There are a number of great schools in the Capital Region. However, only a few of them are built on the cornerstone of the Catholic faith. Attending a Catho­lic school is something that is incredibly important to my family and is a privilege that I have always appreciated, as I have attended Catholic school for my whole life thus far. At a Catholic school, students are able to receive instruction in the teachings of Holy Mother Church and participate in a number of the sacraments.

Upon reflection, I have come to understand that attending a Catholic school is so much more than what one may learn in the classroom. Of course, educating the mind is held in high regard, yet Catholic education is also about creating a sense of community in an environment of mutual support, respect, and love. Catholic school is about recognizing the inherent dignity and worth of each person through seeing Christ in one another. Catholic education is about putting the faith that we learn about in class and in the sacraments into action by carrying it with us in all of our words and deeds.

At my high school, La Salle Institute in Troy, putting faith into action is paramount to who we are as a school family. There is a wide variety of service activities that students can participate in. Every Wednesday, students are encouraged to bring in canned food, which we donate to a local food pantry. Every Tuesday and Thursday, students can visit and spend time with the elderly at a local nursing home. The Thanksgiving Food Drive and Christmas Toy Drive are also just a few of the many initiatives that students participate in to help support those in need in our local community.

Attending a Catholic school means being part of a family that believes strongly in compassion and understanding. In June of 2016, just days before final exams were to begin, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly. The emotional and spiritual support that I received from the administrators, teachers, and my fellow students was seemingly endless. My school’s administrators and teachers even helped me to rearrange my final exam schedule so that I would be able to attend my grandfather’s funeral and deliver his eulogy.

As I prepare to move away for college and life in the larger world around me, I am thankful for the opportunity to have attended Catholic school all these years. Attending a Catholic school has helped me to become a better disciple of ­Jesus and has been an enormous blessing for my mind, heart and soul.

Connor Patrick is a senior at La Salle Institute in Troy.