains Bauer. Interactive elements for staff, students and families are included with the program.
This year, the staff will research programs for elementary art and continue to review and update the social studies curriculum, adds Bauer.
St. Anthony Elementary continues to grow in the area of technology, by continuing to incorporate the use of interactive whiteboards into the curriculum, said Bauer. In addition, six laptop computers have been added to the library. Other improvements include replacing a series of laptop computers for the staff.
The cafeteria and main hallways of the building were painted during the summer. The school grounds have been upgraded with new landscaping. Energy saving equipment was installed in the school kitchen, said Bauer.
"I am excited about this school year. NUACS has a wonderful and extremely talented staff that is committed to providing the best faith-filled academic experience for their students. There is a great spirit at NUACS, and I am proud to be part of this school community," said Bauer.
Cathedral High School
"We continue to maintain our solid curriculum as we offer a wide variety of classes to our students," comments Roufs. "We have been blessed with additional assistance in our Resource Room, and look to be able to provide an ACT prep sessions for our seniors and juniors." The school has made some additions in the religion curriculum, including new textbooks for juniors. In the health classroom, the school is looking to implement more of the Top 20 Training curriculum, as teachers have received training over the last three years. Top 20 Training and its materials provide easily understood and immediately applicable concepts that help individuals, families, team and organizations develop their potential, explains Roufs.
The school replaced one of the stationary computer labs with a mobile lab. This technology will allow teachers to bring the computers directly into their classroom and integrate it into their lessons, said Roufs. "We are planning to update computers in our Resource Room which will allow for the use of special programs for students with particular needs. We were also able to update a number of our staff computers."
The auditorium was updated with paint, curtains, floor and general repairs, adds Roufs. "The improvements were greatly needed, and the updates really illustrate the beautiful workmanship that is in this historic auditorium. It will be a place where many activities will take place and serve the people well," adds Roufs. In addition to the new bleachers in the Cathedral High School gymnasium, the sound system was improved by installing several new pieces of sound equipment.
"We look forward to another great year at Cathedral High School," says Roufs. "We have been so blessed by the many people that have committed to the mission of our school. The students of the past have responded well, and I am very confident this year's student body will again respond and achieve great things."
NUACS is again compliant in all areas of the annual progress report sent to the Minnesota Nonpublic School Accrediting Association, said administrators. "This upcoming school year we will specifically continue to develop our marketing program, look at using online course work within our curriculum and continue studying how to best update our computer infrastructure," notes Roufs.
Theme for 2012-13
The theme for this school year, "Catholic Schools Raise the Standards," highlights the recent launch of a new initiative, the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools, explains Development Director John Vetter. This initiative was set by the National Catholic Education Association to ensure consistent high standards at Catholic schools across the country.
Many staff attended "Tech Boot Camp" this summer to learn more about the integration of interactive whiteboards and iPads into the curriculum. During the August staff development days, the staff focused on recognizing and responding to mental and behavioral health concerns in students. Speakers included individuals from BLR Drug Task Force, Brown County Family Services and the elementary counselor. The faith formation session featured a speaker from the University of St. Thomas Law School spoke about the far-reaching legal aspects of changing the definition of marriage.
The K-12 enrollment at NUACS has increased by 21 students from last year, according to NUACS administrators. For the second year in a row, there are three sections in kindergarten (44 students), up from two in the past several years, said Vetter.