The Archdiocese of Cincinnati requires that the students take a yearly religion class for their Catholic education. For seniors, this class is called Christian Lifestyles. Some of the core material taught includes the meaning of personal spirituality, planning for college life, and different vocations. However, Saint Ursula Academy goes beyond the given requirements by including a dating unit. This segment covers a wide variety of issues on the subject of dating, including open communication in relationships, signs of abuse, and how to stay safe while dating in college. Mrs. Caito, Mrs. Mertens, and Ms. Thomas all approach the topic in different ways, which gives each new class unique experiences and conversations.
As dating is an integral step towards marriage, it’s appropriate for seniors to be formally educated on the subject rather than simply consulting their friends during lunch.
Mrs. Caito especially enjoys these moments in the classroom in the anonymous questions activities. “Writing questions on note cards gives students opportunity to ask questions that they may feel intimidated to ask otherwise. It usually leads to fun, deep conversations.” During such moments, teachers give advice to their students and try to get crucial points across. One of Mrs. Caito’s favorite pieces of advice is to “listen to the people who know you the best and be aware of their advice for your relationships. They have your best interest in mind, even if you don’t always agree with them.” The SUA religion teachers are passionate about using this class to help their students become more confident and successful.
The dating unit also gives solid tools to help in real relationships. The most important lesson is for the students to learn balance in their lives. They must know themselves fully before they are prepared to enter a relationship. Once there is a foundation of self-awareness, girls can learn to see the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Many students find this information helpful and are excited to apply it to their lives. Sarah Teuschl ‘17, a student who especially enjoyed Christian Lifestyles, says, “This class helped me to realize that I should develop myself as a person before having a boyfriend, and I think having taken this class will definitely help me in the future.”
Rachel Hardin ‘17 discusses her favorite lesson, which helped her “learn what to look for in a boy, and that you can’t change or fix people when you date them.” When asked if the dating unit has a place in a Catholic school, she answers, “For sure! We don’t always know how to interact with boys because we don’t go to school with them. It also helps us to know how to help friends in unhealthy relationships. People can be blind to problems in these, so this helps to open girls’ eyes.” Although it can seem uncomfortable to discuss personal topics in a school environment, many students find it both beneficial and fun.
The dating unit is constantly evolving because teachers find new material and interesting discussion points. This makes every class special and a new experience. Additionally, every class has new girls to offer different perspectives and contributions. Everyone has something different that will affect her and hopefully help her in the future. As the last religion class at Saint Ursula Academy, younger students can look forward to learning thought-provoking and practical lessons in Christian Lifestyles.