Across all 15 Independence Mission Schools, the highlight of the month of January was Catholic Schools Week (CSW) – an annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States. From celebrating Mass to fun activities and events for students, families, parishioners and community members, the week long-celebration focused on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to Church, local communities and the nation.
One of the highlight’s of the week was when the Kindergarten class at St. Thomas of Aquinas Catholic School, IMS honored police officers from the Philadelphia Police Department’s 17th District. The school day started out with the kindergartners decorating the classroom and giving Officer James Lippi and other officers from the 17th District some very thoughtful gifts as a thank you for all they do in their neighborhood and at their school.
Little did they know that Officer Lippi, who spends three days a week with the kindergarteners, had some very special surprises in store for them as well. The morning began with a visit from “Ralph” the K-9 Officer who works for the 17th District. Ralph showed up in his police vest (and a big smile) and let all of children pet him and give him a treat or two.
The presentation was all part of the Families Behind the Badge Foundation (formerly known as the Tour de Shore Children’s Foundation’s) Police Youth Alliance (PYA) program. PYA is an after-school program that features activities such as chess, step dance, drumline, art, carpentry and reading. The programs are taught by uniformed police officers in each school’s corresponding police district in an effort build better relationships with the neighborhoods they serve. This school year, 12 of our 15 Independence Mission Schools are being enriched with 29 different after-school programs.