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Catholic Schools celebrating week

IRONTON — Much like their public school counterparts, St. Lawrence Elementary and St. Joseph Central Catholic High School are well-known throughout Lawrence County.

This week those two schools, along with many other Catholic schools throughout the country, will step into the spotlight as they celebrate Catholic Schools Week.

Catholic education began in Ironton in 1852 when only a few hundred people lived in the town.

Feeling the need for a Catholic education even then, a one-room school with a teacher for all 12 grades — that was the norm for all schools — was opened with tuition set at $1 per student.

Father David Huffman — pastor of the Catholic Community of Ironton — said his experience the past seven years have proven the people are committed to their schools.

“My experience during my time here is Catholic education in Ironton is always a priority,” said Huffman. “We have dedicated teachers and staff members who help supply not only a good education but a strong faith-oriented atmosphere.”

Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. It starts the last Sunday of January and continues through Saturday.

This year’s theme is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”

The week includes various events such as Masses, open house and activities for students, families, parishioners and community members.

National test scores, high school graduation rates, college attendance and other data show that Catholic schools frequently outperform schools in both the public and private sectors.

Offering a faith-filled education for students, there is an average of a 32 percent waiting list for admissions and new schools are opening across the country.

Ironton’s Catholic Community recently purchased the former Kingsbury Elementary building to house St. Lawrence Elementary. Bishop Jeffrey Monforton blessed the building during the dedication on Dec. 13.

“The dedication was asking God to help us provide for a Christian education that we provide for the people of the area,” said Huffman.

Money for the purchase of the school from the Ironton City Schools was provided through the Diocesan Parish Share Campaign.