Alaska’s only independent Catholic school, Holy Rosary Academy, will join Catholic schools across the country in celebrating Catholic Schools Week.
In addition to the Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Week Mass, Holy Rosary will mark the week with their own annual traditions.
On the feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the patron of students, Holy Rosary children will enjoy dog bone shaped donuts — the dog being a traditional symbol of the scholarly Dominicans. Weather permitting, elementary students will go sledding at Kincaid Park.
As a community, the school appreciates the way the faith is seamlessly integrated into the academic curriculum and environment.
“Every day at Holy Rosary is supported by prayer,” said 4th grade teacher Marissa Welsh. “The day is begun and ended in prayer; the activities throughout the day are done in service to God.”
In addition to daily prayers, Mass is celebrated weekly, and students have regular opportunities for service projects.
Welsh, who taught in public schools before coming to Holy Rosary, said the school offers a very different experience and form of education than what is offered in public schools.
“At Holy Rosary, the curriculum is designed to aid students in finding the truth,” she said. “In my experience at public schools, this was not always the case. They would have many goals centered on the students’ feelings, but the word ‘truth’ wasn’t mentioned. Yet this hunger for truth and commitment to finding it is precisely what most parents truly want for their children.”
Principal Catherine Neumayr agreed.
“The school never tells the students what they must know, but rather activates their imagination by asking the questions all humans want to query,” she said.
This enables them to carefully think through their questions.
“Teaching the students how to think enables them to become the author of their own thoughts and gives them the freedom to discover truth, beauty, and goodness freely rather than in a way that is forced and intrusive to their natural wonder,” Neumayr added.
Ria Stevens had three children enrolled at Holy Rosary.
“We want our children not to excel just academically, but to learn to embrace the truth and to freely practice the Catholic faith,” she said of her decision to send her kids to the school. “We want our children to go to school where moral values and virtues are being practiced.”
Holy Rosary began as a homeschooling group in the Hickel family’s house in 1987. Over the years, it grew into an independent K-12 classical academy on Fireweed Lane, with the original Hickel home as a part of the campus. Now with 148 students the school operates independent of the archdiocese but with the blessing of Anchorage Archbishop Paul Etienne. Tuition is $5,000 for elementary, and $6,200 for the upper school, for the first student. Subsequent children in a family receive discounted tuition.