Faith interwoven throughout the day at Our Lady of Hope School

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In 1871, two boys in the town of Pontmain, France, saw a vision of Mary. Their parents sent for the local teacher, who brought three schoolchildren with her. Only the youths could see the Blessed Virgin, dressed in a blue garment, covered with golden stars and carrying a red crucifix. As members of the town gathered around the children and began to pray and sing, Prussian troops halted their advance toward the city.

"When we think about Our Lady of Hope, was it not a message of salvation that she brought?" Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde told the students of Our Lady of Hope School in Potomac Falls. "To the people being threatened by the troops entering their border, but even more (she offered) the saving presence of God," he said.

The bishop reminded the students of Mary's desire for each of them to be saved at the March 22 Mass celebrating the school's Blue Ribbon award. "I am so very proud of you," said Bishop Loverde." We are here to thank God for the gift of Catholic schools."

The bishop was joined by Father William P. Saunders, pastor of Our Lady of Hope Church, and Sister Bernadette McManigal, diocesan superintendent of schools.

Our Lady of Hope School was founded in 2005 with the help of Bishop Loverde. In September 2015, the school was awarded the Blue Ribbon for academic excellence by the U.S. Department of Education, ranking them in the top 15 percent of all public and private schools in the nation. To celebrate, the school made special Blue Ribbon buttons and served the students ice cream at lunch.

"We have a very family-friendly school community where everyone gets to know each other," said Mary Beth Pittman, principal of the K-8 school of 215 students. Pittman attributes the success of the school to the active and dedicated parents, the committed faculty and staff and the pupils who love to learn. "We have happy students," she said.

Pittman also spoke of their extracurricular programs, such as Boys and Girls on the Right Track, where students listen to a talk on virtues before running. Pitman is proud of the rigorous academics at the school, including an honors math program, as well as its strong Catholic identity.

"We have a virtue of the month, we go to Mass every Friday and we say prayer together in the morning and at the end of our day. It's not just a religion class; we interweave it throughout the day," she said.

Di Mauro can be reached at zdimauro@catholicherald.com or on Twitter @zoeydimauro.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016