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School reflects values of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

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In 1810, Elizabeth Ann Seton did something completely unthinkable for women at the time. She founded the first free Catholic school for girls in the United States, in the rural town of Emmitsburg, Md. Girls whose families couldn’t afford an education now had a chance to learn.

Many Catholic schools trace their founding to Elizabeth Ann Seton’s efforts, including Seton School in Manassas. Seton School was founded by Anne and the late Warren Carroll in 1975, the year that Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized. Today, the school serves about 350 students in grades 7-12, and offers a wide variety of programs to provide their students with a Catholic liberal arts education.

The school purposely maintains an enrollment of around 350 students in order to preserve its smaller size. “The smaller size provides students with individual attention from teachers, and gives students the opportunity to know all their classmates,” said Carroll.

Just as Elizabeth Ann Seton welcomed students from families of all income levels at her school, so too does Seton School. “No student is turned away for inability to pay,” said Anne Carroll. The school offers a work-study program for families to help pay for tuition.

God's grace and the promise of eternal salvation guided St. Elizabeth Ann Seton's life, and these beliefs also guide Seton School. Catholic truths are integrated throughout the school’s curriculum. Carroll wrote the history book that the school uses so that church history could be woven into the history curriculum. In addition, the teachers and staff take an oath of loyalty to the magisterium of the church every year. The school strives to integrate the Catholic faith into each student’s life.

During Catholic Schools Week, Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of Arlington and across the country highlight all that makes them unique. Seton’s swim team, the school’s largest athletic team, welcomes all students who sign up. The swim coach guides the team using a value system called GEMS — gratitude, excellence, meekness and sacrifice. Meekness may be an uncommon value for an athletic team; it encourages swimmers to help competitors over the bar they raised by winning. GEMS has led to the team’s success not only in individual swimmers beating personal records, but also in winning championships.

Seton School makes an annual pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg every year. At the shrine, they pray and thank St. Elizabeth Ann Seton for her intercession with the school and their lives. It’s a tremendous experience for the students to see where their school’s patron saint lived and worked, and is now buried. Mass, Confession, retreats and tours are just some of the activities available to groups visiting. Earlier in January, groups and individual pilgrims were on-site to celebrate the saint’s feast day Jan. 4.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton strived to do God’s will in all her work, no matter what the task. Seton School encourages its students to do the same. One of Elizabeth Ann Seton’s quotes is used often by the school: “Let His will of the present moment be the first rule of our daily life and work.”

Jahn is marketing manager for the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Find out more

For more on Seton School, go to setonschool.net. For more on the shrine, go to setonshrine.org.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020