It’s that time of year again. Sometimes I feel as if I am on an ever accelerating roller coaster known as the Holiday Express. This year the coaster seems to be in hyper drive! Within the last three weeks, we have celebrated the 125th anniversary of the school, Halloween, All Saints’ Day, sang Christmas carols at the Rosary Altar Society’s Christmas bazaar, and currently are beginning preparations for the school’s Thanksgiving luncheon. Whew! I get tired just thinking of it.
The 125th anniversary of St. Mary’s School was celebrated on Monday, October 29. The celebration opened with a special Mass with Archbishop Dennis Schnurr as presider. The archbishop concelebrated the Mass with Fr. White, Fr. Harold Kist, a former pastor of St. Mary’s, and Fr. Robert Hadden, a graduate of St. Mary’s School. After Mass, Archbishop Schnurr stopped by the school to extend his congratulations. The students enjoyed pizza, cake, ice cream and cookies for lunch. Many parishioners who had joined us for Mass came over to the school to enjoy refreshments and tour the classrooms. Seventh and eighth grade students acted as tour guides.
On October 24, the first through fourth graders visited Heartland and the Village Green nursing homes to bring a little Halloween to the residents. The children dressed in their Halloween costumes and sang Halloween songs. They sang such classics as “Have You Seen the Pumpkin Man?” and that perennial favorite “The Ghost of John”. The residents reciprocated by handing out treats to the students. Classroom Halloween parties were held on October 31. The eighth graders transformed their classroom into a haunted asylum. Accomplishing this transformation was quite a feat since the school’s anniversary celebration was only two days before Halloween. They only had two days to build the haunted asylum. They did a remarkable job. My first and second graders were impressed!
Staff and students went to Mass on November 1, All Saints’ Day. The seventh and eighth graders attended Mass dressed as saints. After Mass the students enjoyed donuts and juice or milk. On holy days the students are provided with these treats to help them understand that holy days are celebrations. Later that morning the “saints” visited the other classes and shared their life stories with the children. One of the saints who visited my classroom was the newly canonized St. Kateri Tekawitha. Some of the lesser known saints, such as St. Bathilde and Blessed Marie-Anne Rivier were at the school.
The seventh and eighth graders traveled to Chicago on the weekend of November 10 and 11. They went to the Precious Blood Center for Reconciliation to learn about Fr. David Kelly’s mission. By the way, Fr. Kelly is also a former St. Mary’s student. The center’s mission is two-fold. The young offenders are guided in reconciling with their victims and making amends for their crime. The second aspect of the mission is to teach the young men life skills that will enable them to successfully be part of society. The center has been so successful that the Chicago courts are starting to send young offenders to the center in lieu of a juvenile detention facility. Students at St. Mary’s have long supported Fr. Kelly and his mission. Throughout the year students bring in basic necessities such as shampoo and toothpaste to send to the center.
We have three grades preparing to receive sacraments this year. The seventh and eighth graders will be confirmed in the spring. As I mentioned earlier on All Saints’ Day each student dressed as a saint and shared the saint’s life story. As part of their preparation to receive Confirmation the students research saints. They have hung informative posters about the saints around the school. The students have also chosen their Confirmation names and sponsors. The second graders are busy preparing for the reception of First Reconciliation. They will receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Wednesday, November 28.
Next week will be a short, but busy week. On Monday and Tuesday, the students will be busy preparing food for the school’s annual Thanksgiving luncheon. The delicious smells of pumpkin pies and turkey will soon fill the school. As I have explained in previous letters, each student is paired with a student from another grade as part of our buddy system. On Wednesday the buddies will sit together at the luncheon. Our graduates who are currently in high school are invited back since our Thanksgiving luncheon also serves as St. Mary’s Homecoming. This year the leftover food will be donated to the local soup kitchen.
Finally from the staff and students of St. Mary’s School I would like to extend our best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.
Kathy Ayette is a teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.