Letter: Reflecting on my last Catholic Schools Week

Marking his last year of Catholic Schools Week, Giovanni Nasello, a senior and the student body president at Shanley High school, shares his appreciation for his teachers, classmates and the JPII Catholic Schools community.

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Every year, the last week of January marks Catholic Schools Week, a national celebration by all Catholic schools of the blessing of a Catholic education. For the JPII Schools District in Fargo, this involves special games, activities, classes, dress-up days, service projects, and a grand district-wide Mass with the Bishop. It is a time to reflect and thank God for the opportunity to learn in an environment that cares about all the dimensions of our lives: the physical, mental, social, and, most significantly, spiritual. As I reflect on my Catholic school experience this senior year, I want to share some elements how these schools have shaped numerous youth in our community over the decades.

First, I want to thank my teachers, who are always passionate about what they teach and dedicated to ensuring everyone learns the information. I have always been encouraged to ask questions and make sure I understand everything well, skills I credit to my success. In high school, many teachers host discussion days, when we have civil group conversations on a variety of topics.

Second, I am thankful for the strong community. Being in JPII Schools feels like I am part of one giant family, and I have witnessed this at so many events that bring students, staff, alumni, and future students together to celebrate our schools. Beginning at Nativity Elementary, it was always exciting to have the Shanley students return to visit our classrooms and share their experiences with us. From the start, I knew that I was more than just a student at Nativity – I was part of a community that was happy to have me as a member.

Third, being part of a network means that you have been with many of the same people for over 10 years and having small class sizes means everyone knows each other. This experience has allowed me to become close to so many different people. It doesn’t matter if you’re an academic, an athlete, or a theater kid – everyone knows your name and shares a history together.

Finally, and most importantly, I am thankful for the faith in the schools. I am grateful that I can ask my friends and teachers for their prayers on a test, a sporting event, or the opening night of a play, and I always get a “You betcha” response. I would not have a robust faith in Jesus as my friend right now if not for JPII Schools.


We might have fewer social activities and advanced classes compared to other schools, but this did not stop me from getting into the college of my choice. The transformation I have witnessed in myself and my friends into men and women who are ready to do the Lord’s will in the world is amazing. So, as I celebrate my last Catholic Schools Week as a JPII Schools student, I am grateful for how my Catholic education has shaped me as a whole person, and I know that this experience will continue to shape my life for years to come.

Giovanni Nasello is the student body president at Shanley High School in Fargo.

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