South MS Catholic school enrollment almost at pre-Katrina level

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - It's Catholic Schools week and in South Mississippi there is much to celebrate. In recent years enrollment within the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi has continued to climb despite an economic downturn and despite losing several schools to Hurricane Katrina. In fact, school officials said they have almost as many students as they did before the storm.

Every day they spend in class Catholic school students said they are taught the importance of a good education.

Sixth grader Meghan Denmark said, "If you don't study hard then when you grow up and go to college you might not get a good job when you're out. I hear it's hard to go through life without having a good job."

At a Catholic Schools week celebration at Resurrection Catholic School in Pascagoula, the students, teachers and parents celebrated how the Biloxi Diocese has been able to grow enrollment to 98 percent what it was before Katrina.

"We believe it's because our stake holders have such a strong commitment, academic formation, and a faith foundation,' said Rhonda Clark, Assistant School Superintendent. "Those are two things that we strive to accomplish in our schools is to give the students the all around experience in their schools."

Clark said "We also stress service to the community. Our students are all involved in community activities. They're out in the community. They're living their faith every day."

The children said they're learning to be good students and a good friend to their fellow man.

Senior Mary Kate Blackman said, "They really push the morals. It's all about balancing the morals and the academics.

"I feel that it's given me strength to go and kind of teach my faith," said Megan Koon, a senior. "To be more accepting and tolerant of everyone no matter what the go though. Just being there for everyone. "

Catholic school officials say 25 percent of the students in the Biloxi Diocese are non-Catholics. Also the many churches offer tuition assistance programs to help families in the parish afford to give their children a Catholic education.

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.