When Nativity Catholic School in Broomfield changed its name to Nativity: Faith & Reason, some parishioners were concerned it meant a backing away from the Catholicity of the school.
Father Michael Carvill, the parish’s pastor, assured them the opposite was true.
“The title ‘Faith & Reason’ comes from the encyclical letter of John Paul II Fides et Ratio,” said Father Carvill. “It’s something that St. John Paul II saw as a vital part of the way the faith has to present itself in the world.”
Father Carvill hopes the name change will help the students realize something very special.
“The kids need to learn not that religion is something you do at certain moments, but they need to learn that it’s in the very fabric of life,” he said.
“The Catholicity of the school has to be in the DNA of every moment.”
Two pillars inspire ‘dynamic place of dialogue’
Nativity: Faith & Reason has big dreams for students who pass through its doors.
“We’re hoping that slowly, the classroom becomes a more dynamic place of dialogue,” said principal Holly Peterson. “It can’t take place in a traditional education where I speak, you write, you learn, and you test.”
This is Peterson’s first year as active principal, and she brings with her an expansive background in education. Her hope is that Nativity will be a place where children are encouraged to ask questions, so they don’t simply learn about the faith and the subjects they study, but they actually own and carry them throughout their lives.
Peterson is joined by seven new teachers and an all-new office staff. But the foundation laid by Kathy Shadel, who served at the school for 44 years as a teacher and eventually the principal, has helped the school transition smoothly into these changes, said Peterson.
The desire to focus on faith and reason came out of the archdiocesan symposium on education held a few years ago that encouraged school leaders to implement a value proposition, said Father Carvill.
Rather than choose a classical or STEM approach, Nativity wanted to offer something different.
The Catholicity of the school has to be in the DNA of every moment.”
“We want to give [the students] a critical ability to question, verify and discover the truth for themselves of the proposals that we make to them,” he said.
“It’s only verified conviction that will carry the kids in a world in which everything is saying the opposite to the faith.”
The school also wanted to fulfill needs families have today. Two important new offerings are before and after school care and a preschool, which were both created to alleviate families particularly where both parents work.
“In the 21st century, you’re speaking to a different audience than when I began teaching 30 plus years ago,” said Peterson. “We saw [those features] as necessary to meet the needs of our new families coming in.”
The school is also accommodating students with a new look both outside and inside the building — fresh paint, logos and modern updates — that serve to create a sleek, welcoming environment.
Katie Mikesell, Nativity’s Director of Marketing, is most excited about those updates, which she hopes will inspire the students to strive for excellence.
“It looks bright, and I’m excited to get kids in here and have that energy fill the hallways,” she said.
Mikesell hopes Nativity will continue to be a home away from home for its students.
“It should feel that inviting,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to getting them in here and showing off all the changes that have been made to make their educational experience better.”
Aside from the positive environment, Peterson wants the students to feel cared for in an even more important way.
“We don’t want the kids to be measured here according to what they’re able to do,” she said. “You’re measured by the one who made you. You are a piece of the glory of God; you’re a masterpiece of the glory of God, as John Paul would say.
It looks bright, and I’m excited to get kids in here and have that energy fill the hallways.”
“So, how can we help kids grow and learn in an environment where they feel safe, they feel loved, and they learn the skills they’re going to need for their lives?”
Those are challenges Nativity: Faith & Reason hopes to meet head on in the next few years as new changes and features are implemented.
Father Carvill hopes for a smooth transition so the school “can really roll up our sleeves and begin to do the work of bringing this faith and reason into the very core of everything that we’re doing.”