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President’s Blog

 Week of 05/08/2017

Dr John Venturella

“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else. I’ve felt that many times. My hope for all of us is that “the miles we go before we sleep” will be filled with all the feelings that come from deep caring – delight, sadness, joy, wisdom – and that in all the endings of our life, we will be able to see the new beginnings.” 
Fred RogersThe World According to Mister Rogers

Week of 03/15/2017

I am in Peru right now with a great group of CCC students! The trip has been incredible thus far. We arrived in Lima and immediately went to work in an educational cooperative with very poor children. Later that day we took a brief tour of Lima, a very large, exciting South American city.

The following day we hopped a plane to Cuzco on our way to the Sacred City and Machu Picchu. In Cuzco, I got to hold this beautiful baby alpaca.

We spent today in a very poor village helping build parts of a house. It was very hard work, but so rewarding.

Tomorrow we take a train to Machu Picchu, stay overnight, and depart for Cuzco, and back to Lima for our culminating three-day Global Summit.

Week of 01/20/2017

January 18th– 20th CCC welcomed an ad hoc committee of the Sisters of Notre Dame National Education Board meeting.

Mrs. Dulce Roman, former CCC principal and I are on this committee. Former CCC principal, Sister Mary Frances Taymans is the chair of the committee. Other members include:  Sister Jacquelyn Gusdane, President of Notre Dame- Cathedral Latin, Sister Marilyn Ellerbrock from the Toledo Province and Dr. Laura Koehl, President of Notre Dame Academy, Covington, Kentucky.  

Week of 01/06/2017

A New Year’s Prayer

May God make your year a happy one!

Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain, but by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes;

Not by making your path easy, but by making you sturdy to travel any path;

Not by taking hardships from you, but by taking fear from your heart;

Not by granting you unbroken sunshine, but by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows;

Not by making your life always pleasant, but by showing you when people and their causes need you most, and by making you anxious to be there to help.

God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead.


Week of 10/13/2016

It is a very exciting time at CCC!  Homecoming events are taking place this week including t-shirt designs, hall decorations, sidewalk chalk art completion, cinema night, and a pep rally.  The students are exhibiting tremendous school spirit!

Applications for the upcoming school year opened October 1st.  Shadow Days are an excellent way for 8th graders to spend a day in the life of a current CCC student.  We have had such a demand from rising freshman that all dates filled up and we added additional days for your children to spend the day at CCC.

We are looking forward to a great Discover CCC Night on 10/27/16, and invite you and your family to join us. And so we are off to a great start! Let’s remember to help, challenge and pray for one another to stay together as one school community. St. Julie Billiart often said, “How good is the good God.” We need not look very far here at CCC to find that goodness. It’s everywhere!

Week of 9/23/16

We have had a wonderful school year thus far as evidenced by a robust enrollment, a spirited student body and an exceptional faculty and staff. As St. Julie Billiart would say, “look how good is the Good God.”  Today, we had our school-wide prayer service on “service of and care for the poor and least-favored ones. It was very moving. Ms. Beu, our campus minister in charge of Christian Service, did an exceptional job creating a deeply prayerful atmosphere. The students brought in a large number of blankets that will be distributed to two service agencies working with the very poor.  Once again, I was left feeling so privileged to be in such an exceptional school. Go Marauders! Have a good weekend.


Week of 4/20/16

And Life Goes On…

I can hardly believe we are at this time of the year. Today we had our Senior Breakfast and later in the week we will have our Senior Picnic, followed by the Senior Prom this weekend.  Time truly does fly! This has been a very good senior class, and we are very proud of their academic, athletic and service accomplishments.  We will miss them greatly.

Our freshman class is almost full and it is only mid-April. That is incredible for us. We have also had great demand in our rising sophomore and junior classes. Unfortunately, we have had to place some on a waiting list in the hopes of a spot opening up.

I always said, “CCC is Pinellas County’s best kept secret.” Thank God that is no longer the case. CCC is a great school with incredible students and equally incredible alumni.  I often remind the students- “you are so fortunate to attend this school and we, the faculty and staff, are so blessed to be here with you.”

As we come to the end of the school year, I wanted to thank all of you for all you have done to make us the outstanding school we are.  Let’s remember to keep praying for one another as we come to the close of this school year.  Once again, with St. Julie Billiart, we can say, “How good is the good God.”

Week of 3/22/2016

A Successful Gala and on to Easter Vacation…

This year’s Gala, “Roots and Wings,” was a tremendous success. In fact, it was completely sold out! At the silent auction, everything was sold as well! More importantly, it was a wonderful celebration of “family.” The CCC community was at its very best. The Noyes family, spanning over 40 years of involvement at CCC, was representative of the attendees at the Gala.  Many stories were told, lots of laughs were had, and thanks be to God, money was made for our students at CCC- especially those most in need of tuition assistance. It was a great precursor to Easter vacation.

Speaking of Easter, on behalf of the administration, I wish the entire CCC community a meaningful Holy Week and a joyous and Happy Easter. Let’s remember to pray for one another at the Holy Week liturgies and especially on Easter Sunday. Have a wonderful vacation and don’t eat too much candy!  Happy Easter!

Week of 3/01/2016

I’m now back from Croatia and looking back, the trip was phenomenal! The students were incredibly well behaved and polite. The Croatians families remarked about how well-mannered and respectful they were. Speaking with the students, it was clear that they had a great time and for some, it might even be called “life-changing.”   We visited so many historic sites, museums and churches. The students remarked about how delicious the food was in Croatia and even more, how great the people were! All in all, the trip gets an A+.  For those who do not know, this exchange program has gone on for the last fourteen years and was started by Dr. Fred Butler, the chairman of the World Languages Department at the time with the support of Sister Mary Dion, the school’s principal.  The Croatians come to CCC one semester and we go to Croatia the next semester. It’s a great program under our International Programs Department which oversees our ESOL Program, our Chinese Student Exchange Program, our other international students from about 10 countries, and our international travel program. This year a group of students from CCC will travel to Italy, Spain and France. Surely one of the great benefits of a CCC education is its focus on diversity, multiculturalism, and globalism.

Week of 2/19/2016

Trip to Croatia

Our trip to Croatia has been incredible! The flights were excellent thanks to Ms. Cardona.  Ms. Dennison did an incredible job coordinating the trip by paying close attention to all the little details that make for a great trip.

We have had incredible meals and visited the capital of Zagreb. We also traveled through the snowy mountains toward the boarder of Italy near Trieste. There, we visited ISTRA, one of the coaster regions of Croatia.

The weather has been cold and raining every day. The temperature is around 35 degrees.

The Croatians have been unbelievably welcoming and we all had a great time so far!




Week of 2/12/2016

Chinese New Year and the Start of Lent

On Monday, we celebrated Chinese New Year with a wonderful dinner hosted by Twin Palms here at CCC and the very next day, we began the holy season of Lent with a beautiful Mass and the distribution of ashes. The New Year’s dinner, celebrated with American and Chinese students from Keswick, Northside Christian and St. Petersburg Catholic, was a great way to get to know students and faculty from other private schools and also celebrate our commitment to diversity and living the gospel in all its fullness. The students had a great time, the food was terrific and the company was even better.

The Ash Wednesday Mass and distribution of ashes was very solemn and the students were so well-behaved and prayerful. Father Kyle gave an exceptional homily using the analogy of physical training and spiritual training in order to “win the prize.” Again, the students were very attentive.  After Mass I heard many students, Catholic and non-Catholic discussing his homily. That’s quite impressive when you consider we are talking about high school students at the start of the school day!

What impresses me about CCC is our deep commitment to being passionately and truly Catholic while at the same time being open to those of other religious backgrounds at our school. Pope Francis stated it well when he said, “to dialogue does not mean compromising one’s faith, but rather an opportunity to grow in brotherhood. When evangelizing, instead of imposing, we are called to share the joy and simplicity of what we believe. “

Diversity, brotherhood/sisterhood, practice of the gospel, do not come cheap. Yes, there will be some challenges in attempting to “live” together under one roof, but what joy there is in knowing we are truly “living” day in and day out as God’s family.

God bless you this Lenten season and always!

Week of 1/18/16

A New Year, a Few Changes and Powerful Reflections!

What a Great Start to 2016! We had four students transfer in at mid-year and our retention rate continues to be outstanding! This in great measure, is due to the outstanding work of Tara Shea McLaughlin, our Director of Enrollment and her assistant, Ana Cardona. Unfortunately, Ana has taken another position and while we totally support her decision, we will miss her greatly. We have hired an excellent replacement. She arrives on January 25. I will write more about her later in the week.

On a most happy note, while CCC has emerged as the high school of choice, currently we have over 200 Freshman applicants, by far a record high! We have worked hard as a faculty, staff, parents and alumni and God has blessed our efforts. Let’s remember to say a prayer of thanksgiving.

Below are some quotes I sent to our faculty and staff. I send “Reflection for the Week” every week as a helpful tool for deepening our spirituality and better accomplishing our mission. I hope they are helpful to you too! Have a good week.

I believe we are people who, on the one hand, want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I believe — and I say it with humility — that this is the Lord’s most powerful message: mercy.

— Homily on March 17, 2013

It is not easy to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must! … “Oh, I am a great sinner!” “All the better! Go to Jesus: He likes you to tell him these things!” He forgets, He has a very special capacity for forgetting. He forgets, He kisses you, He embraces you and He simply says to you: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more” (Jn 8:11).

— Homily on March 17, 2013

Jesus’ attitude is striking: we do not hear the words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, which are an invitation to conversation. “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.” Ah! Brothers and Sisters, God’s face is the face of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about God’s patience, the patience He has with each one of us? That is His mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, He understands us, He waits for us, He does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to Him with a contrite heart. “Great is God’s mercy,” says the Psalm.

— Angelus on March 17, 2013


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I can hardly believe Christmas is almost here! It’s been a very good first half of the year.  We have almost a 100 percent retention rate, our enrollment is up again this year, we have more applicants than we can possibly accept for next year, and our faculty and staff, as always, continues to do a terrific job. Most importantly, we have been blessed with great students and wonderful families!

On behalf of the administration, faculty and staff, I want to wish our CCC family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Let’s keep one another in our prayers especially at Mass (and our respective places of worship).

God bless you all.


News on Admissions

On Saturday, we had our second Freshman entrance examination in which 80 students sat for the High School Placement Test (HSPT). CCC has been truly blessed with an applicant pool even higher than previous years.  Special thanks to Mrs. Tara Shea McLaughlin and Ms. Ana Cardona. They have done wonderful work on the front lines.

Great thanks go to our administration, faculty and staff. In the end, prospective applicants want to come to CCC because of the outstanding curriculum it provides students in learning achievement and personal growth. The great demand this year speaks for itself about the high quality of education at Clearwater Central Catholic High School.

While giving thanks, I want to thank our students and their parents for being such wonderful ambassadors for CCC.  We truly have a terrific school community and I can’t wait to welcome our new students to be part of it!

Let’s continue to pray for one another.

Week of 11/30/2015

Advent 2015

This past weekend marked the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a wonderful time to prepare for the Savior’s birth in our hearts in a new and deeper way, to remember His coming in history at His birth in Bethlehem, and to ponder His coming in glory on the last day. Here is a brief reflection I sent the faculty and staff today. Let’s all join together in prayer and presence this Advent season as we wait for His coming.

“Openness to God demands our growing acceptance that we cannot create blueprints for our own lives. Though God’s character is unchanging, the ways of God are unpredictable, and there is a difference between arbitrariness and unpredictability.”

― Enuma OkoroSilence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent

Have a wonderful week!

Week of 11/9/15

Last Friday we held our 35th Annual Golf Tournament at Countryside Country Club. It was a great success! We had lots of teams, food, fun and laughs!  It was great to see so many of our benefactors, friends, and especially alumni. Speaking of our alumni, this past weekend, Mrs. Beth Lani met with a group of Alumni at our first reunion in New York. From what she wrote in her text, it seemed to go very well. Yes, God continues to bless CCC.

On another note, I shared this passage with the faculty in my “Reflection of the Week” which I offer to the CCC staff and faculty on Mondays. My hope is that you too will find it meaningful:

We hesitate to choose another way of living because we do not have enough:  enough time, enough money, enough energy, enough support, or enough internal strength.  …   Our sense of being consumed by dissatisfaction is already a grace.  Our desire for a different way of life already carries intimations of how to proceed.  One of the mysteries of the great economy of grace is that we seek because we have already been found, we ask because we already have the answers placed deep with our soul.

                                               Mary Jo Leddy, Radical Gratitude, p. 144

Have a great week!

Week of 11/5/15

On Tuesday, I attended the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast at the Sheraton Sand Key and was privileged to hear Dr. Ben Carson, presidential candidate, give an inspiring speech. The prayers were beautiful and the music was incredible!  Special thanks to Peter and Rhonda Cunzolo who graciously offered Ms. Ceraolo, Mr. Deputy and me seats at their table. Peter Cunzolo is our newly-appointed CCC Advisory Council Chairperson. He and his wonderful wife, Rhonda, have been very supportive of CCC. Their kindness and generosity are deeply appreciated.

It was also great to see so many of our CCC families and benefactors including, Msgr. Bob Morris, Vicar General, Joe and Jo Ann White, Herb and Diane Brown, the Brown Family, Father Joe Pellegrino, pastor of St. Ignatius Church and Mrs. Cindy Malinski, CCC alumna and principal of our partner school, Guardian Angels. I know there were others present though I did not get to spend time with them. Nevertheless, I was proud to be a part of our CCC family, so well represented at this inspiring event.

                    Mayors Breakfast - 3 Mayors Breakfast - 1 Mayors Breakfast - 2

Let’s continue to pray every day for one another and the continued growth and well-being of Clearwater Central Catholic High School.

St. Julie Billiart,

Pray for us!

Week of 10/26/2015

Secularization, Superficiality and Catholic Education

Pope Francis made his first pronouncements on Catholic education some time ago. I think his words give us a great deal to think about whether Catholic or not. CCC is very committed to teaching critical thinking especially when our students are tossed into a world that is so information-bombarded. Below are Pope Francis’ inspiring words worth considering:

“The process of secularization tends to re­duce the faith and the Church to the sphere of the private and personal. Furthermore, by com­pletely rejecting the transcendent, it has produced a growing deterioration of ethics, a weakening of the sense of personal and collective sin, and a steady increase in relativism. These have led to a general sense of disorientation, especially in the periods of adolescence and young adulthood which are so vulnerable to change. …We are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data—all treated as being of equal importance—and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. In response, we need to provide an education which teaches crit­ical thinking and encourages the development of mature moral values.”

Clearwater Central Catholic High School provides the exact education for which our Holy Father is calling. Let’s pray that CCC will always be blessed with good students seeking a solid Catholic education and that these students will firmly come to know that CCC was worthy of their choice!

Week of 10/19/2015

Discover CCC Evening: The Largest Open House in the School’s History!

Last week we had our Discover CCC Evening. I have been delighted by the continued growth in numbers over the past few years. At this year’s event, I was overwhelmed. We had 270 visitors. That is a record number in the history of the school. What a blessing for us!  I was deeply impressed by the leadership of Mrs. Tara Shea McLaughlin and Ms. Ana Cardona, our Enrollment Management Team and Mr. Enrique Garza, our Assistant Principal, in creating our newly-revitalized program and the creativity of our administration, faculty, staff and students in making the event so successful.

One of the evening’s highlights was the focus on “student-centered learning and performance”. In essence, our student ambassadors lead the evening with talks, demonstrations, and discussion. I heard more than once from prospective parents that, “I want my child in this school because I see your product in your students. They truly have become exceptional leaders because they have come to CCC.”

I asked many prospective parents why they came that night. Here are some of the responses in no particular order:

(1) I know this is an excellent school with a variety of programs for all students-high achievers, regular learners and those who need additional support for learning differences, (2) great spirit in the school these days, (3) a history of devoted teachers and administrators over many years, (4) terrific athletic programs that can open the doors for my child like they did for alums who are now professional football and baseball players, (5) heard alumni love their school and continue to support their fellow classmates years after leaving CCC, (6) wonderful theatre program, (7) strong learning and achievement program, (8) a truly Catholic school, (9) a strong emphasis on the student personal growth, and (10) a place where all can fit in whether Catholic or not.

These were just some responses to the question, why are you interested in CCC?

I also heard parents say they want to apply quickly as they know we had a waiting list in the past and, given the numbers, anticipate a larger one this year. Yes, they are correct. It certainly is best to apply early!

I have been at CCC for the last eleven years and in Catholic education for 37 years. I know what a great Catholic school looks like. Be assured Clearwater Central Catholic is certainly among the very best!

Week of 10/15/2015

How good is the good God!

This year’s Discover CCC Evening is going to be incredible! The administration, faculty, staff and most especially the Enrollment Management Team have worked hard to plan a new, innovative student-centered program that demonstrates student outcomes in a variety of subject areas, co-curricular activities and athletics. As in years past, we will showcase our facilities, as well as our Campus Ministry and Performing Arts programs. Our teams will also be on the athletic fields and in the gym showcasing our outstanding CCC Athletic program.

I am proud to acknowledge that we have 200 people pre-registered for Discover CCC Evening. In year’s past, the numbers have been much lower. However, given that we had a waiting list last year and that our school is enjoying an increasingly fine reputation, prospective students and their parents are anxiously awaiting the testing dates, school visits and eventual acceptance letters. It’s also important to note that we have already received more than 40 applications even before Discover CCC Evening. That is unprecedented in CCC history!

Yes, St. Julie Billiart was right- God is good indeed!  CCC has been richly blessed with an outstanding faculty and staff, wonderful students, and now eager prospective students and their families. We can’t wait to meet them. Go Marauders!

Week of 10/6/2015

Pope Francis told a key Roman Catholic meeting on family issues on Monday that the Church should not be a hidebound “museum of memories” but have the courage to change if that was what God wanted.”

The synod, a three-week meeting of bishops from around the world meeting in Rome, will discuss ways to defend the traditional family and making life-long marriage more appealing to young people while seeking common ground with disaffected Catholics. The gathering is being attended by cardinals, bishops, delegates, observers and married couples.

In opening the session, Pope Francis said the bishops should “not just talk but try to hear what God wanted for the Church of 1.2 billion members and to listen to differing opinions among themselves.”

He urged the bishops to humbly empty themselves of conventions and prejudices to listen to their brother bishops. They should not “point fingers at the others to judge them” or feel superior to those with different ideas.

Below are three quotes from the Pope’s address I have asked the CCC faculty and staff to reflect upon this week. I hope you will all do the same.

 “The Church should not be a hidebound ‘museum of memories’ but have the courage to change if that was what God wanted.”

“We must have courage that does not let itself be intimidated by the seductions of the world and passing fads.”

“The synod should be a protected space where the Church feels the action of the Holy Spirit.”

Once again, I urge the entire CCC community to pray for the synod and especially for Pope Francis as he continues to lead the Church through some stormy seas. Let’s also keep praying for one another.

Week of 9/18/2015

Great Schools Create Good Citizens
Last week, I wrote about Barbara Kantrowitz and Pat Wingert’s article in Newsweek, What Makes a High School Great? They outlined a number of outcomes we can expect from great high schools. In the next few weeks, I will treat each of these as they relate to CCC. The first is “that great schools create good citizens.”

Our mission statement clearly states that “we challenge our students to intentionally pursue social justice and live in service to others for the betterment of society.” Furthermore, our core values speak of “embodying respect and valuing service” as cornerstones of a CCC education. Right here in our foundational and guiding documents we see this emphasis on creating “good citizens.”

How are these concepts operationalized in our Learning and Achievement/Personal Growth Educational Framework here at CCC? First, by the clarity with which expectations are outlined and the encouragement toward self-assessment and personal growth given by faculty and staff, our students are taught to be critical thinkers, astute listeners, informed consumers, and civically minded members of society. Expectations regarding attire, punctuality, appropriate behavior, the appropriate way to address others, how to ask for help, how to express oneself on difficult topics compliment work done in the classroom.

Second, our learning and achievement/personal growth program of education encourages our students to be “artisans of their own learning” with the support, guidance, and teaching of the faculty. While most courses here at CCC implicitly teach and reinforce the skills necessary for becoming a good citizen, courses like AP Human Geography, AP Government and Politics, Economics, IB History of the Americas and Law Studies explicitly teach the content necessary for creating responsible citizens who think critically, act justly, and serve lovingly.

Third, CCC’s wide variety of co-curricular activities further operationalize our mission and core values and further compliment formation received in the classroom. Peer Ministry, Student Council, Honor Societies, the Nihao International Club, Youth in Government, Student Advancement Team, School Ambassadors, and Model United Nations contribute to the CCC student’s learning and achievement and personal growth. Their role in preparing our students to be good citizens is an essential part of their Catholic education here at CCC.

On the personal growth side, School Counseling, its Naviance program with student personal profiles for college application, provides our students with insights into themselves which directly relate to being good citizens. At the same time, the counseling program gives the students the necessary edge they need to get into exceptional colleges and universities. Likewise, our extensive athletic programs teach good sportsmanship, teamwork, perseverance, respect, and a love of hard work, all necessary for becoming a good citizen.

Finally, our vibrant Campus Ministry and Religious Education programs further our ultimate goal and mission – to make our students good Christians and good citizens by fostering prayer, service and community. I can safely say CCC far exceeds the standards for being a great school when it comes to preparing “good citizens.” Next week I’ll discuss the second outcome of a great high school – to create liberal arts. Stay tuned.



Clearwater Central Catholic High School: An Outstanding Catholic High School for Our Times

In its Best High Schools list, Newsweek recognizes schools that do the best job of preparing students for college. This is done by dividing the number of AP and IB tests taken at a school by the number of graduating seniors as a way to measure how committed the school is to helping kids take college-level courses. Newsweek clearly reported that “kids at those schools have an edge, no matter their economic background.”

Clearwater Central Catholic High School surely fits the bill with our IB, AP and Honors Programs. Clearly, a large percentage of our students not only take the exams but pass with exemplary grades receiving AP credits and IB diplomas. A few have received as many as 40 credits without ever having left high school! Even more noteworthy, we have had students in our program for Students with Learning Differences receive these credits.

Barbara Kantrowitz and Pat Wingert, in a Newsweek article titles, What Makes a High School Great?, asked, “What are high schools really for?” The authors went on to say that excellent schools should: (1) create good citizens, (2) create liberal arts, (4) prepare students for work, (5) help boys and girls succeed separately, (6) emphasize science and technology, and (6) reach out to everyone. I found the article thought-provoking and challenging. Suffice it to say, I think we receive high marks when evaluating ourselves against these benchmarks.

Given this article was written primarily with public schools in mind, the religious identity and spiritual nature of high schools and their students was not addressed in detail. I will treat our religious identity as a seventh goal of an effective Catholic high school as my final blog concerning “an effective, outstanding high school for today.”

CCC has been blessed in so many ways. It is a great school, a school where the personal growth and learning and achievement of students, faculty and staff are of paramount importance to all of us. I look forward to demonstrating “why” this is so in the weeks ahead.


Week of 9/10/2015

Back to School Night

“This is a great school.” “I love this school.” “My children love coming here.” I was so impressed with the comments from parents as they followed their student’s schedule from class to class.

What makes CCC a great school? Simply put, excellent teachers, a knowledgeable staff, dedicated administrators, supportive parents and most especially, wonderful students! Add to that our incredible predecessors, the Sisters of Notre Dame, Sister Dion, Mrs. Dulce Roman, our first lay principal, and all former teachers and administrators, the giants on whose shoulders we now stand.

One parent commented to me, “I can’t believe the energy level and the faculty’s commitment to their work and the students.” Special thanks to our faculty for a job well done! This was a great night for parents. It was also a wonderful night for me as I felt very proud to have the privilege to serve as President of Clearwater Central Catholic High School.

I would also like to take a moment to thank the administrators, maintenance staff and office staff, who often work behind the scenes. We really couldn’t do it without them.

And so we are off to a great start! Let’s remember to help, challenge and pray for one another to stay together as one school community. St. Julie Billiart often said, “How good is the good God.” We need not look very far here at CCC to find that goodness. It’s everywhere! Have a great year.

Week of 6/18/2015


It’s true! The school year has come to an close and what a superb year it was – state championships, an amazing gala, signings for athletic scholarships, academic and National Merit scholars, and so much more!
As we go our separate ways these next couple of months, I wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very enjoyable and refreshing summer. Stay safe and have lots of fun! Most importantly, let’s remember to give thanks to God, especially at Sunday Mass, and to continue to pray for one another until we gather again in August.

On behalf of the school administration, I wish you a great summer!

Conclusion of School Year

The school year is coming to a conclusion. Our graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 30th was a beautiful event and was live-streamed over the internet. If you are interested in viewing, Click here, or go to our CCC Facebook page. This year’s senior class was quite impressive academically. Our CCC graduates will be attending terrific Universities List of College Acceptances 2015 and they received well over 9 Million dollars in grant-in-aid scholarships (a new high for CCC grads). An entire review of our senior students’ academic accomplishments for the 2014-2015 school years can be found on our website under “CCC News”. The information is quite impressive!
This year’s CCC Advisory Council had its final meeting in May. I want to thank Ms. Jamie Prince and Mrs. Corrinne Steinhardt for their excellent leadership as co-chairs of the Council. I also would like to welcome Mr. Peter Cunzolo, who has accepted a two-year term as chairman of the Advisory Council, and Dr. JoAnne Hopkins, who will serve as vice-chairperson for the next two years.
This summer will bring new enhancements to the physical plant and updates in technology. The Educational Leadership Team will be working on our four-year college preparatory curriculum along with members of the faculty. In the next couple of weeks, I will share more exciting news on upcoming projects for next year. For now, we look forward to a successful end of the school year. Please continue to pray for our CCC community and know we are praying for you!



Teacher Appreciation Week

This week we honor our faculty during Teacher Appreciation Week! We had a lovely breakfast earlier in the week and we will have other opportunities to show our appreciation. We have an exceptional faculty and we can never thank them enough for all they do for our students and families. We are truly blessed to have them as part of the CCC community!

On Tuesday, I sent the CCC community this quote and I thought I’d share it with you…

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

– William Arthur Ward

We have had so many “inspirational teachers” walk our hallways from our very beginnings at St. Cecelia School to where we are today. To all of them and especially to the Sisters of Notre Dame, I extend a sincere and heartfelt “thank you” on behalf of the entire CCC family.

The end of the school year is approaching. I’ll keep you updated about enrollment numbers, alumni events, and major plans as we move into the summer. For now, let’s keep praying for one another and our CCC community.

Week of 4/27/2015

The last few weeks at Clearwater Central Catholic have been incredible.  Our AdvancED accreditation visit went very well.  Throughout the process, the accreditation team gave our school many commendations as well as some recommendations for continuous growth and improvement.  In the next five years, we will implement the recommendations put forth in their report.  I will share more with the CCC community regarding our direction and progress over the course of next year.

On another note, last month was the National Catholic Education Conference in Orlando, Florida. I attended as a member of the National Executive Committee for Secondary Schools (my term is now over) along with Mr. Jim Deputy, Mr. Keith Galley, Mrs. Patty Ceraolo, and Mr. Mike Mucci. We also had a chance to spend time with our colleague and friend, Mrs. Ann Marie Kohutek.  The speakers and presentations were very informative and the overall spirit was wonderful. We also spent time with our Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Alberto Vazquez-Matos, and Associate Superintendent, Mrs. Mary Beth Scanlon, making it an excellent experience for us all.

On Sunday, I visited the prom at the Rusty Pelican and I was so impressed with our seniors. They were well dressed, well-behaved and very happy. Once again, I marveled at what has been accomplished during their four years at Clearwater Central Catholic. Indeed, they came in as children and are leaving as mature young adult men and women. Our tagline is alive in them – CCC-Where possibility and opportunity meet! These young people, who came to us filled with so much possibility, seized the opportunities provided to them over the last four years, and are now truly transformed for life.

After 35 years in Catholic education, I am more convinced than ever of its value and purpose. We are preparing young people not just for school and careers, but for life. We are preparing them for eternity. We are truly privileged to be called to this wonderful work.

Week of 3/23/2015

Our Gala event “Defying Gravity, Dreams Take Flight” this past Saturday was a huge success and a complete sell out!

Record dollars were raised – $80,000+ for raffle, and $106,000 for financial assistance. These numbers are truly astonishing and by far the highest we have ever had at CCC!

The Gala produced more sponsors than ever before, an anonymous match for $25,000 from dear and devoted friends of CCC, $5,000 matches, a truly unique venue, and 78 parent and student volunteers. Other highlights included a second year for mobile bidding and a first year for paperless iPad check-out! All in all, it was fantastic and truly “defied gravity.”

Special thanks to:

  • Chairpersons, Kevin and Angela Hawkins
  • Alumni Speakers, Kevin Denison ’07 and William Brady ’14 (son of alumnus Tom Brady ’87)
  • Presenting Sponsors, Crown Auto Dealerships & ExecuJet
  • Our Wonderful Parent and Student Volunteers

Photos for Blog (2)

Week of 3/16/2015

A Revolution in Enrollment and Retention

“A revolution is sweeping the campuses of the nation’s colleges and universities.” I think the same can be said of secondary schools, including CCC. According to Randi Levitz and Lee Noel in The Earth-Shaking but Quiet Revolution in Retention Management,if you want to hear this revolution or see it in action, you have to know how to listen and look. Because this is a quiet revolution and it is nearly invisible. It is based on a simple credo: “The success of an institution and the success of its students are inseparable.”

Retention, therefore, while not the primary goal of our work, is the best indicator that we are meeting our goal of student satisfaction and success. At CCC we have a very high retention rate; that is impressive and a great credit to the entire CCC community. Successful retention management began with us consciously making the areas of student learning and achievement, and personal growth the operating priorities for Clearwater Central Catholic High School.

“To internalize this philosophy, CCC needed to make special efforts to meet the expectations of our incoming students.” By putting into place programs, services, faculty, and staff who can make a difference in the lives of these students, we meet and even surpass their expectations. I think this is something we have deliberately attempted to do over the last few years and the results indicate we are on the right path. Be assured, “improvement in retention does not happen without careful thought and considerable energy.”

Clearly, retention and recruitment are closely related; actually, research indicates successful retention is directly correlated with effective recruitment. “ The extent to which current students graduate feeling satisfied and excited about what they have experienced at CCC helps determine the ease with which the institution is able to recruit new students in subsequent years.”  Institutions with the best retention rates change student behavior in ways that promote student success and retention.

The following steps have been taken at Clearwater Central Catholic High School to insure retention:

(1) advanced the attitude that helping students “grow” is the institution’s role,  (2) designed an academic support safety net with ongoing orientation, sustained contact with counselors, (3) increased use of academic support services when needed, and  (4) instituted professional development for our teachers with an emphasis on helping students with their learning and achievement and personal growth.

Recruitment and retention are priorities for everyone at CCC. We are all ambassadors and supporters for our school.  Our enrollment numbers, being up over 100 students from just a few years ago, is certainly proof of our success. Thanks to everyone for their hard work and dedication, and to God for blessing our efforts.

Week of 3/9/15

A Lenten Reflection Worth Considering

These past weeks of Lent I have offered a Lenten Reflection to our faculty and staff. I particularly like this week’s reflection on friendship with others and God and would like to share it with you, the CCC community:

It might help your reflection on friendship with God to think about your friendships with others. Who are your friends? What makes you say that they are your friends? You tell them things about yourself that you would not tell a stranger. You know that they will not tell others the secrets you share with them, that they will not hold against you what you tell them or hold it over your head as a threat. At the deepest level, you trust that they will remain your friends even when they know some of the less savory aspects of your past life and your character. You also trust that they will stick with you through thick and thin, through good times and tough times. And at least some of these characteristics will also be true of the relationship God wants with you. What is the most important characteristic I look for in a friend? Can I also find this characteristic in my friendship with God?

– Excerpted from Lenten Meditations by William A. Barry, SJ

Week of 3/2/2015

National Catholic Education Association

Last Thursday, I flew to Bishop England High School in Charleston, South Carolina for a Regional Meeting of the National Catholic Education Association. As an elected member of the Secondary Schools Executive Committee, I have been facilitating these meetings over the last three years. It has proven to be an enriching experience both personally and professionally. I have met and worked with highly qualified and deeply committed Catholic administrators from around the country to make a difference in the future of secondary education in our Catholic schools.

I have also learned so much more about “best practices” and have brought that information back to CCC. It’s so easy to remain in our own “little world” content to do “what we have always done” not realizing that our young people’s needs are constantly changing as the world changes. Therefore we, as educators, must be ever-vigilant, as we try and stay ahead of the trends in society and education. Even greater is the challenge to manage these trends while knowing full well that we do not have a crystal ball with which to do so.

As it turns out this is my last year on the committee, however, I have now been asked to sit on the Sisters of Notre Dame National Board. Again, this is a golden opportunity for me to stay on the “cutting edge” with some of the finest minds in Catholic Education and also give back to the Sisters for all their dedication to CCC for so many years and even today, especially through the efforts of our beloved Sister Dion. So, it’s on to a new chapter for me!

Next month, the National Catholic Education Association will have its convention in Orlando, Florida. Given it is so close and worthwhile, we are sending a number of CCC administrators and faculty. There are great presentations and I know our staff will benefit from the exposure to these “best practices” in their respective areas.

Please continue to pray for the administration and faculty these days as we prepare for our AdvanceEd visitation for our five-year accreditation review. The process, while time-consuming, has actually been informative and challenging. I am sure it will help us set our direction for the next five years. I look forward to the visitation team’s arrival in April.

Week 2/24/2015

Leadership at Clearwater Central Catholic High School

CCC’s Leadership Team gathers weekly with the task of providing strategic and visionary leadership for Clearwater Central Catholic High School. We treat topics from both the Learning and Achievement and Personal Growth sides of the school. This would include: (1) academic performance, (2) students with learning needs, (3) curriculum, (4) disciplinary issues, (5) school counseling, and (6) campus ministry. This is certainly an extensive list and gives you a sense of how vast the scope of our work really is!

CCC’s Leadership Team also tackles the management side of the school namely, finance and operations, plant, advancement, enrollment management and other related topics.  The team’s dedication to the students and the razor sharp focus with which the team goes about its work is impressive. Every week we reflect on the school’s mission statement to ensure that the discussions that follow are rooted in our mission and impelled by our vision statement. For us, these are stimulating documents that keep us focused, energized, and challenged.

The members of the CCC Leadership Team include: Mrs. Janet Ashe, Director of Finance and Operations, Mr. James Deputy, Principal, Mr. Richard Falls, Director of Advancement, Mr. Enrique Garza, Assistant Principal and myself. Each team member brings incredible expertise in education to the table. It is a privilege for me to work with all of them.

In the next few weeks, we will be putting a great deal of energy into Technology Integration. As you all know, this is a very important and urgent reality in any school today. Our hope is to once again do an assessment of where we are and where we need to be. This strategic assessment should lead us to even greater integration of technology and education especially as they impact students in the classroom. While it can seem like a daunting task, and certainly a never-ending one, we are all excited to move this agenda not only for the students’ benefit but also our own, as we are learning a lot through the process.

Be assured that the CCC‘s Leadership Team cares deeply about each and every one of our students.  Their learning, achievement, and personal growth are of utmost importance to us and the basis of all our decision-making. Please pray for us and know that you and your children are also in our prayers.

Week 2/18/2015

There is so much going on at CCC these days. This week I attended the Ash Wednesday Mass celebrated by Maryknoll priest, Father Ed Shellito.  The students seemed very engaged and were well behaved. Following Mass, Mrs. Angela Hawkins continued with updates on our Gala and more specifically, the Mercedes-Benz/$25,000 cash prize raffle. So far, well over 200 students have participated and that is a real credit to the women who are working on this event under Mrs. Hawkins’ leadership.

Following the Mass, I had a film shoot. Yes, that’s correct, a film debut! It was a small clip highlighting the need for additional funds for tuition assistance at CCC. We have a 17% increase in applicants this year which will also create a greater demand for financial assistance for prospective students. As I mentioned in the video, CCC is a great school with a wonderful mission. We must try and make it available to those who desire it. Please be generous when asked to support this fund.

Later in the day I met with our Director of Finance and Operations, Mrs. Janet Ashe. We talked about new signage for the campus and our overall budget to date. Thankfully, we are doing quite well. This spring we intend to replace one or two roofs and air conditioners. It’s an ambitious project but one we are capable of undertaking at this time. Likewise, we are planning to begin Phase Two of the stadium project soon. Mr. Richard Falls, Director of Advancement, is leading the charge and hopes to meet with our major donors for this project by the end of the month.

As you can see, there’s never a dull moment at CCC. We are a school “on the move!”

Catholic Schools Week

During Catholic Schools Week, the CCC community had a lot of fun and serious moments together! From an all-school Mass to free donuts for the students, the school was ablaze with the pride of being part of a Catholic school. This year’s theme was “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” 

I was thinking a lot about CCC and its Catholic nature. Are we a community of faith, knowledge, and service?  Last week, I decided to ask the students and faculty and the answer was an overwhelming “YES!”  I agree. Faith is the most important part of our CCC community.  In fact, it is our reason to exist. I am always impressed that our students, both Catholic and non-Catholic, find their Theology classes interesting, informative and fun. They are interested in discussing religious topics. Faith is shared here at CCC through Masses, the sacraments, discussions with one another, and participation in religious activities led by Mr. Andy Shannon, our Director of Campus Ministry and Fr. Gerald Hendry, our chaplain, who inspires us by his commitment and his willingness to “walk with us in faith.”

As a school, we are certainly focused on “knowledge” through our rigorous academic program. Wherever I go, I hear people saying, “CCC is an excellent school. It’s always been an excellent school.” Whether through our classes, our co-curricular activities or our international focus, CCC is constantly educating our students not only for school but for life.

Finally, we are certainly a community of service. This is evident not only in all the service that our students do but also in the hours many do beyond what is required. This is very impressive indeed! Likewise, many members of the faculty do so much good quietly by visiting the sick, lectoring at Mass, being a Eucharistic minister or working with the poor in some many and varied ways.

Is Clearwater Central Catholic truly Catholic? Absolutely!

Week 1/22/15

CCC is off to a great start in 2015! This semester we have admitted 14 new students. In a few weeks our acceptance letters will go out for the freshman class of 2019. At present, we have a large pool of applicants so it will be important for those accepted to enroll right away.

This week CCC hosted a College Admissions and Financial Aid Night for juniors, seniors and their parents. One of our teachers, who is a parent as well, stopped me in the hallway and told me that “this night was so informative. No parent should ever miss it.” In the future, I hope to see more parents there as it will be very helpful to their children in preparing for college entrance.

Last night I attended the Bridge Scholarship Program dinner here at CCC sponsored by the Catholic Foundation. The Bridge Scholarship Program is provided by the Catholic Foundation, the Riley Education Foundation, and other generous benefactors who support this important diocesan initiative. The Bridge Scholarships allow recipients to experience a Catholic education which they would otherwise not be able to afford.

Furthermore, I was so impressed with the number of CCC alums, former students and past parents who are involved in the program. Mr. Jim Madden, who planned and managed the evening, is an alumnus of CCC (‘68). Mr. and Mrs. Joe and Jo Anne White, whose three children attended CCC and who have been incredibly generous to CCC and the diocese for years, were also present. Mr. Scott Riley, yet another generous benefactor and his son Brian (‘98), were likewise present. Mrs. Mary Beth Scanlon our Associate Superintendent of Schools, whose two children attended CCC, gave an inspiring speech. It truly was moving to see the influence our CCC have within the Diocese of St. Petersburg and on Catholic education.

Last week I attended the Senior Retreat. One parent wrote, “my child (and, from what I understand, many classmates) absolutely loved the retreat last week. I remember my senior retreat and, frankly, it was pretty boring and uninspired. I was kind of expecting to hear the same thing about this one.  I could not have been more wrong. My student could not say enough about how spiritually enriching it was and how well prepared the faculty and administration was.” Yes, it truly was a good experience for all of us.

Finally, as many of you already know because of the surveys you received from Mr. Garza, our Assistant Principal, CCC is preparing for its accreditation visit from AdvanceEd. Every five years we are asked to take a closer look at our school with a critical eye in the service of self-improvement. This process culminates with a visitation by a five person evaluating team. This visit will most likely take place in April.

Homecoming Week 10/22/2014

Homecoming Week has come and gone but its incredible spirit lives on! Today, I spoke with many students about last week’s events. They were impressed with Homecoming Week and the strong spirit of community they experienced. The freshmen, being new to CCC, were overwhelmed by the week’s activities. The upperclassmen, knowing the lay of the land, exhibited tremendous creativity and true leadership throughout the week. In a nutshell, the week was a smashing success!
I am presently working with the Enrollment Management Team under the direction of Mrs. Tara Shea-McLaughlin as we execute our recruitment plans for this year. To date, we have 40 applications for next year’s freshman class and that is only 5 days after opening the Admissions portal. Last year, we had to close the freshman class at 150 students (we were intending to accept only 125) and still had a healthy waiting list. It looks like the same will occur this year.
On another note, it becomes even more important when things are going well not to “fall asleep at the switch” or take things for granted. We must work harder than ever to attract qualified students. Given what I see being produced by the Office of Enrollment Management, CCC is wide awake and hard at work! I look forward to a robust Class of 2019. In fact, I expect CCC to be fully enrolled next year with a waiting list. Stay tuned for updates over the next few weeks.


Another year has begun and wonderfully indeed! This year we had a waiting list. Unfortunately we could not accept many who applied because we had no more room. Isn’t that incredible? Everyone at CCC should take credit for this from past parents to present parents, from alumni to present students and from past faculty and staff to those presently here at CCC. Naturally, the administrations, past and present have worked hard to get us where we are today.

What exactly are the enrollment statistics this year? Last year we had 478 students and this year we enrolled 525. Wow! We have 152 freshmen (and we only intended to take 125) and still we had potential freshmen on the waiting list! It truly is remarkable.

This year we are blessed with a number of new upperclassmen that includes 25 transfer students. They are from places as far away as China and as near as Largo. Our school has attracted national and international attention. Years ago we called CCC an International School of Excellence. Our hope was “if we build it, they will come.” I must confess there were a few years there where I wasn’t quite sure how true that would be but indeed, they did come!

Finally, we must give thanks to our Bishop, Robert N. Lynch and his brother priests, for supporting our school when things didn’t look quite as bright as they do today. He has always supported me personally and has supported Clearwater Central Catholic High School with his prayers, his financial support and his respect for what we do here.

Likewise, we are grateful to the Sisters of Notre Dame for continuing to share their support and spread their charism here at CCC. “God indeed is very good”, as their spiritual foundress, St. Julie Billiart often told the first Sisters of Notre Dame. In particular, I want to thank Sister Mary Dion SND, former principal for her love for CCC. We really do stand on the shoulders of giants here at CCC.

As we begin another school year, let’s remember we are not just a good, private school. We are a Catholic school. Whether Catholic or not, everyone at CCC is invited to organize their lives around the values of the gospel-love, mercy, forgiveness, respect for and worship of God, care for His people and trust that all shall be well.

Have a great year and remember we are all in this together. We are partners in the great work of Catholic education.

John Venturella,
Clearwater Central Catholic High School



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