Espiritu Santo School Celebrates National Catholic Schools Week
Dates: January 29, 2017 through Friday February 3, 2017
Location: Espiritu Santo Catholic School
2405-A Phillipe Parkway, Safety Harbor, FL 34695
What is National Catholic Schools Week? Since 1974, National Catholic Schools Week is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. It starts the last Sunday in January and runs all week, which in 2017 is January 29 – February 4. The theme for the National Catholic Schools Week 2017 is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” Schools typically observe the annual celebration week with Masses, open houses and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and our nation.
Sunday, January 29, 2017: Open House for Parishioners and Prospective Families 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Theme: In Our Parish Catholic schools benefit all year long from the religious guidance, prayers and support parishes provide. Many parishes join in the National Catholic Schools Week celebration by devoting a Mass to Catholic education. Schools start the week by inviting parishioners and community members to parish-centered events and school open houses that feature their outstanding academic programs, religious education and service opportunities.
Monday, January 30, 2017: Mayoral Visit: Safety Harbor Mayor Andy Steingold to visit and declare “Catholic Education Week” for the City of Safety Harbor and Students Complete Service Projects
Theme: In Our Community A central aspect of Catholic education is learning the importance of service to others. When students take part in service activities—both local and beyond—they demonstrate the values and faith they gain through their Catholic education and learn how to make the world a better place. When they observe how others serve the community, they gain an appreciation for how they can continue to serve others their entire lives.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017: Special Assembly for Students “Mad Science” and Spelling Bee
Theme: Celebrating Your Students Schools celebrate students during National Catholic Schools Week by planning enjoyable and meaningful activities for them and recognizing their accomplishments. They encourage students to reflect on the benefits of Catholic education and how the grounding in faith, knowledge and service it provides will help them throughout their lives.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017: “Honoring Our Country” Prayer Service by Student Council and Grandparent’s Day, Flag ceremony by Boy and Girl Scout troops, performance by school choir
Theme: Celebrating the Nation On National Appreciation Day for Catholic Schools, students, families, educators and other Catholic school supporters communicate the value of Catholic education to government leaders. They share information with leaders on the significant contributions Catholic schools make to the nation and their role in preparing students to be good citizens. They pray for the nation and recognize all those who serve it.
Thursday, February 2, 2017: Appreciation Lunch for Staff and Math Bowl
Theme: Celebrating Vocations By focusing on faith, knowledge and service, Catholic schools prepare children to use their God-given talents to the fullest later in life. National Catholic Schools Week offers an opportunity for students to explore the many life paths that enable them to use their talents well in the service of God and others — by answering the call to a religious vocation, by nurturing a family through sacramental marriage, by volunteering in church activities and charities, and/or by pursuing a career that makes the world a better place.
Friday, February 3, 2017: Feast for Saint Blaise Day, American Heart Association Events: Hoops for Heart & Jump Rope for Heart, Spirit Rally
Theme: Celebrating Faculty, Staff and Volunteers On this day, schools will honor teachers and principals as well as administrators and staff who support them in their important work and thank the parents, grandparents, alumni, parishioners and school board members who provide volunteer service.
About Espiritu Santo Catholic School:
Espiritu Santo Catholic School begins with the history of the Catholic faith that was first carried to Old Tampa Bay in 1539 by Hernando DeSoto. This famous Spanish explorer landed on Pentecost Sunday and in honor of the feast day, he named the springs he found “Espiritu Santo”, meaning Holy Spirit. Thirty years later Pedro Menendez de Airles came to Espiritu Santo springs with a fleet of ships in order to establish settlements along the west coast of Florida. Menendez sailed on, leaving behind a captain, 30 soldiers, and a Catholic priest. Here they built a chapel with the intention of ministering to the Tocabago, the native Indians. Although this first mission was unsuccessful, the seed of faith had been planted at the springs, and in time that seed blossomed and flourished.
In 1960, over 400 years later, there was a need for a Catholic parish to be established in the area of Safety Harbor. A mission church was established meeting in a storefront in the small community of Safety Harbor, Florida. In 1964 ground was broken for the church to be called Espiritu Santo Catholic Church. The first Mass was held in the church on Christmas Eve, 1964. The church was located just 1Ž4 mile from the first pole-thatched chapel erected by Pedro Menendez’s missionary party. In 1974, the Espiritu Santo parish numbers exceeded 1,000. It became necessary to construct a second building on the knoll overlooking the site of the original mission to accommodate overflow Masses, social gatherings, church activities and religious education classes. This building today is the John Bosco Center. Shortly after the completion of this building a rectory and church office was built and dedicated in 1980. In the mid 1980’s a pre-school was established using facilities on church grounds. Family enrollment was up to over 2,000 families in 1985 and it was very apparent that a new church building was needed. In April 1987 the first Mass was celebrated in the current church, which seats 1,000 people.
In 1999, Fr. Gregg Tottle, Pastor of Espiritu Santo Catholic Church, saw the need for more classrooms for our ever-growing Religious Education Department. After surveying the parish community, it was clear that the parish was supportive of building a school. Ground was broken for the school October 15, 2000. Bishop Robert Lynch dedicated the school building on August 19, 2001. The school opened in August 2001 with an enrollment of 301 students in grades Pre-K3 through grade 6. The school, being part of the parish family, also houses Religious Education classes and adult education programs in the evening as well as other church functions.
Today, Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School is under the leadership of Pastor Fr. Len Piotrowski and is over 4,000 members strong. As our parish school continues to move forward in the 21st century, the seed that was planted in 2001 has firmly rooted itself in the community of Safety Harbor. Espiritu Santo’s state-of-the-art facility continues to shine as new technology is introduced and more tools are provided the students. Our school community’s strong Catholic identity is tangible through the participation in several outreach programs, including working with the “Best Buddies” program, collaborations with Pinellas Hope, and interactions with our sick and homebound population. Students continue to excel academically, physically, and spiritually through their experiences here at ESCS. Since our inception, many students have earned awards in athletics, local and state science fair competitions, the Duke TIP program, and placement on the honor roll. Espiritu Santo students graduate well prepared for academic success and servant leadership. While school advancements continue to grow and change, Espiritu Santo’s total commitment to nurture the whole child through Catholic education remains constant.