Keeping the faith in school

By: April Lehmbeck | C&G Newspapers | Published January 25, 2012

 Students at Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Grosse Pointe Woods participate in Mass.

Students at Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Grosse Pointe Woods participate in Mass.

Photo provided by Our Lady Star of the Sea School

Public schools keep religion out of the forefront of education, but many parents want to see religious education, traditions and beliefs at the center of their child’s learning environment.

Those parents can choose schools that keep faith the focus.

Religious schools take several steps to ensure faith ideals are conveyed inside and outside the classroom, including daily religious services.

“At Star of the Sea, our Catholic faith is reinforced first by the witness of our staff and pastor with a commitment to a curriculum centered on the Eucharist,” Our Lady Star of the Sea School Principal Julie Aemisegger and Director of Religious Education Michael King stated in an email. “Attention is given to the whole child, with practical experience to develop academic excellence, respect, responsibility and service as a response to our baptismal call to love others as ourselves.

“We recognize a society in great need of hope,” they said in the email. “We believe that Catholic education is one instrument of hope where we infuse faith and reason in the quest for truth, and the pursuit of truth as an act of love.”

Our Lady Star of the Sea School students participate in daily religious education along with other coursework and faith-based activities at the Grosse Point Woods school.

Austin Catholic Academy in northern Macomb County just opened this year, but has plans to grow its student population next year. It, too, puts religion as the basis of education.

“Every day they’re required to take a religion class for four years for graduation,” said Austin Catholic Academy President Leonard Brillati.

Giving students a faith-based background allows them to “carry it with them for the rest of their lives,” he said.

It also helps foster interest in faith-based careers among young people, who will become the next generation of religious leaders, Brillati added.

Frankel Jewish Academy in West Bloomfield is an example of another school that ensures religion is in the heart of the school’s mission, and religious education is a key part of a student’s academic and extracurricular programs.

“We have an entire Jewish curriculum,” said Frankel Jewish Academy Director of Admissions Rabbi S. Robert Morais.

The extensive education in Judaism that includes Hebrew and Jewish philosophy extends into after-school activities.

“There is a daily prayer service that happens,” Morais said. “There are holiday celebrations.”

This type of religious-based education helps students see themselves as “part of a larger whole,” Morais said.

It helps students better understand who they are as a people, he said.

“Our teachers see themselves not only as conveying information … but also as mentors,” Morais said.

Information about Austin Catholic Academy is available online at, and Frankel Jewish Academy can be found at Our Lady Star of the Sea School is hosting an open house from noon until 2:30 p.m. Jan. 29 for prospective parents, and the school can be found online at