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Just wanted to send you a note to say THANK YOU for the excellent communication and the wonderful website. I wish our school could take a lesson out of your book. My daughter loves the program and I really appreciate and admire all of you that so graciously have dedicated your time to making this a success!

Have a blessed day!

Natasha King

Becca comes home at night singing your praises! She was so excited to make her mask yesterday and my husband and I are on the road to getting back in shape now that WE also have to walk the 10,000 steps with her.

She was telling me yesterday that yoga is much harder than she thought it would be and then happily showed me all the positions the group is learning. My already flexible little girl is going to be a rubber band by the time your program is over and she will be delighted!

Thanks for everything you do to continue to inspire these remarkable scholars!


Rachel Miller

Allan LOVES DECATS! He said the mentors are always very happy, each course has parts that keep him interested, he absolutely loves Fractabulous and, yes, he is planning what he will take next year. He talks about it on the drive home and I love hearing how his day was. I am so very pleased. I wish his brother could attend; he would definitely benefit from this wonderful, positive educational environment/program.

I am really pleased with the program!

Lois Sipos

My son wasn't as excited as I was when he got nominated, but as he went throught the application process his excitement grew, mainly when he read the course descriptions. Yesterday, he told me that he really enjoys DECATS and that "Up and Over "might be his favorite course. He's not sure because he really enjoys Kaboom and Spatial Designs quite a bit.

Thank you for your commitment to the program. I am very impressed with the mentors. We enjoyed the Orientation on Sunday. My friend and I were saying how we wish they would have had this when we were children!

God Bless You,

Kathy Gregory

Katie absolutely loves DECATS. I asked her how they discipline the kids and she said they don't. I said , what do they do when you talk? Katie replies, "Mom, all we do is TALK". I love DECATS! This is just what my child needs. Thank you so much for all of your wonderful work!

Julie and Tom Jones

Thank you so much for teaching us manners. My manners have improved so much, I feel like James Bond.

Sebastian, 1st Year Scholar

I have had so much fun at DECATS. Thanks for working long and hard all year just to teach us here. We’re not the only gifted ones here. You and all the others are very gifted.

Dani, 1st Year Scholar

Thank you for planning DECATS for us. Even though I had a few difficulties, you still taught us. Thank you for everything.

Yan, 1st Year Scholar

I was so excited for Nicholas to be a part of this program that I sat up until after 1:00 last night waiting for the e-mail to come through. CRAZY, I know. It's just that we had such an amazing experience last year!

Stephanye Denison

I want to share with you that on the first day of the new school year, my daughter shook hands and introduced herself as she was taught in DECATS this past summer.  I was a bit surprised as she usually is kind of shy when meeting a new adult.  She asked if I had noticed that she was practicing what she learned in DECATS!  We have also had a number of conversations (initiated by her) about using her intelligence and abilities to help others and not just herself. DECATS has definitely made an impact on her! Thanks!

Linda Davis

I wanted to share some related feedback that the Manners efforts are bearing fruit at our house.  Our sons, Leo and Kristoph demonstrated proper noodle twirling over the weekend, and clarified that blowing on your soup was bad manners.  One of several things that I’ve observed over the last weeks for which I would like to say “thank you” to the DECATS team.

Laura Buss Sayavedra

My scholar, Emily Cooper, has brighter eyes than ever before, after just 2 DECATS days.  She reports that being around other similarly-minded scholars is energizing!

We need this program in normal school term, all year long.  Why not  a diocese-wide DECATS school?  If we have 280 scholars this summer, by 2 locations, that totals enough scholars for a year-round curriculum!  I would happily make the drive every day.

Emily becomes frustrated and bored during regular school - sometimes it is too slow and the work too basic for her, especially in math, science, art and music.  And the discipline issues are distracting.

I have already implemented the "You may" aspect into the house and she has responded immediately!

We are honored to participate in your DECATS program as first year scholars and plan to complete all available years of the program.

Moira Rankin Cooper

The first thing I remember about DECATS was having to make a portfolio in the third grade. I was extremely excited until I had to begin writing. Once I got to work I was not sure if my time was going to be worth my summer experience. I mean, I was expected to get up early, work during the summer, and attend structured classes. I decided I might as well give it a shot. Before I knew it summer was there and I started DECATS. I loved it and it was not possible to keep me away from camp since. This past summer your location changed so I was not able to attend as a graduate assistant. I was very disappointed about this, but I was pleased I was able to finish my last year as a scholar before this move took place.

Attending DECATS for four years I developed many skills. I learned about how to greet people, have a conversation that is not about weather, shake hands properly, manage money, nutrition, and I was able to give back to the place that helped me grow. DECATS also helped me broaden my horizons through many activities such as acting, yoga, art, sewing, mock-trial, and many more. You help enrich the lives of young people every summer.

I just want to thank you for the impact you have had on my life and future. I wish I could have spent more time with everyone at DECATS and had the chance to learn more. If it was up to me I would have been a graduate assistant this past summer because you have given so much to me and I would have liked to give back.

I will never forget what I learned during those four summers. I will try to enlighten the people around me with the knowledge DECATS has provided me with.

Sincerely yours,

Tori Volanski
Former DECATS Scholar

This is Robbie's first year in DECATS, and he is enjoying in greatly.  He was a little nervous at first, because he knew only one other student from his school, but he warmed up very quickly.  The effort by the mentors is appreciated, and we're looking forward to next year!

Andrea P. Wight

You have a great program.  I think you have changed my son’s life.  We have noticed big changes the last 2 yrs. when he got into school in the fall.  Last year he had a new boy in his class that had trouble in his public school.  The teachers told us Joe took an interest in him and helped him get through his math course.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so. Joe used to be a lot more selfish. 

I can’t wait to see what happens next year.

Thanks for what you are doing.

Jim Steffeck

Thank you, thank you, thank you for a fabulous first week! Our daughter, Emily Ann Torres (entering 6th at St. Ambrose), is loving every minute of her day thanks to you and the dedicated staff. This is our first year to attend DECATS and our expectations have been surpassed by light-years! Thanks again and we look forward to an amazing 2nd week.
Allison & Francisco Torres

Gabriella is in her fourth year at DECATS, John James in his second.  We call it Los Gatos at our house, courtesy of their father.  The kids drive 50 minutes each way, every day.  They get themselves up and ready and bubble over in the car for 15 minutes on the way home before falling asleep for the rest of the ride.  They say they cannot wait for summer to start, but given the option to leave DECATS, it is unspeakable!

I will never understand all the different ways DECATS had benefited our children, our family and our school community, because this is the only way we have walked.  I am certain it is priceless and worth every sacrifice.  There is no way to quantify the experience of DECATS.  Words cannot express it's impact.  Our children are blessed beyond measure.  My heartfelt thanks to every one of the individuals who work so hard to make it happen....every day it is a constellation of miracles and magic that take place and our children soak it all up and bask in the wonder.  I bring my seven year old every afternoon we can make it to share in the beauty and we sing every song by heart.   Your leadership and passion is infectious and inspiring to witness!   Imagine that learning can be fun!  If only you could bottle it!

Best wishes for a great next two weeks!

Penelope Duke Miggins

I wanted to take time to thank you so much for the last years of DECATS,  I was very skeptical of your philosophy, I even told you so.  I am a therapist and often find myself as a warrior for children with special needs.  My scholar is Madelyn Way, this her last year.  I really hope we have the time and energy to come back next year as a helper and Madelyn can experience the final course she missed out on because you all have different curriculum requirements.  She is an outstanding mentor and has hours and hours of  both leadership and service for her girl scout troop, which I lead.

Thank you for your incredible giving spirit and the wisdom you imparted to a very doubtful parent. Your philosophy works and I plan to implement it as much as possible in my practice with ADD children and families, and at home.

God Bless you and the mission you have been called to; it helps so many.

Anne Marie Way

I would like to thank you for preparing and delivering courses that the students have enjoyed so very much. And I would especially like to congratulate you on your ability to deliver the course content in an environment that is very caring, nurturing, and safe for the “gifted” student, and yet at the same time promotes independent work habits. This combination creates an exceptional atmosphere for the children to learn in.

I must admit, I was a bit concerned when I first saw Thomas’ schedule. He is known at Corpus Christi Catholic School for his love of math and science. And by luck of the draw, Thomas had received three liberal arts course for his electives. I was concerned that he would not enjoy these courses, so I asked him right after his first day of Decats if he wanted to see if we could switch one of the elective courses to one of his math or science elective choices. He said no, that he liked his elective courses. Then, just to make sure, I asked him again on the second evening of Decats if he was enjoying the program or if he wanted to switch one of his elective courses for another choice. He immediately replied “No, I do not want to switch anything. All my teachers like me.” And as the days went by, he truly was enjoying the program. The program offered Thomas a “safe” environment where he could truly enjoy a content area that was not really considered his “strongest” area of talent. If he wasn’t perfect, that was okay. He felt accepted even if he displayed the personality traits of a “gifted” student.

Thank you for all of your hard work and patience.


Linda Hopson and Jim Sutherland

A big THANK YOU to you all great mentors of DECATS!  There is no better way to start my daughter's summer vacation than attend this wonderful and priceless three-week summer camp.  She enjoyed every minute of it and liked the idea of being able to choose the courses that she hopes to be in and the switching of classrooms. 

Just like you, JESUS is the superhero in our family. We believe that if we put Jesus first, everything else will follow.  The spiritual atmosphere that you provide is what attracted me the most.  As a parent, there is nothing more I want for my daughter than to learn to love JESUS with all her heart. 

Once again, THANK YOU for a job well done!  Let us continue to love not in word or speech, but in truth and action. More power to you ALL.


It appears that once again your wonderful program is enhancing the life of our child in a multitude of ways. To be able to use each moment as a teaching moment can have no greater impact on a child's development.

Melva Comfort

Both David and Monica are having a great time at DECATS!  David is thrilled with his Science of Superheroes course and had a lot of fun making more polymer this past weekend.  Monica can't stop talking about her courses either.  She's very excited about the opportunity to perform as a Who in the Broadway presentation, is very proud to have her name in print in the DECATS Digest, and loves talking about Greek gods! Thanks for another superb year of DECATS.  This is David's last year of eligibility, but he'd like to be an aide next year and Monica is definitely looking forward to coming back!

Patti Lampton

I just want to take a minute to tell you how totally impressed I am with DECATS.  I know it will be an awesome experience for my daughter, Lauryn.  I stayed through out the opening activities this morning because I so enjoyed watching your staff “control the crowd.”  I am sure most mothers don’t fully appreciate how difficult it is to manage 200+ students effectively (and positively!) but as a school psychologist, I do.  I taught a graduate course on effective teaching at LSU for many years, and you guys are straight out of the text book.  Thanks so much for being so proactive and positive!


Lisa A. Moore-Ferguson

Wow!  This is our first year at DECATS and we all vote "wow!" Our William says his favorite course is Snakes Alive!  He says the best part about the course is that he gets to hold the snakes.  He is also enjoying DECATS 911 and Blood and Guts.  We've heard about CPR, the ambulance, the defibrillator, and much more.  We've heard about dissecting the frog, worm, starfish, sheep's eyeballs, and the upcoming pig uterus dissection (he's really looking forward to dissecting the pig uterus).  He went on and on and on about the beauty of the fish gall bladder ("Exquisite, greenish-blueish, but a little squishy," he said).  Three names we keep hearing:  Mrs. Distledorf, Mrs. Keating, and Luke Kramer (our new friend).  Manners to Morals is an excellent idea.  We gave William an order pad on the first day home from DECATS -- dubbed him the Polite Policeman and gave him permission to ticket any family member who did not follow proper etiquette.  It's been fun!  William is really looking forward to the restaurant field trip.  We also like the motto - "Better at does not mean better than!"  Thanks to you and your staff for an excellent program!  You all are super heroes!

Zoë Krizak

Mr. Barone,

We are fairly new to the Houston area so this is our first year for DECATS.  Both of our kids are having a great time and we are very impressed with the program.  At first, we were not sure whether to give up so large a portion of our summer break to attend.  Our school, St. Anthony of Padua, did a fine job of trying to promote the program to the nominees and their parents by having past scholars come and speak to us along with showing the DVD.  However, as good a job as that was, it could not do justice to the feeling achieved by DECATS.  I am only sorry for some of our friends who elected not to apply as they are missing out on something very special.  Some of them are attending sports camps, some are on vacation. some are just enjoying their freedom.  We decided to take a chance which required rearranging our vacation and giving up a 5 year long tradition of a Christian camp in Dallas with friends.  It was the best decision we ever made. 

I will try to list by number the positive aspects of DECATS as this is the only way I can keep track.  There are so many.

1.  There is an amazing theme of responsibility and respect which pervades throughout each and every activity.  This is such an important thing for kids of this age.  And it is great to see that the examples and boundaries set on the first day FOLLOW THROUGH all the way to the end.

2.  I came the first morning worrying a bit about my 11 year old son as boys sometimes seem to have their own agenda of fun.  I left their floored by the fact that each of my concerns had already been addressed (without asking) in the first 30 minutes of camp.  There was plenty of time given to noise, talking, screaming, and all other "heebie jeebie" releasing activities before focus time.  The Golden Plunger Award was a stroke of genius.  It's a real kid pleaser and Max's favorite part of the celebration.  And what a great idea actually planning sidebar conversations while putting other children on the microphone trying to speak.  I was able to cross "disrespect" off my list also.  Another wonderful thing I see are some very understanding mentors going around making sure that no one is "too cool" to participate at least a little in the singing/moving part of the daily celebrations.  Max isn't fully there yet but I get a chuckle everytime I see a mentor move in on his little group of friends during the "Lean on Me" and and hand shaking songs.  Which brings me to branching out to meet new people.  I think this point is very self explanatory.

3.  Lots of opportunities for trying out leadership skills.  My husband and I are very entertained by the many ingenious ways my 9 year old daughter has found to get herself up on that stage.  She seems to consider it a personal challenge to be a part of things up there as often as possible.  We are hoping this rubs off on her brother.

4.  Can't say enough about the academics.  Many of the camps, even the academic ones, turn out to be no more than glorified arts and crafts.  However, we knew this was not the case when Max came home almost immediately from Blood and Guts class with stories of active dissection.  I am so glad he received this course as I think it put him over the top on choosing to come again next year.  His curiosity for 'blood and guts" is slowly being satisfied in this course.  He was already getting tired of the "little" animals and was excited to move on to the "better ones".  Excitement lies ahead in anticipation of the fetal pig.  His sister has commented on the "horrible smell" coming from the Blood and Guts room.  Max laughed at her and said it was just formaldehyde. He has come home with various humor inducing techniques from Funny Farm which he has tried out on the family.  A League of Your Own has tickled his statistic fancy.  He loves looking up any kind of stats and he loves baseball.  He has no idea he is learning how to start a business.  He thinks he is having fun.  Every "fun" course has cleverly hidden education within.  Max talks quite a bit about who might be in more than one of his courses.  He was pleased to "partner up" with the same boy in two of his courses. 

5.  I worked years ago in the business world for 15 years.  My favorite bosses have always been the ones who never expected more out of you than they were willing to give themselves.  Every mentor from the top down fully participates in EVERYTHING.  Kids learn by example not by lecturing.

6.  Every course seems to give what it promised.  Jackie has been giving us blow by blow updates on her 3 courses of Culture Clash, Got Greek, and Calculation Crime Scene.  The thought that goes into these courses is unbelievable.  In Culture Clash the kids are encouraged to use their imagination to the fullest to come up with a unique new culture.   It is intriguing to see some of the fictitious artifacts and traditions they have come up with.  She was excited to be able to choose things like gills, wings, and beaks.  And we know more than we ever wanted to know about death rituals.  She spent a lot of time on that one.  To explore archaeology and anthropology at 9 years old is unheard of.  I was wondering how far DECATS could go with Greek Mythology and I found that they went all the way to Olympics participation!   She has been talking about the upcoming chariot races.  And we now know that their were two groups of Greeks - the Spartans and the Athens.  We also know why they participated in the olympics without clothing - so no girls could sneak in.  Not a bad way to learn about women's rights.  CSI is also very real.  Real equipment, real data, proving witness stories, body measurement, etc.  She feels this is a great course to have before Verdict which she will try for again next year.

7.  It is an enormously important experience for scholars with leadership skills to be up against others with the same skills.   Sometimes kids begin to take their gifts for granted if they are not sufficiently challenged or if things have always come easy for them.  They can be surprised and refreshed to see how many others there are out there who also like to lead and that they have to work a lot harder to compete at that level.  Since Jackie is only a 3rd grader (but usually a leader), she has had to deal with older group leaders.  At first this was a challenge as she couldn't choose the jobs she wanted.  Fortunately we were equipped with orientation information and we were ready with the advice for this one.  She found that doing her part was very rewarding and the jobs she was given were probably more rewarding than the ones she thought she wanted.  Being part of the team was fun and has her looking forward to being a 4 year returning scholar so she can someday be a team leader.  This is her goal.

8.  Catholic/Christian values abound.  Music, actions, thoughts, etc. 

9.  Manners and Perspectives are great ideas.  I do wish that Max would be able to have the benefit of all four years for these two courses.  I don't see any way of doing that with scholars who come in at the 5th grade level.  But again, DECATS goes the distance with the rewarding field trip.  We are hearing great stories about DECATS "shipping in big loads of spaghetti" to practice twirling before the trip.  Perspectives is most interesting as it is unlikely that these scholars will receive this type of counseling anywhere else.  I have always thought that all negative traits have a positive side (i.e. stubbornness could lead to saying no to drugs).  Perspectives can turn pride and conceit into responsibility and service.  This is very much in line with the Catholic education which molds the entire person and not just the brain.

10.  Public speaking is something that a very large percentage of people avoid.  While the scholars are raising their hands to have a turn at the mike every chance they get, and taking turns presenting their course achievements, they do not realize that they are acquiring a skill that will help them in every aspect of their lives.  Their comfort level increases each time they get up there.

I was beginning to feel a little mean during the last few weeks of school knowing that I was sending Max and Jackie to 3 more weeks of school.   As I mentioned earlier, many of their friends elected to do other things.  But they have had so much fun and have learned so much that I can't imagine having done anything else.  I have tried to explain to friends the quality of the education, the caliber of the directors and mentors, the overall good feeling of the daily celebrations our family has experienced, and why they should consider it next year.  But it is difficult to explain because words are not feelings.  DECATS has surpassed all of our expectations.  The weekend after the first week, Max was choosing next year's courses and Jackie was pouting because she had to wait until Monday to go back.  I know it must be a struggle for the directors and mentors to keep things fun and to keep the attention of these scholars, especially during summer break.  But I hope they keep it up because it is working.  The quality of this program could easily slide without the passion of the people running it.

I know all leaders like to have some constructive criticism but I really can't come up with any.  If I were forced to make suggestions, I would probably say it is too bad that you personally couldn't make it to each and every Catholic school in the area to speak about the morals and ideas this program is trying to provide.  People have a tendency to look only at the academic courses (which are also a huge incentive).  When I asked the kids for some suggestions, Max said he thought the boys would "work harder to keep the bathrooms clean if they all got to take the victory lap".  I know this is difficult with so many scholars.  That was their only complaint.

I hope you managed to make it through this lengthy email.  But I thought you deserved as much feedback as possible since you have obviously put so much time and dedication into it.  Good luck during the last week.  The Brants will be sorry to see it end.

Thanks so much,

Linda Brant

Words are not enough to thank you for the outstanding experience you two (along with an awesome team of Super Heroes) are providing for our children. This is my daughter's first year at DECATS and she LOVES IT!

So, I would like to throw stones, I mean present stones to you two in appreciation for your dedication. First, a gray stone for the remarkable curriculum provided. It was almost too difficult to chose. Second, a gold stone for your constant show of compassion and patience with the scholars. As an educator myself, I realize what a blessing it is to be so patient and understanding. You truly are good as gold. GREAT JOB! Last, but not least, a red stone for your genuine love for what you are doing for our children. Your kind spirits show in every word and gesture. God bless you.

Thanks again and I look forward to hearing about what happened at DECATS everyday!


Lisa Gonzales

Adam comes home every day with tales of the goings on at DECATS.  He is obviously enjoying every day.


Mike Carr

We are writing this letter of thanks and commendation in recognition of the exemplary DECATS program that was held in June. Our two sons, John Paul and Adam, had the opportunity to attend the 2002 summer session for their first time. As we are new to the area, we were not familiar with DECATS prior to their participation. The three-week session far surpassed our hopes and expectations for a summer enrichment program.

John Paul and Adam had a truly inspiring experience at DECATS. They looked forward to attending each day and readily shared the events of the day with our family each evening. Even during the last few days, their excitement and interest in the program never dwindled; rather, it appeared to escalate to the point that they knew they would be disappointed when the session ended. By the end of the three weeks they displayed a new level of self-confidence and knowledge, along with a desire to continue to work at the skills introduced by their mentors.

The program was highly motivating and very well organized. Mr. Barone was very visible during the three weeks and he did an excellent job overseeing all aspects of the program. The mentors were genuine and creative in their presentation of information. They appeared to be passionate teachers and they definitely had a positive impact on our sons. We feel that both of our children were appropriately challenged and encouraged to perform to their maximum potential. THey were frequently praised for their efforts and they were made to feel comfortable with their level of participation.

By the end of the three weeks, the DECATS Scholars truly appeared to be a cohesive group in terms of the respect they had for each other and their mentors. It was encouraging to see the Christian values and behaviors that were modeled by Mr. Barone and the mentors. The spirit of DECATS was most inspiring and uplifting.

We feel fortunate and blessed that our sons had the opportunity to attend DECATS this summer. We would like to thank you and the Foundation board members for supporting such a "model" enrichment program. Our family is most grateful for your commitment and investment in the development of the children in DECATS.

God bless you,

Faron and Cecile Thibodeaux

My daughter Megan has attended DECATS the past three summers and she, my wife, and myself have been thoroughly satisfied with every aspect of the program. The entire staff has been positive, supportive, professional, and creative with everything done in a faith-based environment. In addition to challenging the Scholars intellectually, the program also nurtures maturity, respect for peers and elders, and promotes self-esteem in each and every participant. And everything is done in such an enjoyable and positive manner that most of the time the Scholars are having so much fun they don’t realize how much they are evolving.

Burt Eschenfelder

At the start of our journey (and it is a journey of oneself) my daughter and I were so utterly excited about the chance to be part of the DECATS family. Just the notion that she was selected seemed wonderful and too great to believe. But as the summer started and we made the trek, day after day, the newness wore off, and we started finally to realize the marvel of the program. It wasn’t just the honor of being in the program, but it was the piece of the program that fit for my daughter; the piece that she was missing was to belong to a group, a community, a “family.” Remember that this too could be your son’s / daughter’s missing piece that could put them in the right site of “belonging.”

My son has “belonged” to DECATS, my younger daughter is attending her second season of DECATS, and the daughter I mentioned above will be completing her fourth year of DECATS. It has been the best part of summer for each of them.

I won’t even begin to write about God’s Angels we call Mentors (the teachers selected for DECATS). I taught for six years prior to staying home and having children, and it is an understatement when I say: They are unbelievable!

Ruth Laake

My kids are LOVING it!  I can't imagine what you all must do to make it so awesome, and I am so grateful.  John James told me last night when I was tucking him into bed, "I can't wait for DECATS tomorrow!"

Maria Grace, our 6 year old, is learning the songs and already planning her schedule!

Many thanks and see you soon!

Penelope Miggins

I have a good feedback to give you about your program. Few months ago, a couple we know from my son's school, complimented Zachary. They were impressed on his handshake and most important, that he held eye contact as he spoke with them. My husband and I told Zachary about it, and he reminded us that he had learn it at DECATS.  We are glad he was paying attention!

The couple's daughter is now enrolled to attend DECATS this summer and we hope that it will be a positive experience for her as it was for Zachary.


Monica and Duane Warren

Both David and Monica are having a great time at DECATS! David is thrilled with his Science of Superheroes course and had a lot of fun making more polymer this past weekend. Monica can't stop talking about her courses either. She's very excited about the opportunity to perform as a Who in the Broadway presentation, is very proud to have her name in print in the DECATS Digest, and loves talking about Greek gods!

Thanks for another superb year of DECATS. This is David's last year of eligibility, but he'd like to be an aide next year and Monica is definitely looking forward to coming back!

Patti Lampton

Dear Mr. Barone,

I wanted to let you know what a wonderful time my daughter Katherine has had this summer. She is so not the morning person and to have her jump out of bed and ready to go every morning is such an example of the first statement. She has learned so much and has helped her brother and sister learn so much about manners and dining out. The have started calling her the manners police. We had a small talk about that as well. Katherine has also cooked several dinners for us as a family and now gives me such a great hand in the kitchen. Even without asking...and that in itself is so wonderful.

Thanks for the Love and Leadership you give of yourself,

Ruth Laake

I would just like to thank you both for all your hard (and late night) work on the website and communications in general for the DECATS parents.

You were one step ahead of every question that I had.  Information the child brings home sometimes does not relay exactly as it should to the parent. Your attention to details did not go unnoticed.  You and your fellow mentors are truly top-notch.

Thanks again,

Teresa Sims

Thanks for everything. This is Danny's last year at DECATS and we are going to miss the program next year. You have done a great job with the scholars and Danny has thrived as a result. He has learned many lessons over the past three weeks and will be a better person because of this program. Hopefully, my daughters will have the opportunity to attend in the future. Best of luck to you and the staff and again, thank you for everything!

Paula Amsler

Thanks for sharing the story on responsibility. Very timely. We definitely need to incorporate the next growth steps into our daily living.

You asked for feedback and I just want to say that Megan has thoroughly enjoyed her DECATS experience. From the welcoming ceremony to the first day to every day she has enjoyed the time spent with the mentors and her fellow scholars. She is particularly excited about the presentation at closing ceremony.

We were completely unaware of the DECATS program until she was nominated by her principal, Jan Krametbauer at SEAS this past January. All of our hopes and expectations regarding how rewarding and fulfilling the program would be have been actualized and then some!

She was so upset to have missed Monday because of the weather - in fact she asked if she could make the day up! Not something I would have expected to hear from her in school or in her regular summer camp.

Your staff has been fantastic!

We hope the DECATS experience is something Megan can be a part of until her 6th grade year - we truly believe what you are doing with these scholars is fantastic!  Summers for Megan have been quite long over the last few years as she has "aged"! This time at DECATS has helped her in achieving that next level of growth and maturity and for that we are truly grateful. I think back to your words at opening ceremony about some folks saying they are lucky to be here. I completely agree with your comment that we are blessed to be here. Many thanks to you, the mentors and DeBusk Foundation for creating and actualizing such an enriching program.  We hope to see you next year and we hope that we can give back in a meaningful way to this program.


Carol & Burt Eschenfelder

Everyday Alex comes home telling me that DECATS is the BEST!!!! She comes home singing and just loves her day!!! She loves the afternoon closing program. Loves all of her courses. She is making so many new friends and seeing old ones from last year.  Thank you so much for giving her this opportunity, this is her third year back and is already telling me she can't wait for next year.

One of the things that impressed her the most, was the first day back this year, all of the mentors remembered her name. She felt very special. Thank you.


Fran Bellafatto

Thanks for your communication. This approach is very familiar to our children as we read the book "Parenting with Love and Logic" about 15 years ago when our oldest was a toddler. I feel this approach is a very good way to develop decision-making skills as well as teaching responsible behavior.

Thank you for continuing this approach with the children in your charge.

By the way, Adam comes home every day with tales of the goings on at DECATS.  He is obviously enjoying every day.


Mike Carr

Nicholas is absolutely thriving in DECATS yet again.  He is in a great mood when he comes home every day.

One of the things he shared with us recently is that “in DECATS, if you forget your bag, the mentors won't let you go and get it and Mr. Barone said that is the most loving thing to do!” He has also been marching around the house a lot lately and teaching his younger brother to march.  It's so cute.

He loves his DECATS 9-1-1 course and his Greek course, and Perspectives.

Contrast regular school to his DECATS experience, and he is excited about life again - more loving to his siblings and more helpful around the house.  Yesterday, when DECATS was closed, he offered to vacuum the living room for me!  He's the sweet boy I know again.

You have him in the palm of your hand right now and he absorbs everything that is said at DECATS. You all are doing such an excellent job. I can't tell you what it means to us as parents to see our Nicholas thriving spiritually, mentally and emotionally as he does at DECATS.

Thanks so much for this outstanding program!

Alyce Hoge

Catherine and Andrew Young are loving DECATS.

It is hard to say what they love the most, because they talk about EVERYTHING.

Andrew loves the snakes. I'm so thankful that no snake can be adopted ... We have two rats from last year. I can believe how much he is loving My Great Grandfathers War. I asked him if he liked history as much at school and he said "NO WAY! DECATS is a lot more exciting.” He is also having a blast in Fantasy Adventures.

Catherine comes home telling me all about what they cooked in Kitchen Magicians. She thinks it is great that "she gets to help with the costume for the last day performance." And she is looking all over the place for "gadgets" to take to Multiple Mediums.

They both tell me what is going on with Manners to Morals and Perspectives. Catherine can't wait to go "out to eat."

Both of them were upset that DECATS was rained out yesterday.  I wouldn't have gotten that response had school got rained out.

I do have an idea though.  How about making a CD of all the songs they sing each year.  I know that my kids sing them ALL YEAR LONG.  I know it is Catherine's first year, but she knows all the song for the past two years.  And both kids talk about what the new songs will be.

Tim and I love this program and tell everyone we know how wonderful you are.

Thanks a million,

Charlotte Young

Thank you for helping the kids grow....Thank you for helping me to grow. Wake-up calls are appreciated. We have NOT let Tyler experience natural consequences of his choices. In reading some of your material prior to joining DECATS, we decided to slowly allow Tyler to take some responsibility for himself. One item included taking his own clothes from the laundry room and putting them away, but you may NOT dress from your basket in the laundry room...It only took one time with no clean underwear in his room and he got the message. We always assumed he was absent minded, he is not...We, the parents, are well trained. Once again, we found if we just let him know what is expected he can meet the expectation .....most times exceed it.  


Tanya Morland

This is a great scenario and one I hope the kids learn from. Both of my scholars were familiar with your example.  hank you. Gabby, my oldest, talks a lot about her Burden of Proof course and Executive Functioning. Bella, my second daughter, LOVES the Write Stuff and the new friends she is making. I cannot say enough about your program to anyone who will listen and the girls are the same way. Thank you all so so much.

Missy Cadelago

Our son is so thrilled with your wonderful program, he can't wait to leave home in the morning and or to stop speaking of his accomplishments and all the new learning experiences.

Your outstanding program exceeds all our expectations. We appreciate the fact that each moment of the day is utilized for helping our child to completely understand the consequences for each choice made and for recognizing the important fact that the ability to "process" is crucial for the development of executive or higher ordered function. Thank you for your e-mail and for reminding us parents that we must not impair our children by coming to their "rescue."

Melva Comfort

My daughter, Nneoma, talks about all the different courses that she is in, but loves Entertainment EnigmaS so much that she is disappointed if I came early to get her. We bargained, or rather, she bargained that I not arrive sooner that 4:20pm. That says a lot for how she feels about the program.


Nonye Oradigewu

Rebecca is truly enjoying her DECATS experience. She especially likes the Snakes course. She was a little disappointed that she didn't get her first choice overall, the Blood and Guts course but she was very happy to get her second overall choice. Maybe next year she'll get blood and Guts!

Thanks for all that you did to get Rebecca in the program - she's lovin' it!

Sandi Weberlein

Taylor and Lindsay are having a great time at DECATS.  You and the staff are doing a terrific job!

Thanks for convincing Lindsay to attend!

Ali Rust

Thank you for taking the time to keep the parents informed about what is happening at DECATS.  The information about building responsibility in our young scholars prompted me to send you this email. The DECATS program has been so beneficial for my son, now in his third year. My daughter is attending this year also, and we have already seen a change in her. I commend you and your staff for making such a difference in their lives. Have you guys thought about a one day course or publishing a "guide" for the parents, something to help us to continue to build the self confidence and value of responsibility in our children as well as the other values instilled upon them after they finish the DECATS program? Being a parent can be hard enough, and most of us feel we are doing a pretty good job, but there might be things we can do better for the benefit of our children. 

Again, thank you for making such a positive difference in my children's lives.


Tim Young

Annie is having another great year. DECATS Digest is just the thing for her, she was really worried about how yesterday's cancellation due to rain would affect the production. Mrs. D. is a guiding force in Perspectives II. These are the sessions that she speaks of most.

K Crea

Our daughter Courtney is truly having a positive experience at DECATS. She comes home full of excitement and wanting to share her day with my wife and me. She talks most about her cooking course.

We are already talking about next year. Thank you for going such a great job! 

Thank you,

David Johnston

I wanted to let you know that our son, Cristian, is really enjoying DECATS.  In fact, he was very disappointed yesterday when I told him that he would have to stay home on account of the rain. 

When my wife first told me about DECATS, I was convinced that Cristian would not want to go to school during the summer.  I thought for sure he'd rather be playing with his friends or staying home.  I freely admit that I was wrong.  I suppose I was projecting my own attitudes on him. 

I was just a regular knot-headed kid.  You couldn't have dragged me to school during the summer.  I sometimes forget that he's special.

Thanks for all you've done. 

Jerry Johnson

I agree 110%.  I'm a teacher in this diocese and I try to implement logical consequences.  It's not always easy when dealing with parents.

We do our children no favors when we "rescue" them all the time.  Failure is part of the learning process. 

God gave us a full range of emotions, not just "happy."  It is important that children learn how to handle all of their emotions appropriately.

Ginger loves DECATS.  She was upset that it was cancelled yesterday due to inclement weather.  Keep up the good work!

Thank you,

Katey Middleton

Thank you so much for sending this.  Aubrey is having a great time this year and is really enjoying her courses.  You guys do a great job!

Jessica Henry

I was not aware that you personally set all the schedules for the students.  I was happy to know that you do strive for a balanced schedule as the web site suggests.  Christina is very happy with her courses and seems to be enjoying DECATS so far.

Ruth Soisson

DECATS has been a wonderful experience for my kids and the kids of many other families.

I hope DECATS continues for years to come. My youngest, Michael, steps up to the DECATS plate next year when he gets into 3rd grade. In fact, now that Gregory is in his last year of DECATS, he wants to be a volunteer aide next year! How about that for customer satisfaction!

Keep up the great job!

Very respectfully,

Pete Cerna

I just wanted to let you all know how special DECATS was for Nicholas. He has benefited from DECATS greatly and did not want it to end. I know you already know how special your program is and how thankful we are as parents for your dedication to our children, but I also wanted to let you know as an education professional how much I applaud your efforts to teach responsibility as the core of your curriculum. Nowhere else but here could this combination of content and guidance be achieved. I work with a lot of dedicated teachers and a lot of gifted students. I know that each of them would love to be a part of something like DECATS and would have loved to have been able to participate in a program like yours as young Scholars. For Nicholas, his mother, and I, to be so blessed is truly evidence of grace. Thank you for bestowing God's grace on my on.

Dr. Brad Hoge

I want to extend my thanks to you. You have done a wonderful job with this program and it was incredibly beneficial for Aubrey, my daughter.

We are looking forward to next summer!!

Jessica Henry

Jimmy has had such a wonderful experience at DECATS these last 3 weeks and he keeps talking about other courses that he would like to take next year. 

Thank you for your leadership and enthusiasm!! I had the pleasure of attending some of the morning and afternoon group sessions. It was very evident to see the commitment, talent and spirit of inclusion exhibited by all the mentors. This program is wonderful because of the leadership of your mentor team. Tom and I really appreciate the time that all of you have taken to make this program so great.  You are making a big difference to these scholars and we hope that Jimmy will have the opportunity to work with you for another 3 years.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!!

Thanks again,
Tom and Sue Pignetti

When I came back to the office after being on vacation, I found your kind invitation to the DECATS Ten Year Celebration. Sorry to have missed it. DECATS has been a fine program in our diocese. It has helped to provide many of our students with special educational challenges and opportunities, and we are most grateful.

Sally Landram
Superintendent of Schools
Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

I just completed my evaluation and won't go over it all again, but I do want to make sure that you know how very much we appreciated all of your help and assistance from application process until the very end. You were extra kind in making sure we got our application in and answered everything along the way. You were blessed with many gifts and you certainly bestowed one upon us. As you will see from the evaluation, this was an experience that certainly renewed much in Haley's life and in mine. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Much thanks for you, all the DECATS mentors and aides, and DeBusk Foundation for an invaluable gift.

Warm regards,
Judy Jozwiak

I wanted to personally thank you for your role in this scholastic program. Paige gained immensely from the experiences of this program.

Robert R. Burton

I first want to thank you and the teachers for a wonderful closing ceremony today. It was so uplifting and I was really amazed by all the great songs the children had learned.

Once again, we thank you for an amazing three weeks and look forward to seeing you again next summer! 

Tonya Salinas

Dear Mr. Manuel DeBusk and DeBusk Foundation,

Today was the last day of DECATS for my 10 year old son, Travis. This was Travis’ second year at DECATS. Travis is a petite 10 year old with many gifts. Unfortunately, in his mind, his most prominent gift is his IQ and he has often described himself as a geek. He does not fit in with the athletic crowd at school but finds a place with Cub Scout friends and DECATS friends. His experiences at DECATS have opened a whole new world to him. Once embarrassed to sing in public he belts out songs and dances with the best of them. Inhibition seems to melt away and he is comfortable with himself.  The manners taught there are reinforcement to the manners we teach at home. It’s funny how it sinks in when someone other than Mom and Dad explain them. He has discovered there are a lot of other kids like him and he is not the geek he once thought he was.  Instead of asking what ‘real boys do’ he jumps right into new things with confidence I’ve never seen before. After his course “Let’s get Board” (on board games) he not only continues to enjoy playing board games but is always cooking up new games. He and the neighbor kids can be found rolling dice and making their way around the imaginary board game that is my house. He is reaching to new heights in all areas and is sharing the gifts he has been given with friends. On the way home from DECATS each day he and the other scholars plan their schedules for DECATS next year. Travis is already planning to return as an aide when he is too old to return as a scholar.  My 7 year old daughter is also enamored.  She looks forward to the day she can have her turn to go to DECATS. As a teacher and a Mom your program is a dream come true.

Thank you so much for giving this opportunity to our children. The gift of self esteem is priceless.  It is central to their whole lives and futures. Your money is well spent and your trust is well placed with Mr. Barone and company. We look forward to many more years at DECATS.

Donna Hunter

I would like to inform you that Peter is having such a good time at DECATS. He really enjoys every period, but I think that Blood and Guts is his favorite - he can't stop talking about it, in fact, he talks about DECATS all the time, since open house, he was so excited!

I'm so glad that my son has this great opportunity and at the same time kind of sad, because this is his first and last chance because of his age.

I want to thank you for this great job that you and your group of mentors do so wonderfully. THANKS!

Have a great day, May God Bless You.

Alicia Yanagisawa

The Closing Celebration was delightful. I wish everyday school were filled with such excitement. I believe it can be. The two students from St. Joseph thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Thank you and all the people that make DECATS possible. I am anxious to see what parts of the program Andrew and Noah bring back to share with their peers.

God bless you in your work.

Ann Mullins
Principal, St. Joseph Catholic School

My sons really enjoyed DECATS this year and talk about it constantly. All of the mentors did a fabulous job!

Barbara DeVries

What a wonderful program! This is year five to be driving to the program on various sides of town. All three daughters have been blessed with participation, and I am an avid supporter and promote it by word of mouth to friends and family. Kudos to DECATS. The manners course has added to our family's positive interaction.

Diane Thornton

Just wanted to let you know, Chrissy came home yesterday and set the table for us. She took a teaspoon and asked if it was a teaspoon or an entree spoon. Well, we don't have the "proper entree spoon," but she used our serving spoons as our entree spoons. Eating our soup from the big serving spoons was a treat. It was too cute! Thank you so much for all you are doing. The kids are having a great time. Keep out the great work!

Mary Lynn Calhoun

I wanted to let you know that John Plugge is practicing what he's learning in Manners to Morals. He set the table for our Sunday dinner "all the way," with all necessary knives, forks, spoons, glasses, bread plates, napkins, and even burning candles - everything for a properly set table. He was passing on his newfound knowledge to his big sister as they set the table together. What a beautiful table! And when dessert came, he even remembered to wait to dig in until everyone had been served their dessert! Sounds like the mentors will have very enjoyable lunch companions on Wednesday at Carrabbas.

The three Scholars in my carpool - Lohr, Plugge, and Friend - are all having a great time at DECATS! They don't even mind the long car rides each day. Thanks to all the mentors and staff involved for sharing their time, talent, and interests with us.

Kathy Plugge

Andrew Young is having a BLAST!  DECATS is all we hear about.  From the time we pick him up (along with Noah Clark), until he goes to bed, he is telling us something he learned.  Poor Noah can't even get a word in.  I have to tell Andrew to hush up and give Noah a chance to speak.

I can't wait to tell Andrew's school all about your program. 

Thank you so much,
Charlotte Young

I would like to express our excitement that our son Andrew Romo is fortunate to be part of such a unique learning experience.  Thank you for your beautiful words you spoke and sang at the orientation.  You all are truly God's gift's to our Scholar who does not completely understand his gifts yet!  Thank you for your commitment to all of our Scholars.

Minnie and Andrew Romo

My daughter, Marcee Osborne, is enjoying your program :) Thank you for giving her this unique summer opportunity. She has a blast in her Broadway course and of course the others, such as Manners to Morals and Perspectives I are also her favorites. She said her mentors are all super!

Best regards,
TJ & Kristi Osborne

My daughter, Brianna Sharum, is having a great time! I must admit that when I found out the hours involved (including carpool time), I was not sure how she would react. In fact, she seems to love the algebra, speech, and digest courses. She is also enjoying the carpool time with old and new friends. During the drive, they are sharing details of their daily courses with each other. I couldn't ask for a better reaction from Bri! Kudos to the DECATS mentors!

Sally Sharum

On Monday, Patrick couldn't stop singing that "I'm singing in the rain, boom-chocka-chocka" song. He was in an infectiously good mood. That's wonderfully good feedback in my book. Thanks and keep up the good work!

Jane Granahan

Hello again! Yes -- Taylor has told me EVERY day how much fun she is having -- she was really excited the first day that she made new friends, too. As soon as she gets in the car in the afternoon, she starts telling me about things she did in every one of her courses ... and in the morning she is so looking forward to the day at DECATS. (I'm already hoping she will do well enough on her SAT and grades next year to get nominated again... :) ) Thanks for all that you are doing.

Megan Ryan

Alex talks about her DECATS day for quite some time after I pick her up. She is really having a good time and is sharing what she is learning. She is teaching everyone what a proper handshake should be. Thank you for what you have already done and for what I am sure is to come in the next couple of weeks.

Fran Bellafatto

My daughter Jane Granahan forwarded your email "First Days of DECATS", and I would like to respond that our third grade grandson Patrick is completely taken by the program and speaks highly of all of his mentors.

Russ McClaine

My daughter and I have been talking about DECATS all week in the car and at dinner. Anyway, we both like DECATS at St. Rose of Lima because it is down to earth. The mentors make you feel so welcome as a parent. 

The man who does the music is really super! The kids seem really motivated during this time. I think that this is something new and different that really needs to be added to the Catholic faith. I was just totally surprised with the music and all, but think that it is really great.

The mentors have been really helpful to me. They deserve a really big thank you for giving up their time to help these kids.

Thanks again for your time.

Teresa Glosson

I want to tell you what a blessing DECATS has been for our daughter Madeline. She is by nature an introvert but each day she has found such joy in meeting new people and being challenged to "go beyond!" Thank you for the wonderful program that we are experiencing ... not just our daughter, but our family!

Claire Pelletier

Adam J. Gomez was in the first class of DECATS at Corpus Christi. He is now a senior at DeBakey High School for Health Professions ranked #3. He has college offers from Harvard, NYU and Rice University. The summer he spent at DECATS was wonderful. He finally realized that he was a "gifted" young man and not to be ashamed.

Since that time he has used his gifts and talents to help others in community service-Habitat for Humanity,

and as an Intern at UTMB in Galveston in the cloning research lab. He will be attending college to become a doctor to help others. I thank Mr. De Busk for such an important program and the wonderful DECATS Staff that allows these students to claim their gifts and teach them that with these gifts comes responsibility to the world around them.

God bless you,

Lucy A. Gomez

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