Building a Global Parish: Parochial Schools on the Web

Article excerpt

The three parochial sites highlighted in this column serve to demonstrate the power of the Web to promote a religious education and to build a religious community.

The World Wide Web provides a new medium for parochial schools to build support for religious education at local and global levels. Most religious schools are using the Web for the same purposes as other private schools-to provide information about the academic program, social life, activities, tuition, and admissions policies of the school. Like public schools, parochial school Web sites highlight student work, solicit project partners from around the world, and provide communications to parents. Some are using the Web to build a global parish composed of students, parents, alumni, and faculty and staff; others are interested in a sectarian education. For all of these schools, the Web serves as a virtual gathering place in which to share religious thoughts and experiences and to build common traditions and values.

In researching this column, I visited a number of parochial school Web sites. There are sites that are affiliated with most major religious groups-Jewish, Catholic, Christian, and Islamic. These schools are located around the globe in virtually every continent, from Europe to North America, from Asia to Australia and New Zealand, from South America to Africa. Many of the schools are inter-denominational and they have a diverse student body drawn from all over the globe. Some of these sites-particularly the elementary schools-are primarily intended for a local community and are more truly "parochial."

The three parochial sites highlighted in this column serve to demonstrate the power of the Web to promote a religious education and to build a religious community.

ARCHBISHOP CARROLL HIGH SCHOOL

WASHINGTON, DC

"Education for the Future, Faith for a Lifetime," the motto of the Archbishop Carroll High School, a Catholic parochial school, is well represented by this outstanding school Web site. This is a site for and about a community of students, teachers, administrators, parents, alumni, and others who care about quality education, lifetime achievement, and, above all, the power of faith. The smiling faces of students and staff displayed in the Web photography, the cordial invitations to participate in student and community activities, and the letters and descriptive text genuinely appear to come from the heart of this community and not from the machinations of a high-powered public relations or Web design firm.

The Archbishop Carroll Internet Interns, a group of highly motivated and talented Carroll students (read their bios at http://www.ee.cua.edu/ -carroll/index.htm) maintain the site. They are supervised by the master Web designer, Mr. Nathan C. Weber, an administrator and Technology Teacher; Ms. Mayme Jiles, Science Department Head; and Mr. James Mumford, Principal. The Web design is original-an intriguing mix of the stately and the cybercool. The main page is divided into two frames. The left-hand frame serves as a hot link area to what's new on the site, news about the school, and links to useful external sites. There is a welcoming tag line on the bottom of the page. The main frame is dominated by a Web content imagemap. The Carroll Web is "blink-free," but has lots of interaction and animations to entertain the cybergeneration of young learners and their parents.

The content is well organized and effectively targets potential users of the site. There is useful information for parents about the school's mission, purpose, history, and admissions procedures-including an online application. Alumni can submit information about themselves and find out about upcoming school events and major school policies. Prospective students can find useful information about academic programs, athletics, and student life, plus there is a homework resource page and online guidance for current students. …