Anchorage academy among nation’s top Catholic schools

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Anchorage’s Holy Rosary Academy is once again back among a select group of U.S. Catholic high schools honored by The Cardinal Newman Society for excellence in Catholic identity and education.

The Cardinal Newman Society is a non-profit organization seeking to renew and strengthen Catholic identity in education. In September it announced the winners of its Catholic High School Honor Roll competition.

A record number of schools applied for this year’s award, which honored 71 schools as “Schools of Excellence.” Holy Rosary was among the 6 percent of applicant schools that received the award.

“These are schools that look to that moral and academic formation that has long been a part of Catholic education,” said Jamie Arthur, a senior fellow at The Cardinal Newman Society. “This is to recognize schools that are faithful to the church and where you have that permeation of Catholic identity.”

From 2004 to 2009 Holy Rosary, a K-12th grade school, received the award — the longest continual accomplishment in the history of the program. In 2012, however, the school was precluded for competition because its high school enrollment was lower than the cutoff. The school did receive “special recognition,” that year for its Catholic identity and civic education.

But with a growing enrollment, which now exceeds 130 students — Holy Rosary was once again eligible for the award.

“It is a great honor to have our work recognized by a national source in a competition that pits us against the finest Catholic schools in the nation,” said Holy Rosary Principal Catherine Neumayr. “To be in their company because an objective source has judged us worthy is an affirmation of our efforts.”

Awarded schools are evaluated on Catholic identity as expressed in curriculum, extracurricular activities, regular school liturgies, retreats and ongoing faith formation opportunities for the wider school community of parents, teachers and staff. The award program also looks at how Catholic teaching is integrated across all academic disciplines including science, literature, social studies and other subject areas.

While The Cardinal Newman Society award aims to help parents evaluate schools for their children, Arthur was quick to note that many quality Catholic schools have not applied for the award recognition.

“This is just one recognition given by Cardinal Newman Society that schools have kind of wrapped their arms around,” she said. “It certainly doesn’t mean that schools that are not on this list are not wonderful Catholic schools.”

She noted that since the award program began 10 years ago, as many as 25 percent of the 1,300 Catholic schools in the nation have applied for the award at least once, and this year there were a record number of applicants.

Principal Neumayr said the award reflects Holy Rosary’s commitment to infuse the curriculum with the “perennial wisdom of the great thinkers and holy popes and doctors of the church.”

“We seek to help the students grow in virtue by constantly choosing the good,” she said. “We know that this will make them good citizens and eventually saints down the road.”


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