Tyburn Academy seniors stand by the school's sign.

Catholic schools across the country recently celebrated Catholic Schools Week. Throughout the week, schools celebrate their history and promote who they are and acknowledge their successes. The intent of this article is to give a personal testimony and to share my experiences as a parent at Tyburn Academy.

My husband and I have five children who have graduated from Tyburn Academy. Our children are diverse in their interests, activities and academic abilities. We have high-achieving, very academic students and we have had a student with a disability. One of our sons has given us more hair-pulling moments and sleepless nights than any of our other children. His grades would swing from a 90 to a 50. He received awards for exemplary behavior and was suspended once at school for his behavior. He was once airlifted to the hospital when he sustained a concussion during a soccer game. Parenting is not for the faint of heart! Parents need a solid support system. For most of us, this support system comes from family and friends, but does it come from your child’s school as well? Is your child’s school environment helping you as a parent, or working against you? It is such a comfort to know that the place where my children spend the majority of their time (school) is working with me. What is taught at home is not contradicted at school. Right now, I have a child who is struggling a bit in one area. While I am addressing getting him professional testing in the school district, Tyburn addressed it the very next day with his teachers and the Heritage Learning Center in school. They took action immediately. As a family, we have made a commitment to go to Mass every week. At Tyburn, there are students from other religious denominations that also make that commitment to their church. And there are also families that do not go to church at all. We have never had big battles at home about this. This is why: Their school encourages it, their coaches support it and their friends respect it.

The second point I would like to make is in regards to the investment of Catholic education. It is a sacrifice to pay tuition when we already pay hefty school taxes and budgets are tight at home; however, it is also a matter of priority. We live in a culture where having excess is the norm. Our children feel “normal” if they have more “stuff.” A nurturing learning environment focused on high academic standards builds lasting confidence in a child; the latest cellphone builds a false confidence that lasts only until the next one comes out. Tyburn Academy works diligently on prudent spending, financial assistance and scholarships. Just as important are the scholarships that graduates of Tyburn receive from colleges and universities. I cannot stress this enough: All of my children at all different academic levels have received scholarships that have been greater than the tuition at Tyburn. School ranking matters. Tyburn test scores are above-average. Last year alone, Tyburn graduates received over $1 million in scholarships. When a Tyburn transcript with Latin, AP classes and college credit classes goes out to college admissions offices, it stands out. Lastly, Tyburn gives a $5,000 scholarship to students who have attended a Catholic elementary school.

My last point is on moral formation. Theology is a required course for all students at Tyburn. The mission states, “Christian values are the foundation basic to all our endeavors.” Students at Tyburn learn how all religions have impacted history. They learn from the Bible that Jesus experienced more events in his life than just Christmas and Easter. They learn the 10 Commandments: love thy neighbor, do not steal, do not kill, etc. They learn to pray. Tyburn students treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ and are taught that the way they treat others in and out of school makes a difference today and tomorrow. Our society has lost what it means to respect the dignity of all people. Our world and especially our churches need morally formed children to lead us into a better future.

So I ask you today to visit the Catholic schools in our community. We are fortunate to have two of these schools in Auburn, Tyburn Academy and St. Joseph School. These schools are the support system that your child and your family needs.

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Ann Fallon works in development at Tyburn Academy, an independent Catholic school recognized by the Rochester Diocese that is located at 17 Clymer St., Auburn. She has three children who graduated from the school and three who are currently enrolled. For more information, call (315) 252-2937 or visit tyburnacademy.com.