For many people in Beverly, Morgan Park and Mt. Greenwood, their parish and their elementary school are a big part of their identity.

The people who are the bedrock of those schools will serve as the grand marshal of the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“Thankful for Catholic Elementary School Teachers” will lead the parade when it marches down Western Avenue on March 15, beginning at noon.

Teachers from 16 area schools will be honored—Christ the King, Most Holy Redeemer, Queen of Martyrs, St. Barnabas, St. Bede the Venerable, St. Benedict, St. Cajetan, St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Christina, St. Ethelreda, St. Gerald, St. Germaine, St. John Fisher, St. Linus, St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Walter.

At a time of uncertainty for many Catholic elementary schools, those educators are a great choice.

Local residents are fortunate to have options for their children’s education, and knowing that Catholic schools have teachers committed to helping children socially and academically, while doing their work for salaries that pale in comparison to those of other educators, is comforting.

The parade committee made a fine choice by including schools not only from Beverly, Morgan Park and Mt. Greenwood, as students from schools in those neighborhoods often end up becoming high school classmates with kids from the other schools. Students from these schools often interact in sports and extracurricular activities, and they will assuredly be proud watching their teachers at the parade.

The honoree of the parade is the Tom Hopkins Foundation. It is named after the late Tom Hopkins, a Morgan Park resident who was devoted to local youth athletics. After his death in 2014, his children created the foundation that donates money to families battling cancer and to the athletic departments of Catholic elementary schools.

The foundation’s Papa Hops 16-inch Softball Tournament attracts thousands of people every summer. The 32-team competition attracts the best players in the Chicago area, with players building their rosters all year in hopes of playing in the championship under the lights at Kennedy Park.

Representatives from the foundation will surely have thousands of supporters cheering again when they march down Western Avenue.

Proudly touting its Catholic identity and donating to charitable causes are the two of the most admirable traits of this community. As such, Catholic elementary school teachers and the Tom Hopkins Foundation are fitting selections to lead the parade on March 15.