A team from St. Leo Catholic School and another from St. Marys Catholic Middle School took two of the three top spots in “To Know and To Serve”, a religion competition that saw them competing against schools from across the entire Diocese of Erie.
To Know and to Serve, in its tenth year, quizzes teams on a wide variety of topics related to theology, morality, faith formation and Catholic church history. Each school selects a team of five sixth graders, along with two alternates. The teams from SLCS and SMCMS both competed at a regional round at Dubois Area Catholic and advanced to the final round in Erie on April 26. There, each team answered 50 questions. St. James, an elementary school located in Erie, narrowly won first place, but SLCS and SMCMS emerged tied for second. A tiebreaking round of five questions resulted in both schools getting all five correct, so both groups finished tied for second place.
“I was really proud of both schools,” said Elk County Catholic School System president Sam MacDonald. “Luke Daghir and Dori Sekelsky, the students’ religion teachers, did a great job of getting them prepared. For two small schools in the rural part of the diocese to take two of the top three spots is fantastic.”
“I love this competition,” said Fr. Justin Pino, ECCSS Vice President of Catholic Mission. “People understand the value of spelling bees and science fairs. They add an element of friendly competition to the academic setting. It’s fun and it inspires the kids to work hard. This takes a similar approach to our religion courses, and I am really happy to see how well our middle-schoolers performed.”
There is also an element of service added to the competition as each team selects a local service agency to support. St. Leo chose Ridgmont, a 40-resident personal care community in Ridgway, while St. Marys Catholic Middle School chose Penn Highlands Elk Community Nurses Support Services, which aids the elderly and other individuals who are in need of assistance in their homes. The teams perform community service for the organizations, while also committing half of their $100 prize money to them.
Pictured are the ECCSS students who participated in the competition: in the front row (left to right) are SLCS students Mo MacDonald, Percy MacDonald, Noah Cherry, and Thomas Gilmore with SMCMS students Tim Hetrick, Alana Pistner, and Ella Hager. In the back row are SLCS students Josh Williams and Katie Petrosky with SMCMS students Rachel Wolfe, Gracee Breindel, Grace Neubert, and Crystal Hanes. Missing from the photo is St. Leo student Isabella Macer.