National School Choice Week is in full swing for the next few days, despite the winter weather fighting back and canceling schools across St. Joseph.

The event, which is in its ninth year, has schools across the nation working to increase awareness of the different educational opportunities available to children and their families through events, posters and merchandise.

National School Choice Week isn’t just the name of the seven days in support of these efforts, it’s also an organization that works in all 50 states to promote the importance of choice.

“With the explosion of education options in the last couple of decades, there’s sort of this new generation of parents who have far more (schools) to choose between than their parents and especially their grandparents did,” Shelby Doyle, the director of communications and external relations with the organization, said.

According to an NSCW press release, there are more than 40,000 different events planned across the country to put a spotlight on the organization’s efforts. Here in St. Joseph, three schools are participating in National School Choice Week: Cathedral, Bishop LeBlond and Parkway Elementary.

Doyle said NSCW provides schools with kits that feature banners as well as embroidered yellow scarves for the kids to wear.

“We don’t tell anyone what to plan; we just provide a positive and festive occasion where everyone can celebrate in their own way,” Doyle said. “We invite everybody to celebrate the week and make direct asks. We do make a real effort on our end to make sure that everybody has a seat at the table to use this week to their advantage.”

The organization chose early January to put emphasis on school choice so that families can do their research and sign up for schools before spots are filled and effectively tour the school while it’s still in session.

Cathedral Principal Rebecca Evans said that the timing of the event couldn’t have been more perfect, as it runs right into Catholic Schools Week.

“We really kind of combine the two efforts within our Catholic Schools Week celebration. We do so by promoting our Catholic identity — we start with our community and with our parish,” Evans said. “And with springtime approaching, families are really starting to think about their choices for next year.”

She explained some of the faculty’s plan to honor the students, parents and teachers as well as parishioners through special Masses on Saturday and Sunday.

And as for the yellow scarves, those were donated to the Cathedral Food Pantry for those who needed the extra warmth this week.

For more information on events, a map or list of participating schools, visit schoolchoiceweek.com.

Daniel Cobb can be reached at daniel.cobb@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowCobb.

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