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Jonathan.Bentz
07-27-2012, 04:44 AM
Hi, I'm setting the third book in a series of novellas I'm writing (the Predator & Prey series) around a Catholic high school, but I have limited knowledge in this regard except for the fact that they're run by reverends, nuns, and have groundskeepers. The killer I'm giving this novel is a groundskeeper, but I'm wondering a few things:

Do Catholic high schools hire their groundskeepers from within their congregations?

If so, what kind of background checks do they do?

I understand that some Catholic High Schools require uniforms (slacks and dress shirt for boys; skirts, choice of nylons or knee socks, and blouse/blazers for girls). Is there a difference (such a boarding versus day school), or not?

How often, when an investigation becomes based around these schools, do they close ranks? Do they protect mainly the reverends/priests and the nuns, or all employees? (I'm not trying to be an irritant, but I've watched too many SVU episodes and I want to make sure there's at least some resemblance to reality in those 'schools close ranks' cases).

Do Catholic High schools often have a security system of any kind, or if its a community they consider trustworthy do they not go for that expense? (A good number of the victims are abducted by the killer either on the grounds or nearby).

Those are all the questions I can think of for now. But any information would be greatly appreciated. For these types of things, you have to be as accurate as possible. I could probably get away with that launcher thing I mentioned in another thread, but stuff like the rules and regulations of a Catholic High School and how they deal with security and with police investigations? Best to do as much research as possible.

Obviously, I'm not Catholic, but I try to respect all religions and their tenets, even if sometimes I think they exist merely to stonewall. (Yeah, I know, I sound really neutral. In essence, I follow a code of 'To each their own', even if I think something is a bit off). Therefore, I want to make sure I get as much accuracy as I can.

MattW
07-27-2012, 05:08 AM
Catholic schools are mostly run/administrated by laypeople nowadays.

There is usally a priest on staff as the chaplain (possibly part-time), but often as a teacher too. Depending on the area and the size of the school, there can be zero to a dozen nuns on staff as well.

My experience at the high school level is that the students do not come from one congregation, but many within that particular diocese. The families would attend their regular church as a primary worship, and religious education would be at the school. Depending on the area and density of Catholics, a small high school could be attached to a single congregation.

For your specific questions, a groundskeeper would probably be hired as someone in the congregation knew of the opening and someone in need, but not always. Could be as big as professional lanscaping crew, or as simple as an on-site caretaker/security/odd-jobs/maintenence/groundskeeper-type.

Uniforms are pretty standard. Some flexibility in choices, but colors, crests, and overall look are codified like you mentioned.

Security I cannot guess at - I the last time I stepped inside a Catholics school was in the 90s. But it would probably depend on the community - religious schools are not isolated that much from the communities they reside in.

Also around closing ranks - you would see a spectrum of reactions. Some would never conceive of an attacker from within, others would have doubts, some would defend the school, and others might overreact in accusatory ways due to recent disillusionment with Church policies or actions. Take whatever paths you need for the story, but make it convincing (and misleading if necessary!)

Jonathan.Bentz
07-27-2012, 05:24 AM
Catholic schools are mostly run/administrated by laypeople nowadays.

There is usally a priest on staff as the chaplain (possibly part-time), but often as a teacher too. Depending on the area and the size of the school, there can be zero to a dozen nuns on staff as well.

My experience at the high school level is that the students do not come from one congregation, but many within that particular diocese. The families would attend their regular church as a primary worship, and religious education would be at the school. Depending on the area and density of Catholics, a small high school could be attached to a single congregation.

For your specific questions, a groundskeeper would probably be hired as someone in the congregation knew of the opening and someone in need, but not always. Could be as big as professional lanscaping crew, or as simple as an on-site caretaker/security/odd-jobs/maintenence/groundskeeper-type.

Uniforms are pretty standard. Some flexibility in choices, but colors, crests, and overall look are codified like you mentioned.

Security I cannot guess at - I the last time I stepped inside a Catholics school was in the 90s. But it would probably depend on the community - religious schools are not isolated that much from the communities they reside in.

Also around closing ranks - you would see a spectrum of reactions. Some would never conceive of an attacker from within, others would have doubts, some would defend the school, and others might overreact in accusatory ways due to recent disillusionment with Church policies or actions. Take whatever paths you need for the story, but make it convincing (and misleading if necessary!)

Thanks for the info. That's pretty much in line with what I'd already written, but I wanted to be sure. Last thing I need a complete screw up and have people sending me reviews along the lines of 'Clearly you don't know anything about Catholic schools, why don't you do a regular private school isntead?' Of course, I'm sure I'll get reviews like that anyways when I release it (which I'm aiming to do in either Dec. 2012 or Jan. 2013, since I plan to release the one before it (Volume II) in either September or October.

Thanks again for the info.

Duncan J Macdonald
07-27-2012, 06:58 AM
Hi, I'm setting the third book in a series of novellas I'm writing (the Predator & Prey series) around a Catholic high school, but I have limited knowledge in this regard except for the fact that they're run by reverends, nuns, and have groundskeepers. The killer I'm giving this novel is a groundskeeper, but I'm wondering a few things:

Another set of data points for you. I attended a Catholic High School (all four years) back in 1972-1975, so this information is dated. I offer it with a fairly large grain of salt.


Do Catholic high schools hire their groundskeepers from within their congregations?

If so, what kind of background checks do they do?

Mine didn't. Of course, the school wasn't affiliated with any particular parish either. It was run by the Dioceses (a religious area administered by a bishop -- can have many parishes in it), and maintenance staff was hired from local contractors, by bid.


I understand that some Catholic High Schools require uniforms (slacks and dress shirt for boys; skirts, choice of nylons or knee socks, and blouse/blazers for girls). Is there a difference (such a boarding versus day school), or not?

When I attended, we didn't have a uniform, but we did have to wear jacket and tie (a suit, or a blazer with dress slacks, shirt, and a tie). The school was also all male (except for some of the lay teachers). The local girls Catholic High School had uniforms -- mainly to keep hems at the appropriate length, and to ward off thin or sheer blouses.


How often, when an investigation becomes based around these schools, do they close ranks? Do they protect mainly the reverends/priests and the nuns, or all employees? (I'm not trying to be an irritant, but I've watched too many SVU episodes and I want to make sure there's at least some resemblance to reality in those 'schools close ranks' cases).

Never had a case where closing of the ranks applied. All of the religious faculty were priests/brothers, but not all of the same order. Of the lay faculty, not everyone was Roman Catholic, nor male.


Do Catholic High schools often have a security system of any kind, or if its a community they consider trustworthy do they not go for that expense? (A good number of the victims are abducted by the killer either on the grounds or nearby).

No more security than any other school did at the time. No guards, no metal detectors, no alarm systems. Of course, the religious faculty lived on site, up on the third floor, so there was always the possibility of some one wandering around. That and the various sports and other activities made use of the building every weekend and most evenings during the week.


Those are all the questions I can think of for now. But any information would be greatly appreciated. For these types of things, you have to be as accurate as possible. I could probably get away with that launcher thing I mentioned in another thread, but stuff like the rules and regulations of a Catholic High School and how they deal with security and with police investigations? Best to do as much research as possible.

Obviously, I'm not Catholic, but I try to respect all religions and their tenets, even if sometimes I think they exist merely to stonewall. (Yeah, I know, I sound really neutral. In essence, I follow a code of 'To each their own', even if I think something is a bit off). Therefore, I want to make sure I get as much accuracy as I can.

If you run with "They all closed ranks and declared the detectives heretics and excommunicated them" there will be those who believe you. If you run with "Hey, it's like PS 103 back in Brooklyn, except without the rocket launchers" there will be those who believe that too.

Might I suggest looking up a Catholic High School near you and giving them a call?

cornflake
07-27-2012, 10:08 AM
Hi, I'm setting the third book in a series of novellas I'm writing (the Predator & Prey series) around a Catholic high school, but I have limited knowledge in this regard except for the fact that they're run by reverends, nuns, and have groundskeepers. The killer I'm giving this novel is a groundskeeper, but I'm wondering a few things:

Do Catholic high schools hire their groundskeepers from within their congregations?

If so, what kind of background checks do they do?

I understand that some Catholic High Schools require uniforms (slacks and dress shirt for boys; skirts, choice of nylons or knee socks, and blouse/blazers for girls). Is there a difference (such a boarding versus day school), or not?

How often, when an investigation becomes based around these schools, do they close ranks? Do they protect mainly the reverends/priests and the nuns, or all employees? (I'm not trying to be an irritant, but I've watched too many SVU episodes and I want to make sure there's at least some resemblance to reality in those 'schools close ranks' cases).

Do Catholic High schools often have a security system of any kind, or if its a community they consider trustworthy do they not go for that expense? (A good number of the victims are abducted by the killer either on the grounds or nearby).

Those are all the questions I can think of for now. But any information would be greatly appreciated. For these types of things, you have to be as accurate as possible. I could probably get away with that launcher thing I mentioned in another thread, but stuff like the rules and regulations of a Catholic High School and how they deal with security and with police investigations? Best to do as much research as possible.

Obviously, I'm not Catholic, but I try to respect all religions and their tenets, even if sometimes I think they exist merely to stonewall. (Yeah, I know, I sound really neutral. In essence, I follow a code of 'To each their own', even if I think something is a bit off). Therefore, I want to make sure I get as much accuracy as I can.

Reverends, nuns and groundskeepers? Twelve years of Catholic school and the only one of those I ever ran into was nuns, heh.

Are you talking about boarding schools? I don't really know of any Catholic boarding schools, though I presume they exist someplace... I know of a lot of Catholic schools but they're all just regular schools, so I may not be of help if you're looking for Catholic boarding experience. I know a number of people who've attended boarding schools, but none were Catholic.

All Catholic schools I have experience with (not just the ones I attended but those friends did, others in the area and ones I know of now), require uniforms.

Many, though not all Catholic high schools are single-sex, just btw.

Reverend isn't a Catholic title, they're priests, brothers, bishops, cardinals, etc.

As above, the schools are run by the diocese, but also may be run by a certain order. Some orders are traditionally concerned with education, like jesuits, ursuline nuns, etc., and often run schools.

I don't know what I could tell you that'd be helpful as you seem to be using a boarding school. As to the 'closing ranks' thing, not really? The sex abuse scandal aside, a school wouldn't hesitate to call the cops in my experience. Also as someone else mentioned, there are plenty of lay teachers and others running around - and not all students are Catholic.

I think, based on the reverend and stonewalling thing you may be thinking more of other religions and conflating. There's certainly a ton of dogma in the RCC and I'm not discounting the horror that is/was the abuse that has gone on - but Catholicism is fairly well integrated with the world, education-wise.

The church embraces evolution as fact; science classes are regular, mainstream science. I had plenty more than one religion teacher (which was 90% of the time a nun, priest or brother), explain and open debate on how Bible passages could be interpreted, as it was not meant to be taken literally, etc. I know you didn't ask that sortof thing and you may know all this already, just in case, based on a bit of the stuff you said...

Trebor1415
07-27-2012, 11:10 AM
My Catholic school was mixed gender.

Is it a regular school, or a boarding school? What you are describing has more of a "Catholic boarding school" or even "1950's Catholic school" feel than a contemporary, non boarding, Catholic High School.

GeorgeK
07-27-2012, 08:14 PM
What is the setting regarding time, religious order, country, city, tuition etc? There's a lot of variables

My high school was rather nepotistic in that they preferentially hired teachers from the religious order that supposedly ran things and as far as lay teachers, preferentially hired alumni. The result was inferior teachers and when I got to the university I realized that no matter how often we were told in HS that we were getting a better education than public school students, most of the people from HS struggled in college.

There was closing of the ranks during investigations. There were allegations of pedophelia and looking back on it, probably were genuine. This was long before the sex abuse scandal surfaced. There were assemblies where students were not named, but were generally frowned upon if any allegations against a priest, brother or nun were accused of anything and the clergy were basically presented as sacrosanct. Other students were warned to, "watch out," for instigators, which did not result in fights but did result in some ostracism. There were also under cover police posing as students supposedly. Security now includes metal detectors but when I was there it was the vice principal and a couple teachers watching people as they entered and at 6PM if there were no extracurricular activities in the academic building they released the hounds. The dogs were guard dogs trained to a litterbox that the night janitor removed before the building was opened the next day. They were not drug sniffing dogs. Few students ever saw the hounds or the night janitor. There were rumors that the night janitor might help himself to a portion of a student's supply of contraband in their locker. Since I never had contraband and did not associate with that sort of student, it is only heresay. There were alarms on the offices, the computer room and exit doors that were turned on at 6 PM as well. The athletic annex didn't get the hounds and didn't have alarms as far as I know, but there were a lot of external lights.

shaldna
07-28-2012, 12:25 AM
Hi, I'm setting the third book in a series of novellas I'm writing (the Predator & Prey series) around a Catholic high school, but I have limited knowledge in this regard except for the fact that they're run by reverends, nuns, and have groundskeepers.

Not often now TBH.

Most catholic schools have laymen teachers - often they will have a resident priest - NOT a reverend, but not necessarily any other religious figures on staff. Here, and I'm not sure where your story is set, but when you have a school taught by nuns or monks (Sisters and Brothers respectively) they tend to be single sex - I have a couple of friends who went to Convent schools, and while some of their teachers were nuns, others weren't.

In terms of groundskeepers - unless the school is situated on site of a monestary or convent, then it's unlikley to need a groundskeeper and, especially in the case of modern schools, be more likely to have a team of caretakers instead.


The killer I'm giving this novel is a groundskeeper, but I'm wondering a few things:

Do Catholic high schools hire their groundskeepers from within their congregations?

In my experience because a school has to meet all the regualtions and legal requirements set out in law, when it comes to recruitment the position has to be publically advertised and open to all applicants. Now, the sucessful applicant could well end up being from the congregation. A point to note is that appointments to individual schools are done at the education board and school board level and so a body of individuals is responsible, not a single person.


If so, what kind of background checks do they do?

Standard background checks - primarily criminal - obviously the person would be working with or in close poximity to children, so this is taken pretty seriously. Failure to declare ANYTHING can lead to instant dismissal - ie. I've had to declare my driving convictions when I went for teaching jobs.


I understand that some Catholic High Schools require uniforms (slacks and dress shirt for boys; skirts, choice of nylons or knee socks, and blouse/blazers for girls). Is there a difference (such a boarding versus day school), or not?

Again, dependant on setting, but here all schools have uniforms - both boys and girls wear a tie. Some of the local Catholic schools have adopted an ankle length skirt as part of the uniform.

In terms of boarders - at my brothers school you had to wear your uniform during the day, but in the evenings could change and at weekends. When out of the school during term time - such as afterschool, lunch etc, they had to wear their school uniform at all times.



How often, when an investigation becomes based around these schools, do they close ranks? Do they protect mainly the reverends/priests and the nuns, or all employees? (I'm not trying to be an irritant, but I've watched too many SVU episodes and I want to make sure there's at least some resemblance to reality in those 'schools close ranks' cases).

Schools are like any workplace - there may be some level of 'closing ranks' but on the whole most folk won't want to be associated with any wrongdoing because their careers will be over too.

When I was at school there were a few controversies surrounding staff - and it was all pretty open and the folks involved were punished/suspended/fired as appropriate - they even wrote to our parents to keep them informed of developments.

Remember that, unless it's a criminal investigation, any initial invesitgation will be done by the education board /authorites - think of them as the Spanish Inquisition of the education system.


Do Catholic High schools often have a security system of any kind, or if its a community they consider trustworthy do they not go for that expense? (A good number of the victims are abducted by the killer either on the grounds or nearby).

I'll be honest - I don't really like the way you are separating Catholic education from other schools - Catholic schools are SCHOOLS first and foremost - they operate and fucntion just like any other school, they just happen to have a greater emphasis on religion than other schools do. Try to keep that in mind.

All schools will have some form of security system because their insurance will dictate it.

And trust me on this from experience - NO SCHOOL considers it's students or the local community to be trustworthy enough NOT to have a security system.


Obviously, I'm not Catholic, but I try to respect all religions and their tenets, even if sometimes I think they exist merely to stonewall.

Obviously, because you are showing a startling amount of ignorance here. I don't necessarily mean that as an attack, but whether you realise it or not, you are treating it as a 'them and us' situation - and you seem, from your questions, to have some pretty odd and many cliched ideas about what goes on at a Catholic school - here's the thing, it's the SAME as any other school - they have a curriculum to follow, the education board to please, parents wanting results, children wanting to go to university. The only difference I have encountered in both my teaching experience and the fact that my daughter goes to a Catholic school, is that there is a bigger emphasis placed on religion - they have daily prayers, Mass every week and are taught and prepared for Holy Communion as part of school. But in all other ways they are just the same - they study the same syllabus, sit the same exams etc.

For the record, my daughters school is located on church grounds. They have a caretaker at the school, and another for the church itself. Once a week a gardener comes and tends to the grass. There are cleaners who deal with both buildings. Nothing fancy.

shaldna
07-28-2012, 12:31 AM
- and not all students are Catholic.


This also - at my daughter's school about 30% of the students aren't Catholic.

jaksen
07-28-2012, 05:27 AM
You might do better to set this story in an 'ordinary' high school, or one with which you have intimate knowledge. (Like, base it on a school you attended.)

I wrote a short story which was partially set in a Catholic boarding school and I did a ton of research first, plus I asked for advice from friends who attended similar schools. (And this was for a short story.)

The details were the killers. In my story most of the teachers were nuns, although today many are lay teachers. (I know one school where one of the teachers wasn't even a Catholic, but shhhh, don't tell the parents.)

Anyhow, with this kind of story, in this type of setting, it's going to be all in the details.

shaldna
07-28-2012, 10:51 AM
In my story most of the teachers were nuns, although today many are lay teachers. (I know one school where one of the teachers wasn't even a Catholic, but shhhh, don't tell the parents.)


This is something else to note - back in the day anyone could teach, you didn't have to have qualifications. Nowadays you have to have a teaching degree or a PGCE before you are going to be let anywhere NEAR a classroom.

While there are a surprising amount of young nuns and priests going through higher education and getting a degree etc, it's nowhere near enough to fill the gap, and so more and more laymen are drafted in.

jaksen
07-29-2012, 01:51 AM
This is something else to note - back in the day anyone could teach, you didn't have to have qualifications. Nowadays you have to have a teaching degree or a PGCE before you are going to be let anywhere NEAR a classroom.

While there are a surprising amount of young nuns and priests going through higher education and getting a degree etc, it's nowhere near enough to fill the gap, and so more and more laymen are drafted in.

This may be true in some locales, but in at least one school near Boston the teachers are not all qualified. When the teacher I mentioned left for a job in a public school, her replacement was a high school graduate.

Yeah, so there's a great deal of leeway here, in who teachers what, where, when, etc. The teacher I am referring to also taught religious education.

cornflake
07-29-2012, 02:03 AM
This may be true in some locales, but in at least one school near Boston the teachers are not all qualified. When the teacher I mentioned left for a job in a public school, her replacement was a high school graduate.

Yeah, so there's a great deal of leeway here, in who teachers what, where, when, etc. The teacher I am referring to also taught religious education.

That tends to be different, as it's not a class that colleges require, so it doesn't matter academically. Almost all the religion classes I had were taught by nuns, brothers or priests, for obvious reasons. Also some other classes particular to Catholic school that have no academic merit (moral decisions class ftw!) were taught by those with less academic backgrounds.

Though some of the nuns/priests/etc. who taught religion were well-educated and credentialed. Same as Latin; iirc one of the priests who taught that I *think* had a degree in it but perhaps not one in pedagogy but the other Latin teacher was a lay language teacher with all such relevant degrees. Latin in the schools I'm familiar with wasn't a foreign language, you had to choose from a 'live' language in addition, but Latin was a requirement nonetheless.

Hilldawg
07-30-2012, 04:51 AM
Do Catholic high schools hire their groundskeepers from within their congregations?

If so, what kind of background checks do they do?

Uniforms?

How often, when an investigation becomes based around these schools, do they close ranks? Do they protect mainly the reverends/priests and the nuns, or all employees?

Do Catholic High schools often have a security system of any kind, or if its a community they consider trustworthy do they not go for that expense?


Hi, I went to an all girls Catholic high school in Louisville, KY in the 90's so I can tell you about my experience there. I'll answer below:

Employees, including groundskeepers do not need to be from their congregation. My gradeschool was associated with a parish and had a congregation but my highschool didn't. Also, only about two of my teachers were nuns, the rest were regular people, not all of them Catholics. But some schools do reserve the right to hire only Catholics.

Background checks for all employees are the same and are usually dictated by state guidelines for anyone working in a school.

Uniforms are required (at all the Catholic schools I knew about). At my school we had the choice between a shirt or pants. We had to wear either white polo t-shirts or white oxford dress shirts. The color of the skirt depends on the school. My school required navy blue - others used plaid. We were supposed to wear dress-shoes and our skirts could not be two inches above our knees. Shirts tucked in at all times. At the beginning of each day, during our 20 minutes or so of homeroom, we had to stand for inspection. We could wear whatever jewelry we wanted but we could not dye our hair.

Catholic highschools respond to investigations in the same way that public schools might. However, if the high school has children of celebrities and politicians, there might be more "closed ranks."

Security systems usually depend on where the school is located and what type of "clientele" (see above) attend school. My school had locked front doors and a policy requiring all visitors to check in at the office. They could not roam the halls without a guide.

Hope that helps! Feel free to message me with more questions if you want.

Hillary

jaksen
07-30-2012, 10:40 PM
That tends to be different, as it's not a class that colleges require, so it doesn't matter academically. Almost all the religion classes I had were taught by nuns, brothers or priests, for obvious reasons. Also some other classes particular to Catholic school that have no academic merit (moral decisions class ftw!) were taught by those with less academic backgrounds.

Though some of the nuns/priests/etc. who taught religion were well-educated and credentialed. Same as Latin; iirc one of the priests who taught that I *think* had a degree in it but perhaps not one in pedagogy but the other Latin teacher was a lay language teacher with all such relevant degrees. Latin in the schools I'm familiar with wasn't a foreign language, you had to choose from a 'live' language in addition, but Latin was a requirement nonetheless.


The teacher in my post taught math and science, as well as religion. She had a Master's in Math Education. When she left to teach at a public school, her replacement was a high school grad.

Nothing wrong with being a high school grad. - not saying that at all. But the replacement had never been to college, had no experience teaching anything. She was just a mother who wanted to help out.

When I questioned this - as I would; it seemed odd to me as this particular Catholic school had a great reputation - I was told, that's how they do things, plus there's only half a year of school left. They'll get a 'real teacher' next fall. But, I heard this was standard practice and now I am sorry for totally derailing this thread.

The teacher in ques. btw is related to me and that's all I'll say about who she is. She now teaches in yet a diff. public school.

Edit add: But I think the point here is to know your subject as well as you can. If you plan to use as a background a very specific type of location, research it as much as possible. (Which I guess the op is doing by starting this thread.) Catholic schools, like any other kind of school, can vary a great deal from school to school.

areteus
07-31-2012, 04:09 PM
There is a lot of variance in Catholic schools, like many other faith schools they have certain freedoms in how they teach and who they hire but I think that they are still bound by similar laws and guidelines to regular high schools....

The days of brutal nuns dishing out punishment are long gone because many of the punishments will be illegal (they are in this country, I assume the same applies there) just as the days of 'figging' and teacher approved prefect brutality are long gone in Public schools in this country.

Modern catholic schools are likely to be run in more or less the same way as any other modern high school in that they will have hired professional staff based on their qualifications and suitability rather than their religion (though they are technically forbidden from excluding any applicant regardless of their religion, many still find excuses to not employ protestants or other religions). The only appreciable difference will be that there is a priest (or a series of priests taking turns, usually from the local churches) who comes in to do Mass every week (in my school it was a wednesday lunchtime) and that the PHSE/Citizenship/tutorial teaching is heavily Catholic influenced (i.e they are leery of contraception....). There may also be uniform and some of the teachers will either be lay members of the church or priests/nuns.

As for background checks... well in the modern day, post paedophillia scares, I imagine these will be quite strict. Even before the big scandals in the UK they checked references carefully and did police check and now these are tighter.

However, if he has not been charged with a crime then he will not show up on a basic police check (which essentially sees if you have a criminal record). The current enhanced one in the UK goes further (they find out where you have been living in the last five years and ring up the police in that area and ask if you have ever been involved in a crime in any way at all - i.e. maybe brought in and interviewed but not charged*). Again, most people are likely safe from that if they have never committed a crime or been careful to stay out of the way of the investigation.

Of course, if the school is feeling charitable it can decide to give someone with a small blemish on his record a 'second chance' though I don't know if any would take the risk.Though they may for someone they knew...

*This was because the Soham murders were committed by a man who had been interviewed for a similar offense in the past involving children but not formally charged and so was able to get a job in a school... now this is not possible... at least they hope.

shaldna
07-31-2012, 06:18 PM
That tends to be different, as it's not a class that colleges require, so it doesn't matter academically.

Actually, some colleges DO require you to have an academic qualification in Relgion - one of the teaching colleges here requires it and it's taught as part of the teacher training as well.

Also, should be noted that, here at least, Religion can be taught as both an academic qualification and as a non-academic, non-examinable subject - our school taught it to everyone as a matter of course, but unless you specifically took a GCSE or A level in it then you didn't sit exams etc.

cornflake
07-31-2012, 06:47 PM
Actually, some colleges DO require you to have an academic qualification in Relgion - one of the teaching colleges here requires it and it's taught as part of the teacher training as well.

Also, should be noted that, here at least, Religion can be taught as both an academic qualification and as a non-academic, non-examinable subject - our school taught it to everyone as a matter of course, but unless you specifically took a GCSE or A level in it then you didn't sit exams etc.

Taught or required as part of the college or uni curriculum I'd understand but I hadn't heard of it being required as a h.s. course for university acceptance. At least here, that's not the case anyplace I've ever heard of.

Most colleges/unis here require like, 3 years maths, 3 or 4 years science, 4 years English literature, 3 years of a foreign language, etc., to apply. No religion requirement.

jaksen - Ah, I misunderstood. Yikes. That'd be disturbing. I know a lot of places have much lower standards required for substitute teaching but still....

shaldna
08-01-2012, 12:24 PM
Taught or required as part of the college or uni curriculum I'd understand but I hadn't heard of it being required as a h.s. course for university acceptance. At least here, that's not the case anyplace I've ever heard of.

Most colleges/unis here require like, 3 years maths, 3 or 4 years science, 4 years English literature, 3 years of a foreign language, etc., to apply. No religion requirement.


We have individual qualifications - A levels or Leaving Certs, depending on which side of the border you live on. A college place is offered based on results, so they might require two As and B, or they might specify subjects, such as two As and B including Biology and Maths.

The teacher training college I mentioned is a Catholic college, and all the students there are required to take Religion as they are being taught to teach Religion in addition to their main subject area.

MrZiggles
08-03-2012, 12:54 AM
I don't think they care about the groundskeeper's religion, as long as he does his job.

As for uniforms - I grew up in northern California and they were required at the grammar school and junior high levels but not in high school. Maybe it's stricter on the east coast.

C.bronco
08-03-2012, 01:04 AM
Hi, I'm setting the third book in a series of novellas I'm writing (the Predator & Prey series) around a Catholic high school, but I have limited knowledge in this regard except for the fact that they're run by reverends, nuns, and have groundskeepers. The killer I'm giving this novel is a groundskeeper, but I'm wondering a few things:

Do Catholic high schools hire their groundskeepers from within their congregations? Sometimes yes, sometimes no

If so, what kind of background checks do they do? Very thorough background checks, just as a public school would (fingerprints, credit check etc)

I understand that some Catholic High Schools require uniforms (slacks and dress shirt for boys; skirts, choice of nylons or knee socks, and blouse/blazers for girls). Is there a difference (such a boarding versus day school), or not? It varies a lot. My high school was part boarding part day, and we had a strict dress code, but no uniforms.

How often, when an investigation becomes based around these schools, do they close ranks? Do they protect mainly the reverends/priests and the nuns, or all employees? (I'm not trying to be an irritant, but I've watched too many SVU episodes and I want to make sure there's at least some resemblance to reality in those 'schools close ranks' cases). Not that I have ever seen. They follow the same protocol any other school or business would.

Do Catholic High schools often have a security system of any kind, or if its a community they consider trustworthy do they not go for that expense? (A good number of the victims are abducted by the killer either on the grounds or nearby). The usual security would include alarms, cameras on parking lot and entrances, emergency and evacuation plans etc. If there were incidents, they would likely step up security, hire security guards, and possibly put a curfew into effect on campus.

Those are all the questions I can think of for now. But any information would be greatly appreciated. For these types of things, you have to be as accurate as possible. I could probably get away with that launcher thing I mentioned in another thread, but stuff like the rules and regulations of a Catholic High School and how they deal with security and with police investigations? Best to do as much research as possible.

Obviously, I'm not Catholic, but I try to respect all religions and their tenets, even if sometimes I think they exist merely to stonewall. (Yeah, I know, I sound really neutral. In essence, I follow a code of 'To each their own', even if I think something is a bit off). Therefore, I want to make sure I get as much accuracy as I can.

I hope that helps!

JamesOliv
08-18-2012, 04:46 PM
I used to teach in a catholic high school (I was a religious "Brother")

Let me just say about the school closing ranks:

It depends on your time period. Present day, a school (Catholic in particular) is going to fully cooperate with an investigation to avoid scandal. Even if you went back into the past when the church was not so, ahem, forthcoming, they would likely to close ranks on behalf of a groundskeeper.

it was not uncommon for a groundskeeper to be Catholic, and not uncommon for them to be active in their parish. But Catholc high schools, unlike the grade schools, are rarely affiliated with one particular parish. The exception to this rule is if the school is run by a religious order (Benedictines, Franciscans, Jesuits etc).

As for the schools being run mostly by laypersons, this is to entirely true. Many dioceses still have clergy and religious (nuns and brothers) as administrators. I graduated in the early 2000s from Catholic school and our principal was a priest, our Dean of Students was a Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Director of Development was also a Sister of IHM, three of four guidance counselors were Sisters of Mercy and we had a Brother who taught Spanish.

Let me know if there is any other information I might be able to provide.

SeaGlass
08-19-2012, 04:33 AM
It's funny, the way Catholic schools are usually described in books has always been a bit of a pet peeve for me, because I always thought the authors didn't know what they were talking about/were just making stuff up. And now after reading everyone's comments, I've realised how different Catholic schools can be!

I went to a Catholic high school, but it was publicly funded (in Ontario), so it was pretty much the same as a regular high school. Normal teachers. I think they were supposed to be Catholic, but I know they weren't necessarily "practicing" Catholics (ie. didn't go to Church every week). No nuns or priests. A parish priest would come and do a mass in the gym for special religious days/occasions that everyone had to attend (though not everyone was Catholic. If you weren't, you just had to go and be respectful). The groundskeepers were just normal custodians. And there was an entire Catholic school board (alongside the public school board) so I guess if a teacher was accused of something, the board would close ranks around them/investigate as much as any other school board. If a priest was accused of something, I don't think anyone in the school would have 'protected' them or tried to silence the accusations.
Uniforms- yep, had them. Had a spring and winter uniform (ie/past a certain day in the spring, you were allowed to wear uniform shorts). Otherwise, boys had pants, dress shirts, or polo shirts (but everyone wore polo shirts). Girls had choice btw pants, kilts, jumper etc. And we had "dress down days" where you could pay $2 (to go to charity) and wear normal clothes! (those were exciting days haha). Oh. by the way, we didn't have to wear uniforms in catholic elementary school, just high school.

Message me if you need any more info.

shaldna
08-19-2012, 11:48 AM
It's funny, the way Catholic schools are usually described in books has always been a bit of a pet peeve for me, because I always thought the authors didn't know what they were talking about/were just making stuff up. And now after reading everyone's comments, I've realised how different Catholic schools can be!

Or how similar to other schools.

And I think this is important to realise - the way the school operates will depend on a lot of factors - for instance, a convent run school will always be girls only, will likely have nuns for teachers, will have a pretty conservative uniform.

A mainstream Catholic school is likely to be non-church based (ie. not necessarily affiliated to any particular church, although many of them have ties with a specific local one) is going to most likely be co-ed, and, in the UK at least, will have a uniform (most UK schools have a uniform) and is likely to be predominately taught by laypeople.

So, they can be either of the extremes, or anything in between.

Kinda gives you licence to do what you want.

Jonathan.Bentz
08-19-2012, 12:00 PM
Thanks, everyone for all of your comments and sharing your experiences. While I don't use this site as often as I probably should, whenever I've asked a question I always get the most interesting perspectives back, and many times they answer questions I didn't know I had.

I'll probably be doing a 'somewhere in between' school, in that its not a boarding school but a day-time one. However, one thing I've noticed about how Catholic high schools are portrayed back East is that many of them have some kind of uniform. Now, obviously the media has their own reasons for doing it that way, but as its possible for a daytime school to have a uniform, I'm going with that (since that's a key element in this killer's psyche).

JamesOliv
08-19-2012, 06:37 PM
Thanks, everyone for all of your comments and sharing your experiences. While I don't use this site as often as I probably should, whenever I've asked a question I always get the most interesting perspectives back, and many times they answer questions I didn't know I had.

I'll probably be doing a 'somewhere in between' school, in that its not a boarding school but a day-time one. However, one thing I've noticed about how Catholic high schools are portrayed back East is that many of them have some kind of uniform. Now, obviously the media has their own reasons for doing it that way, but as its possible for a daytime school to have a uniform, I'm going with that (since that's a key element in this killer's psyche).

When I attended Catholic High School (and subsequently taught in the same school), the uniform was:

For Boys:

WINTER - Button down dress shirt (light color), their choice of tie, khaki trousers, black shoes and a Navy blue sport coat with the school crest.

SPRING - A school golf shirt (available in Yellow, Green or White), khaki trousers and black shoes

For Girls:

WINTER - A plaid "Catholic school girl skirt" and a white blouse

SPRING - The same skirt, but with the golf shirt

The only change from when I went from student to teaching was that the shirt color for boys was standardized to white and the tie rule was changed to "any solid color tie."

This was not a boarding school. And I have not seen a Diocesan run boarding school. That doesn't mean there isn't one, but I have never seen one.

Most boarding schools are run by religious orders (the Benedictines and the Fraternity of St Peter [uber-conservative] have such schools).

shaldna
08-19-2012, 07:15 PM
When I attended Catholic High School (and subsequently taught in the same school), the uniform was:

At my daughters school it's the following:

Girls - white shirt, school tie (everyone wears a tie) school jumper, grey skirt, white knee socks or grey tights with black shoes (no heel). In summer the girls may wear a blue dress with white socks and black shoes with their school jumper or a cardigan.

Boys - grey trousers, although they can wear grey shorts in summer - very few of the older boys do though, white shirt - long sleeves in winter, short in summer, tie, school jumper.

They also have regulation school coats that they should wear - although in winter when it's really cold the school don't mind if they wear a warmer one.

cornflake
08-19-2012, 11:14 PM
Thanks, everyone for all of your comments and sharing your experiences. While I don't use this site as often as I probably should, whenever I've asked a question I always get the most interesting perspectives back, and many times they answer questions I didn't know I had.

I'll probably be doing a 'somewhere in between' school, in that its not a boarding school but a day-time one. However, one thing I've noticed about how Catholic high schools are portrayed back East is that many of them have some kind of uniform. Now, obviously the media has their own reasons for doing it that way, but as its possible for a daytime school to have a uniform, I'm going with that (since that's a key element in this killer's psyche).

You really need to do some serious research I think. It's not possible for Catholic schools to have uniforms - I've never seen one that doesn't. As everyone else in the thread has basically said the same thing I don't think it's just the dozens I'm familiar with.

They all have their own uniform. Mostly plaids, some solids, plus a crest or insignia, but all identifiable.

Again everyplace I know, most kids know the different schools by sight. School X has the blue with green pinstripe, school Y is the red and blue, Z is blue and green, etc.

Mostly here difference between winter and summer is a sweater/cardigan/vest allowed over the shirt/blouse, but varies.

Duncan J Macdonald
08-19-2012, 11:32 PM
You really need to do some serious research I think. It's not possible for Catholic schools to have uniforms - I've never seen one that doesn't. As everyone else in the thread has basically said the same thing I don't think it's just the dozens I'm familiar with.

They all have their own uniform. Mostly plaids, some solids, plus a crest or insignia, but all identifiable.

Again everyplace I know, most kids know the different schools by sight. School X has the blue with green pinstripe, school Y is the red and blue, Z is blue and green, etc.

Mostly here difference between winter and summer is a sweater/cardigan/vest allowed over the shirt/blouse, but varies.

Except when they don't.

Archbishop Stepinac High School, where I attended from 1971-1975, had no uniform. We had a dress code, which required jacket and tie. No mention was made of color, cut, suit or blazer and slacks, type of color of shoe (as long as it was a dress shoe).

I, as well as most of my contemporaries, pushed the boundaries as far as we could -- checked trousers with a large-plaid jacket, striped shirt and a paisley tie. All in non-complementary colors and fabrics.

cornflake
08-20-2012, 06:43 AM
Except when they don't.

Archbishop Stepinac High School, where I attended from 1971-1975, had no uniform. We had a dress code, which required jacket and tie. No mention was made of color, cut, suit or blazer and slacks, type of color of shoe (as long as it was a dress shoe).

I, as well as most of my contemporaries, pushed the boundaries as far as we could -- checked trousers with a large-plaid jacket, striped shirt and a paisley tie. All in non-complementary colors and fabrics.

Stepinac in Westchester? Has one now. I didn't know they didn't used to but have for a while at least. :Shrug:

I didn't say it wasn't possible one someplace didn't but I think it'd be rare - and the poster was speaking as if it would be rare TO have a uniform. Everyone else in the thread has confirmed uniforms as well, from all different geographic areas - just saying they're pretty standard if not completely ubiquitous (and yes, in my personal experience, ubiquitous).

Robbert
08-20-2012, 10:04 AM
There was no school uniform at the Catholic boarding school I attended in the 1970's in Germany. In the meantime, all nuns, reverends etc. have been replaced by secular teachers.

Duncan J Macdonald
08-20-2012, 06:47 PM
Stepinac in Westchester? Has one now. I didn't know they didn't used to but have for a while at least. :Shrug:

I didn't say it wasn't possible one someplace didn't but I think it'd be rare - and the poster was speaking as if it would be rare TO have a uniform. Everyone else in the thread has confirmed uniforms as well, from all different geographic areas - just saying they're pretty standard if not completely ubiquitous (and yes, in my personal experience, ubiquitous).

Sad to see that Stepinac has fallen. But a search didn't take me long to find another free-thinking school. See Moreau Catholic High School (http://www.moreaucatholic.org/s/768/2col.aspx?sid=768&gid=1&pgid=335).

smellycat6464
08-21-2012, 04:22 AM
Hi, I'm setting the third book in a series of novellas I'm writing (the Predator & Prey series) around a Catholic high school, but I have limited knowledge in this regard except for the fact that they're run by reverends, nuns, and have groundskeepers. The killer I'm giving this novel is a groundskeeper, but I'm wondering a few things:
Hi there! I graduated from a Catholic high school and loved it! You'd be surprised that there was only one nun employed at my school, and she taught AP biology and was a fierce advocate for evolution. I loved her haha, couldn't harm a fly. And there wasn't any slapping with rules nonsense. Although that did exist before. All administration and faculty besides her were not reverends or anything like that. Although, we did have a campus minister, but he wasn't ordained. (well, he recently was, but he left before he took the sacrament of holy orders.) You'd be surprised how "heterogenous" catholic schools can be. I knew jewish teachers and students. My best friend was an agnostic. I knew some atheists, muslims, and buddhists (although one buddhist girl was doing it more to say "look I'm a buddhist." There was even a world religions class implemented for the purpose of curious or questioning students who weren't firm in what they believed in. I took it and it was exhilarating, no joke! My high school didn't have a groundskeeper, at least I don't think. Is groundskeeper a dean? security?I don't know, but if it was a boarding high school I guess that's possible. Mine was a commuter, so I can't offer much there.

Do Catholic high schools hire their groundskeepers from within their congregations?
Not exactly sure what you mean by groundskeeper. One of our deans was a retired cop and vietnam vet (as was one of our theology teachers). Both very nice men, and helped run a safe ship. Reasonable, and fair.
If so, what kind of background checks do they do?
Hmm, I've never applied for a position within a Catholic school, but I imagine they undergo the same level of background checking like any other job. What that entails, I don't know, since my perspective of these things have been limited to submitting applications to hire, not reviewing them.

I understand that some Catholic High Schools require uniforms (slacks and dress shirt for boys; skirts, choice of nylons or knee socks, and blouse/blazers for girls). Is there a difference (such a boarding versus day school), or not?
I don't think so. I'll tell you what we wore, and you can compare that to any other info you find:
boys: in the summer: a polo (blue if you're upperclassman, white if you're an underclassman) pants with a belt (gray if an upperclassman, blue if an underclassman) no highlights, hair not touching the ears, no earrings or facial hair. White or dress socks as long as its not athletic, and black leather shoes from a specific company.
winter:blazer and tie over white or blue dress shirt. Only school approved pins could go on the blazer. Blue blazer for upper classmen, gray for underclassmen.

girls: summer: same top, but they usually wore a skirt instead of pants. (there was always one girl who did wear pants...and she was called pants girl lol. every grade had one...) Same color scheme applies to skirt. Girls could wear conservative jewelry, once pierce per lobe, and they could highlight their hear as long as it wasn't a color found on the rainbow.
winter: they had to wear a blazer and shirt, too. No tie, but their collar was shaped differently.

exceptions: on fridays you can wear the school sweater instead of the blazer (same color scheme applies) there were dress down days for special occasions or charity events. And they let us wear the summer uniform earlier if it got hot fast.
If you were a senior, you could wear your own penny loafers, and wear the sweater on all winter days (and have blazer burning parties haha. that was not good for my lungs...)

How often, when an investigation becomes based around these schools, do they close ranks? Do they protect mainly the reverends/priests and the nuns, or all employees? (I'm not trying to be an irritant, but I've watched too many SVU episodes and I want to make sure there's at least some resemblance to reality in those 'schools close ranks' cases).
I admit I'm not entirely sure what you mean. I have't watched SVU, either. But what I'm gathering is that do you suspect there is "covering up" when someone in administration does a wrong. To my experiences, no. A teacher got fired for showing "knocked up" to a health class (well, that wasn't the only reason. Constant stories about "waking up drunk in a dumpster with my friends" and other offenses lead to his termination. Ironically he was a fitness instructor...) However, I'm sure there's some corruption in some schools. Every organization has corrupt people, even the religious. That's not meant to be flagrant, since I am a Catholic, it's just fact. People are human, people do bad things. So I guess it's feasible.

Do Catholic High schools often have a security system of any kind, or if its a community they consider trustworthy do they not go for that expense? (A good number of the victims are abducted by the killer either on the grounds or nearby).
Faculty and staff are pretty vigilant. It wasn't like prison where there were people patrolling with flashlights. But doing illegal activities was not easy. Possible, but not easy. I've seen my fair share of fist fights, marijuana reports, and two drug busts.

Those are all the questions I can think of for now. But any information would be greatly appreciated. For these types of things, you have to be as accurate as possible. I could probably get away with that launcher thing I mentioned in another thread, but stuff like the rules and regulations of a Catholic High School and how they deal with security and with police investigations? They're pretty cooperative. Actually, someone ratted out a drug dealer in my school (The first drug bust) and administration actually called the police and asked them to bring dogs and to sniff lockers.Best to do as much research as possible.

Obviously, I'm not Catholic, but I try to respect all religions and their tenets, even if sometimes I think they exist merely to stonewall. (Yeah, I know, I sound really neutral. In essence, I follow a code of 'To each their own', even if I think something is a bit off). Therefore, I want to make sure I get as much accuracy as I can.Thank you for your neutrality. It drives me crazy how people say, often to my face, how a whole institution is to be damned in their eyes just because of their limited perspective into such organizations, thinking it's impossible to separate the nuts from the bolts. I appreciate your civil attitude. If you ever have any questions about catholic high schools please don't hesitate to message me!