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For National Catholic Schools Week, Cardinal Hickey Academy in Owings has been partaking in daily expressions of appreciation and having some fun in the process.

For this year’s annual event ­— which nationally is themed “Catholic Schools Raise the Standards” — Cardinal Hickey Principal Jennifer Griffith explained that the school had a committee of faculty members who planned daily special activities at the school.

Monday was community appreciation day where students brought in food pantry donations and wrote “thank you” notes to local businesses.

Tuesday was student appreciation day, during which students did not have to wear uniforms and were treated to ice cream. The day ended with the eighth grade playing the faculty in a volleyball game.

“It gets to be a real rivalry; the kids are so excited,” Griffith said of the volleyball game.

Wednesday was about parent appreciation, so they were invited to accompany their sons and daughters to lunch. On Thursday, the parents returned the appreciation to the school staff with a special luncheon. Friday concluded the week of activities with the school’s annual “Faith Rally” and a half-day dismissal.

In addition to the weekday activities, Griffith said the school also held an open house and pancake breakfast last Sunday.

“It was pretty good considering the inclement weather. It was so cold,” Griffith said of the open house turnout. “Catholic Schools Week always falls on the last weekend of January so you really have to just pray that you don’t have bad weather.”

Griffith said the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., didn’t give schools any particular guidelines for activities for the week.

“It’s up to the individual school. … It’s better to have representation from each grade say, ‘This will work for us,’ than me say, ‘This is what you’re going to do,’” Griffith said.

According to the students, the teachers did well planning the week.

Eighth grader Maria Colosi of Owings said she was particularly looking forward to the volleyball game, for which she said her class had been practicing during gym class.

“It’s a lot of build-up and everyone’s excited. Little kids stop you in the hall and say, ‘Go, eighth grade,’” Maria, 13, said.

Her classmate, Catherine Maresca, 13, of Owings, said the faith rally was always special for her.

“Just being able to spend time with God and prayer,” Catherine said. “… And we sing a lot.”

Eighth grader Frank McGarvey of Chesapeake Beach said he liked being able to go without his uniform.

Maria said one of her favorite Catholic Schools Week memories was last year when high school students from Mount de Sales Academy in Catonsville visited her class and grouped the students by gender.

“We had some really good discussions about purity and girl stuff,” Maria said.

The younger grades and faculty said they were enjoying the week just as much.

Spanish teacher Beth Conte said because she taught all students from kindergarten through eighth grade, attending events like the volleyball game let her see firsthand how far her students have come.

“I’ve known this group for many years. I love these kids; they’re very dear to me,” Conte said. “… They’re very effusive today. They’re full of life.”

Second graders Megan Krukar of Chesapeake Beach and Graham Parker of Owings said they were going back and forth on whether to cheer for the students or teachers to win the volleyball game. They said they also enjoyed making cards and thank you notes for local businesses.

“I wrote like, ‘You do a good job taking care of our community. Our whole community is proud of you,’” Megan, 7, said. “… We’re celebrating Catholic schools — we’re making God happy.”