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.

VOICES of the Web

by Kathleen Rutkowski,

Educational Consultant

Herndon, Virginia

In each issue of MULTIMEDIA SCHOOLS, the VOICES of the Web column highlights exemplary school Web sites that facilitate new communities of learners. Beginning with the September/October 1998 issue and continuing through the May/June 1999 issue, the themes for the year are as follows: parochial schools, special education sites, virtual schools, youth group sites, and international youth project webs. All sites highlighted in this column have been evaluated using the VOICES methodology described in the sidebar on page 78. Please note that this column appears in full text on the Information Today, Inc. Web site (www.infotoday.com/MMSchools) with the featured Web sites hyperlinked. Please send your suggestions and comments to Kathy Rutkowski at kmr@chaos.com.

[Editor's note: URLs mentioned in the text of this article appear in the VOICES of the Web Honor Roll, page 80.]

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. …