(The following is based on the writings and interviews of three eighth grade students: Eli Jones, Becca Smith and Morgan Teel.)
The advantages of Catholic schools that many take for granted became obvious to us when we arrived at John F. Kennedy Catholic School. The academic challenges, the help we receive from the staff and JFK’s unique environment soon made us very happy that our parents decided to enroll us at JFK.
The first thing we noticed were the academic differences and challenges we have at JFK. The content is challenging, and the expectations are high. When we first arrived, for example, students were reviewing last year’s math, and we had no idea how to do these calculations. The daily math drills are challenging and warm up our brains to get ready for the rest of our math class. At JFK, there is a lot more homework than we had before. It is given every day to make sure we understand the skills and lessons we learned and reinforces the material we learn in class. Through learning to take notes in social studies, we are prepared for the future and high school and college.
JFK students are also challenged with many academic projects. Students in grades five through eight write and deliver a three-to-five minute speech each year. This speaking opportunity prepares us for high school and the real world. We also participate in a science fair for which we conduct research, conduct an experiment and write a paper about the whole process. These types of projects were not expected of us at our former schools, but we have learned so much from them. Even an optional activity, such as mock trial, gives students an opportunity to perfect their writing, speaking and organizational skills. This year JFK had three teams in mock trial, and all three advanced to the state level in Des Moines!
It is very obvious that the staff cares about each and every student at JFK. The classes are much smaller so you get individual attention. If you don’t understand something, the teachers will help you until you get it. One-on-one help is not unusual. Teachers are always willing to help you even before school, after school and during recess. They are amazing!
Another thing we noticed was how students treat each other. Students are very friendly and welcoming. One of us came to school when she was in second grade. She was really shy at first, but the girls came up and told her their names. Now they are good friends, and she realizes just how hard it is going to be to leave JFK next year. Kennedy also provides a very safe environment. There are never any fights and hardly ever anything bad happens. JFK has an anti-bullying program and weekly class meetings. The teachers will take care of any problems that might arise because they truly care about us.
In our opinion, JFK is the best school ever. JFK strives to make you a better person – the best you can be. We are glad that we are part of the JFK family.