DARTMOUTH, Mass. — A tradition that began in 1974, Catholic Schools Week will be celebrated around the country from January 24 through February 1. The Greater New Bedford Catholic schools are no exception and will continue a tradition of their own — the “Catholic Schools Challenge” — where the five Catholic elementary schools in New Bedford, Fairhaven and Acushnet meet at Bishop Stang High School in Dartmouth for a day of fun, faith, and a little bit of competition.

More than 200 seventh- and eighth-grade students will arrive at Bishop Stang High School on January 30 for an early welcome and prayer service. Each elementary school will proudly display its team T-shirt as the students compete in activities such as “Minute-to-Win-It,” “Mission Possible,” Four-on-Four basketball, Improv and Quiz Bowl. Each school receives points as they participate in the activities and a winner is announced at the end of the day. 

While every team wants to win the overall event, the opportunity to meet students from other schools as well as work with a myriad of Bishop Stang students is what keeps this tradition alive and strong. 

Peter Shaughnessy, president and principal of Bishop Stang, said, “We love hosting this event every year — this is our 10th annual Greater New Bedford Catholic Schools Challenge. There is always a great sense of school spirit from the students. The challenge calls forth all of the many intellectual, athletic and creative talents that our Catholic school students possess in a fun and high-energy atmosphere.”

“This is my first year experiencing the Catholic School Challenge and my middle school students have already told me they want to win the trophy,” admits Joe Branco, principal of Holy Family-Holy Name School in New Bedford. “The close collaboration between all of the New Bedford Catholic schools is amazing and I am so blessed to be a part of a larger group of schools with the same mission and focus on educating the whole child, Spiritually and academically.”

Denise Peixoto, a veteran of Catholic education in the Diocese of Fall River and one of the assistant superintendents concluded, “I thoroughly enjoy attending this event and watching the kids put their heart and soul into their school spirit. Catholic Schools Week is a wonderful platform for Catholic schools to showcase the incredible education, academic achievement, and Spiritual development offered by a Catholic education. The rich history along with 21st-century advancements makes Catholic education even more exciting and necessary.”