From left – Emi, Ellie and Dirina created decorations fashioned from recycled paper during Catholic School Week at St. Peter Catholic School in South Beloit. The week was filled with environmental-themed activities and special programs.

Sunday, Jan. 26 through Saturday, Feb. 1, was National Catholic Schools Week throughout the United States. The annual event celebrates Catholic education.

Children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and their teachers at St. Peter Catholic School in South Beloit participated in special activities throughout the week commemorating the occasion.

The theme of St. Peter’s Catholic School Week was “I am a child of God. As a child of God, I take care of the earth.”

Teachers from the Rockford’s Discovery Center entertained and informed students with science experiments in the school’s gymnasium.

Later in the week, students traveled to Fair Oaks Nursing Home in South Beloit where they serenaded the residents.

Daily activities included environmental stations in each classroom on Monday, recyclable art and STEM activities on Tuesday and a visit to Severson Dells Environmental Outdoor Education Center on Wednesday.

On Thursday, parents and special friends joined the students in celebrating an all -school mass.

On Friday, after the Discovery Center program, students and teachers finished up the week by heading outdoors for snowball competition, s’mores stations and gathering around the fire pits.

Very low enrollment nearly forced the school to close about six years ago. The Catholic Diocese began an effort to re-build.

Beth Heitkamp, a former Hononegah teacher, was tasked with taking on the dual role of principal at St. Peter’s School and at St. Bernadette Catholic School in Rockford.

With effort from South Beloit and surrounding communities as well as the Catholic Diocese, enrollment steadily increased and now stands at 86 students, and continues to grow.

Today, Erica Schwartz is the school principal. Schwartz taught at St. Peter for several years before taking on the leadership role in 2015.

St. Peter School is a private Catholic school, located at 320 Elmwood Ave., South Beloit, Ill.

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