Catholic Schools Week 2023: Celebrating Families

We know that when parents choose to attend The Franciscan School, they do so with many great school options in the area - both public and private. And while oftentimes TFS gets categorized as a private school, it’s not just that. In fact, it’s so much more. It’s a Catholic school, rich with strong faith traditions, authentic community, challenging curriculum, dedicated teachers, and a heart for service. 

This week we are celebrating Catholic Schools Week and how special our school community is. The theme for this year continues on from last year - Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service. It is for these very reasons that parents choose TFS and a Catholic education for their families. TFS lays the foundational framework of faith, accompanied by an academic regimen that challenges students to think critically. They develop a deep sense of service through hands-on activities that will carry with them throughout their life. The National Catholic Educational Association emphasizes that “Catholic schools have a specific purpose to form students to be good citizens of the world, love God and neighbor and enrich society with the leaven of the gospel and by example of faith.”

We spoke with four families who have children attending TFS to get their take on why they chose a Catholic education, and more specifically, TFS, for their families. We are so thankful for the many families who partner with us to make our school such a great place during Catholic Schools Week and each week of the year.

Why did you choose a private school education, most specifically a Catholic school education, for your family?

The Cassidy Family, with two children attending TFS:

“We chose a Catholic education for our children primarily because we believe proper catechesis and formation in the faith are just as important as reading, writing, and arithmetic.  We did not want our children to simply ‘receive an education.’ We wanted our children to learn the proper, central role of faith in the human experience.”

The Milnor Family, with two children attending TFS:

“Belonging to St Francis Parish, and having family (nieces) at TFS, we always heard about the greatness of the community: the close-knit feel, the foundation in faith and being surrounded by families that share similar values, and the ability to form life-long friends. Our oldest daughter, then four, entered the pre-school and we immediately fell in love with the teachers, staff, campus, and faith-filled vibe. The Director of the Program (Heidi) was incredibly welcoming, and we just knew she was living her life’s mission. Many times she thanked us for trusting her and the team to be with our children, and you truly got the sense that she felt honored to be part of our lives. It really was so moving and confirmation that we were surrounded with wonderful people who were doing God’s work. The preschool was just such an amazing group, and it really was the best part of our day knowing that our girls were happy, safe, and learning in a faith-filled environment.”

The Fraites Family, with two children attending TFS:

“We didn’t set out to choose a private school education for our children. If the choice had been private school vs. public school, we would have sent the kids to the excellent public elementary school zoned for our neighborhood. In Baptism, parents are called to be the first teachers of their child in the ways of faith. We have really tried to view our family as the domestic Church, and as parishioners at the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi, we see the parish as an extension of our home. It’s only fitting, then, that The Franciscan School is the third leg of our family triangle: a seamless, continuous home – from our house, to church, to school - in which our children can grow, learn, and serve. I hope similar motivations underlie most parents’ decisions to choose TFS. Since the school opened, the administrators have been, rightly, saying to the community—“We are not a private school. We’re a Catholic school.”  

The Carroll Family, with three children attending TFS:

“We chose a Catholic private school education because we would like our children to develop their educational foundation with the pillars of the church's support.”

What led you to The Franciscan School amongst all of the many school options in Wake County?

The Cassidy Family:

“We chose TFS for a number of reasons. When we moved to the area, we wanted to be close to a Catholic school. We looked in Cary and Apex, and while we liked what we saw when touring the local Catholic schools in those towns, we felt more at home at TFS. We were immediately drawn to the warmth and openness of the faculty and staff we met during the tour, and we found our discussions about curriculum to be very encouraging.”

The Milnor Family:
“We toured eight schools for our oldest daughter as she prepared to enter kindergarten. From the beginning we knew that TFS had so much to offer and would be a great fit (for both our daughters). You know when you walk into the school – you feel the energy, the love for learning, and with everyone that we met at TFS during the tour, we felt welcome and like it was home.  Plus the campus is simple, and beautiful. Father Jim has been a prolific presence at St. Francis for years – his energy and overall zest for life were something that we really wanted our children to be surrounded with. The Franciscan Friars, who lead the church, have always set the tone that the Catholic environment was the foundation we wanted for our family. We moved to Raleigh from Boston. We felt so connected to St. Francis and the Franciscan Friars that we had our oldest daughter baptized here even though we were living in Boston at the time.  

When looking for the right environment, we wanted community, shared values, great teachers, involvement from families, and something close to home to help foster community. “

The Fraites Family:

“Our hearts were set on The Franciscan School before the kids were born. We joined the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi shortly after moving to the area in 2004 because the charisms, ministries, and culture of the parish spoke to our hearts in deep and inviting ways. We were married at St. Francis, started our family at St. Francis, and when we decided to return to North Carolina after five years in New Jersey, we put a pin in a map at St. Francis and gave our realtor a search radius with that as the center. In all honesty, we looked at no other schools – this one is our home.”

The Carroll Family:

“We were already members at St. Francis, so the decision for our children to attend both the preschool and TFS was appealing.”

What aspects of a Catholic education do you feel are most important for your family?

The Cassidy Family:

“As cradle Catholics, we unfortunately grew up very ignorant of our own faith. We each observed the holidays and traditions, but did not necessarily understand why we celebrate what we celebrate, or why we believe what we believe. We educated ourselves on these matters in our adult years and knew we wanted our children to know the glory and majesty of Christ’s church on earth. Learning the foundations of our beliefs, learning the proper, critical role of faith in our development as humans, and learning the key components of Catholic apologetics are non-negotiable—these are a must for our children.”

The Milnor Family:

“There are so many,, really. Faith, the belief in Jesus, and the teaching of St. Francis of Assisi are the foundation of our family and how we live our lives. Participation in weekly mass, learning about the teachings of the Lord, the ability to serve the community and give back is incredibly important to us and that is a huge focus at TFS.”

The Fraites Family:

“The students at TFS are expected to do more than simply memorize facts about their faith—they are invited and encouraged to live their faith in every moment. Starting at daily morning prayer, the students listen to the Word of God and pray for others. During weekly Mass, they celebrate the gift of the Eucharist and sing praise. Those who haven’t yet experienced a school Mass should try to join us sometime—the beauty and blessing of these children singing and moving to the music is overwhelming. The newest, amazing aspect of a TFS Catholic education is the incorporation of monthly half-days devoted to the study of the Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching (CST). During CST Days, our kids are learning and experiencing that each person is a beloved child of God. In November, for instance, the students learned about and participated in activities related to the Dignity of Work and collected gift cards for “hidden hero” workers (facility and cleaning crews) of the school. We could not be any happier that our children – who are blessed and privileged to receive a Catholic education – are consistently giving and learning that “all human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching.”

The Carroll Family:

“The education curriculum is designed so that our religious beliefs are instilled in our children.”

How important is it to you that TFS tries to partner with families to ensure that they are carrying the values of home throughout the school day?

The Cassidy Family:

“This is absolutely paramount to us. We understand the fallen nature of our world and how crucial it is to have a few ‘rocks in the river.’ We are categorically against the notion of dismissing our children from the home for 7-9 hours a day and being entirely uninvolved in their education. We chose a Catholic education because the Church’s values are our values. If we can’t educate our children ourselves, then it is absolutely necessary that the values we hold dear as a family are carried forward into their educational environments.”

The Milnor Family:

“There are so many ways to be part of the TFS community and join other families in their faith journey. At TFS, the children have opportunities to work on public speaking. During morning prayer and weekly mass, the children participate in preparing the readings. Listening to the children share the word of the Lord is very beautiful and brings great joy to the community. 

Giving back and creating community is so important to our family. We are able to put this value in practice and show our daughters how important it is to bring people along, give to others and be part of something greater than themselves. There are several ways to get involved and serve throughout the year – holiday food donations to The Passage Home, the Angel Tree, Oak City Cares just to name a few.”

The Fraites Family:

“The values of our home are formed by our Catholic identity, so it means everything to us that love of God, yourself, and others surrounds our children at school as well. When our kids can live our values all day, every day of their young lives – instead of being bombarded with conflicting or contradicting messages throughout their day for five days a week – it means they can form their Catholic identities in a way we hope will be lifelong (and eternal). We live in a society and a culture in which young and old alike are expected to suppress their true selves in order to ‘get along’ professionally or socially. Our children’s formative years are precious, and we want those years to be clear and affirming, every moment of every day, of the truth and infinite hope of the Gospel message. We are incredibly blessed and so thankful to be part of a school community with so many other like-minded families who also choose to intentionally put Christ as the center of their families.”

The Carroll Family: 

“We value faith, respectfulness towards others, and academic achievement - these values are all demonstrated by the TFS community each day.”

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