Catholic school option adds a critical dimension

Like most people in Elk River, I wonder where my money goes so quickly each month. With two kids, a mortgage, car payments, bills – it all seems to add up, and then it is gone. But there is one expense I count on to help guide my kids in the future; an investment worth the price.

When my young daughters went back to school earlier this month, they confidently walked their way down the halls of St. Andrew Catholic School, ready to embrace another year, confident in their parents’ choice for their education. And it is not a choice we take lightly because Elk River and the surrounding communities are brimming with excellent educational options. From public to charter to other private schools, it is hard to go wrong when finding the right fit for our kids.

Yet, when I take stock in my monthly finances and notice that tuition bill, I am heartened by a recent story my youngest daughter told me. Each morning, her first grade classroom starts the day with prayers. Earnest young kids, they share their prayers for the day – prayers for their dogs, their cats, a grandparent or two, maybe even a sports team or a wish to get a big hit in the upcoming fall baseball game.

I asked Mary, 7, what she prays for each morning, hoping she wouldn’t say for Daddy to be more patient or for the dog to stop trying to unnerve our cats.

“I pray for one thing — the same thing every day,” she said sheepishly.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Bert,” she said.

Her response nearly floored me. Bert isn’t the character from Sesame Street but instead a co-worker of mine who suffered a heart attack at the age of 42. He didn’t make it. Mary never met him, never knew who he was but heard her father talking about him and the way his life ended too soon.

Every morning for the last three weeks, 15 first graders in Mrs. Rerick’s classroom have prayed for a man they never met, because that’s what their little hearts tell them to do. While learning to read, write and do arithmetic, the kids are forming a community and growing together, finding out that what they believe in will help shape them for the future.

A faith-based education isn’t for everyone; but for many, it is a great way to learn and grow and share in smaller class settings.
On Saturday morning, Oct. 1, beginning at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Elk River, hundreds of children, their parents, teachers, friends and family will be walking to raise money and awareness about Catholic education. It is the annual marathon fund raiser held at Catholic schools across the country. If you see us, stop and honk, wave in encouragement or join us. — Cameron Potts, Elk River