Every year for the first three weeks of summer, the top five percent of students from the Dallas Diocesan schools come together at All Saints to participate in DECATS. The program is committed to service and fostering excellence among youth.
A normal day starts with dressing for the theme of the day. It takes an immense amount of thought to get it just right on some of the more challenging days. Next, you come (by bus or car) and join fellow students in the gym for the community meeting. Students talk to friends, hear awards and talk about upcoming events. Then everyone goes to majors, which is some students’ favorite part of the day, to do perspectives and work on their projects whether it is building roller coasters, filming a movie, practicing a play or even writing a newspaper.
After majors, all students go to lunch followed by three electives. These may be cooking, origami, Las Vegas or even dance. The options are limitless. To finish the day, all students meet again in the gym for the afternoon community meeting to select a theme for the next day and recall more upcoming events.
Students come from all over the Dallas/Fort Worth area to participate in DECATS, but why? This question befuddled many students, but after thinking about it for a few moments, they all came to similar conclusions. Sydney Hays, a student, said she came “to meet new people and make friends in the dull summer months.” There is a toleration for everyone at DECATS. You see a fellow student wearing elf ears and a tin foil hat; it is not a shocking occurrence.
Kate W., a Culinary Arts student, said, “I love DECATS: the people are accepting and I never feel ostracized when I am here. Everyone at DECATS is different, that’s why they’re here. Even the teachers and TAs/GAs are unique in their own way, that’s what makes this place special. No matter who you are or what you like to do, there is a friend for you at DECATS.”
All students agree: DECATS is different from any normal school day. There is less pressure from teachers for grades and more independence.
Another differentiation from school is that you have a substantial amount of freedom and many new people to meet. The ability to walk the halls, go into other class rooms and hang out with friends whenever you want is one major quality that attracts students to DECATS.
Students are also pushed to venture out of their comfort zones. They select a major, which includes people they have most likely never met. Students are called to invite others to lunch dates or sit with new people to get to know them.
One student, Olivia K., said, “I’ve been at Sr DECATS for two years, and I’ve never met so many amazing and talented people in my whole life.”
Written by: Reagan W., Reporter