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Chicago, IL ( August 30, 2007 )— The 256 Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic elementary and high schools have begun their annual “Back to School” activities with full and half-day sessions. Many Catholic school students and faculties are looking forward to visits by Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, throughout September. Cardinal George will be celebrating Masses as well as blessing and dedicating a number of new school facilities.

Nearly 100,000 Catholic school students and more than 7,000 teachers and staff are returning to classrooms this fall. Many new initiatives and capital improvements are also taking place throughout the Catholic school system in Cook and Lake counties, including several building projects that are either planned or already under way. Additionally, a number of Catholic high schools will be adopting the laptops-for-every-student initiative this fall including Mount Assisi Academy , 13860 Main St., Lemont; Guerin College Preparatory High School , 8001 W. Belmont Ave., River Grove; and Queen of Peace High School , 7659 S. Linder Ave., Burbank. These schools will join St. Joseph High School , 10900 W. Cermak Rd., Westchester; Seton Academy , 16100 Seton Rd., South Holland; and De La Salle Institute’s two campuses on Chicago’s southeast side that are already participating in this initiative.

“As we enter the 2007-2008 school year, I extend my sincere gratitude to the thousands of families, employees and friends who work so hard to make the holy gift of Catholic school education a reality for children”, said Nicholas Wolsonovich, Ph.D., Superintendent, Office of Catholic Schools, Archdiocese of Chicago.

The 2007-2008 school year will see the implementation of Genesis, the Archdiocese’s strategic plan for schools, which focuses on the key areas of Catholic Identity and Mission, Academic Excellence, and School Vitality.

As part of the schools' ongoing commitment to academic excellence, the subject areas of SocialStudies and Physical Education have been added to the uniform curriculum for grades pre-K through 12. The development of these curricula began in 2004 and now includes AIDS, Fine Arts, Health, Language Arts, Mathematics, Religion, Science, and newly developed Social Studies and Physical Education. To learn more about Genesis or to find information about all the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago, visit and click on Catholic Schools.

Cardinal George’s School Visits

Holy Trinity School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing 50 th Anniversary
On Sunday, September 16, at 3 p.m., Cardinal George will be the main celebrant at a Mass at Notre Dame de Chicago Church, 1335 W. Harrison, Chicago, marking the beginning of a year-long celebration of the 50 th anniversary for the Holy Trinity School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Founded in 1957, it is the Archdiocese’s only school for preschool to eighth grade deaf and hard of hearing students.

St. Martin de Porres High School
On Tuesday, September 18, at 9 a.m., Cardinal George will be the main celebrant at a Mass to open the school year with students, faculty and staff of St. Martin de Porres High School, 501 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Waukegan. Cardinal George will tour the school following the Mass. St. Martin de Porres High School opened in 2004 as a Cristo Rey Network school where students participate in the Corporate Internship Program.

St. Pascal School
On Wednesday, September 26, at 9:30 a.m., Cardinal George will be the main celebrant at a school Mass at St. Pascal Church, 3935 N. Melvina Ave., Chicago. The Mass, held at the Cardinal’s elementary school alma mater, will recognize his 10-year anniversary as Archbishop of Chicago.

Catholic School Events and Ceremonies

St. James School, Arlington Heights
Most Rev. George J. Rassas, Auxiliary Bishop for Vicariate I, will officiate at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new school and Formation Center immediately following the 5 p.m. Mass on Sunday, September 9. Bishop Rassas will preside at the Mass, and the ceremony will be held on the site of the current junior high school on the west side of Arlington Heights Road, and across the street from St. James Church, 820 N. Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights. The new buildings are scheduled to open in November 2008.

Immaculate Conception School, Chicago (North Park Avenue)
Immaculate Conception School, 1431 N. North Park Ave., opened its doors in 2002 to 19 preschool and kindergarten students. By the end of the 2006-07 school year, school enrollment reached just over 200 students in preschool through 4th grade, and as part of a grow-a-school effort, a new grade will be added annually through 8th grade. To meet this demand, and fulfill the school’s mission, a second floor is being added to the existing building that will house three new preschool classrooms and a multi-purpose room.

Immaculate Conception School, Chicago (West Talcott Avenue)
Following an April 29 groundbreaking ceremony, the second phase of a capital campaign to build a new parish center to be used by school students and the parish community at Immaculate Conception Parish, 7211 W. Talcott Ave., is moving forward toward a targeted April 2008 completion date.

Old St. Mary’s School, Chicago
Fr. Michael Kallock, pastor of Old St. Mary's Catholic Church, 1500 S Michigan Ave., will mark the 175 th anniversary ofthe parish by launching a fundraising campaign to build a new school on or near its South Loop property in the first few months of 2008. The new grammar school would be one of a handful of new Catholic schools built in the Archdiocese in the past 20 years.

St. Zachary School, Des Plaines
Nearly $650,000 of a $1 million goal has been collected from the parish community for a new gymnasium and parish life center. During the closing Mass ofthe parish’s annual Augustfest celebration on August 5, Rev. John Plotkowski, St. Zachary’s pastor, blessed and then led a groundbreaking ceremony for construction of these new facilities, which is now underway at the parish, 567 W. Algonquin Rd., Des Plaines.

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