St. Therese celebrates all year long

By John Brainard, principal

The students and staff at St. Therese Catholic School are once again celebrating Catholic Schools Week recognizing their gifts of faith, knowledge and service. However, while planning the activities for the week one students asked, “Why only one week? We do this all year.” Listening to the discussion that followed among the students, I realized just how deeply our students appreciated the opportunities they have at St. Therese to learn, practice, and grow in their faith. Their conversations kept returning to three specific events that have occurred this year: mentoring of younger students, Vocations Awareness Week, and the annual Christmas party for children from Catholic Charities.

Several of the students remarked about mentoring. Through mentoring projects younger students have the opportunity to get to know “the big kids” better and the older students have a chance to serve as role models. The students’ favorite activity is preparing for All Saints Day. The younger students select a saint to learn more about and with their mentor they research the saint, prepare a presentation (complete with costume), and share what they learned in a school-wide assembly. Many parents visiting the school have commented on how refreshing it is to see the older kids sitting on the lawn teaching, helping, and yes - playing with the “little ones” during class. Many of the relationships built at school have carried on throughout the years.

Other students remembered Vocations Awareness Week. St. Therese students spent several hours with Father Michael Chrisman and Sister Faustina discussing what it is like to be a priest or nun, talking about discernment and responding to God’s call, and answering any questions the students had. Students invited the priests of the diocese to an appreciation breakfast. The highlight of the week, though, was the priest vs. student volleyball game. Students were excited to see their parish priests out on the court having a good time. After the first game one of the 8th graders said, “Hey these guys can play!” Many of the staff and adults present commented on the camaraderie among the priests, but the question of the day came from a 4th grader who asked, “Are the priests really allowed to wear shorts?” The week resulted in many students gaining a greater appreciation for our clergy and a growing understanding of vocations.
Another activity was the annual Christmas party that the students hosted for young children from La Familia Fuerte of Catholic Charities. Even though the students enjoyed the preparations, the children at the party made a greater impression upon the students. In listening to the students it was clear that they felt they had done something important for all of the children and families present.

After listening to the students’ discussion, I once again felt a deep appreciation for the students and staff of St. Therese Catholic School and the gift of a Catholic education. Reflecting on the year I had to agree: We celebrate our faith, knowledge and service every day. One of the students took it a step further as we began wrapping up the meeting when he commented, “What’s the big deal – this is what we do.”