Diocesan Catholic High Schools Engage Students

Three diocesan Catholic high schools prepare young people not only academically but also spiritually to meet the challenges they will face in life. These young adults learn about social justice in their schools, their communities and their world.

Mater Dei Catholic High School in Breese: When people see a marching band perform or walk by in a parade, they generally have no idea how much time and effort goes into making that performance great.

Mater Dei Marching Knights have been winning competitions this year, most notably in percussion and color guard classes as well as others and taking first or second place in class or division.
“I love it,” Blake Korte, band director for the third year at the school, said.

The 62 members of the band must love it too, participating in practice two and a half hours twice a week, and sometimes more for various sections of the band. Band members participate “because they want to be there,” Korte said. The band’s season, Korte said, runs from July when members participate in a two-week band camp, practicing from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, to late October.

In fact, the band’s last competition will be held Oct. 29 at Belleville East High School.

Two drum majors lead and look after the band. Senior, Emma Dumstorff, said she didn’t participate in the band her freshman year but has for the past three years. “The band gave me a home,” she said. “They’re such a blessing.”

She and Amber Litteken, the other drum major, “help keep everything positive,” Dumstorff said.
Korte said the band “respect the drum majors.”

While people don’t see all the practice that goes into making an award-winning band, “the drills are demanding,” Korte said, and the band “is getting better and better with each rehearsal.

To see the band perform, go to a Mater Dei home football game. They perform during half-time, and they march in local parades, including the St. Louis Thanksgiving Day parade.

Gibault Catholic High School in Waterloo: If you say “trash,” Gibault Catholic High School students say “recycle.”

Actually, they say more than that, and under the direction of Gibault biology teacher Karen Asbury, they have been collecting paper, plastic and aluminum not only to be environmentally responsible but also to help fund projects at the school.

Students belong to SCOPE — Students Concerned about Our Planet and Environment — and work on a variety of projects throughout the year, emptying bins and contributing to their school.
Asbury received a grant to provide solar panels to power the school’s greenhouse and take it off the power grid.

SCOPE also collected plastic caps and lids — 400 lbs. per bench — sent them off with a check for $200 or $250 and picked up four plastic benches that provide seating on the school’s patio.
Russell Hart, school principal, liked the benches so much he encouraged them to provide two more benches for the school.

“It’s fantastic,” Hart said of the club’s efforts in recycling and placement of the solar panels.
The group has also adopted a portion of Route 3 in Waterloo to keep clean. Money from recycling is used to sponsor an animal at the St. Louis Zoo or animal facilities, Asbury said.
SCOPE students not only study the environment in class but they also do their part to protect it at school and in the community as well.

“We can incorporate information about the environment in our lessons,” Asbury said. “We can run data and can see what alternative energy can do.”

Sidney Wightman said she joined SCOPE so she could “change the environment in the world,” beginning with her school and community.

Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville: While many schools have introduced STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — into their classrooms, Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville is looking forward to implementing a STREAM lab in the fall of 2017.

Because “we are a Catholic school,” Dave Harris, Althoff principal, said, “we want STREAM — Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Art and Math — in our classrooms.

The school has begun a $3.5 million capital campaign to raise money for the new lab and for an athletic complex that will allow Althoff to share the facilities with area Catholic elementary schools.
Using technology is de rigueur in Althoff classrooms as well as beginning each class with prayer, Harris said.

On this day in Angie Luetkenhaus’ class, biology students were learning about mitosis and modeling the phases. Then students will make videos with their iPads of the lesson.
For more information on the campaign or the school, please go to althoff.net