Butterfly launch helps school take flight - Catholic Courier

Butterfly launch helps school take flight

ROCHESTER — Got butterflies about going to a new school?

Nazareth Elementary students set theirs free on Friday, Sept. 10.

As elementary students gathered round in a circle during an opening prayer service, several Nazareth Elementary School students helped to set flight to monarch butterflies to symbolize the metamorphosis and relaunch of their elementary school.

The prayer service started with students linking hands in a large circle on the front lawn. As the butterflies were launched, students gradually raised their hands in a prayerful gesture.

"Help us, like butterflies, to bring peace, hope and beauty to this world," said Sister of St. Joseph Margaret Mancuso, coprincipal of the school.

Nazareth Elementary School opened Sept. 8 in a different building, with a slightly different name and with a new partner in education: Aquinas Institute. The prekindergarten through sixth-grade elementary school, which was formerly known as Nazareth Hall and was formerly located on Raines Park, opened in the former Nazareth Academy building on Lake Avenue.

"Enrollment is good and is around 200, which is what it has been for the past two years," said Dawn Gruba, director of marketing and communications for the Sisters of St. Joseph. Nazareth Elementary is a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and this year the congregation has worked in partnership with Aquinas Institute to create a prekindergarten through 12-grade private Catholic school system that is affiliated with, but independent of, the Diocese of Rochester.

School officials noted that Nazareth Elementary has room to grow in its new location.

"There’s a lot of excitement and energy," Sister Mancuso said. "Nazareth is still here. You can feel the warmth, hospitality and the charism of Nazareth."

School officials pointed out that the new location offers a high-tech media library connected with the county’s library system, all classrooms equipped with digital whiteboards and laptops, and programs in journalism, dance and creative movement.

Some facilities at the new location also were redone to allow them to be more easily used by elementary students, including retrofitting some of the bathrooms with smaller fixtures, adding a new playground and changing the school’s entrance to allow for safer student dropoff and pickup. A fence also was installed along Lake Avenue for enhanced student safety.

A butterfly garden that is part of Seneca Park Zoo’s Butterfly Beltway program was planted, and Tina Crandall-Gommel, a Nazareth Elementary School parent who is an educational consultant with the zoo, taught students about monarch butterflies moments before coordinating the Sept. 10 butterfly launch.

Crandall-Gommel said she choose Nazareth for her children because she is a Nazareth Academy graduate and because of the strength of the school’s science and prekindergarten programs. In addition to being the parent of fourth-grader Justin and a first-grader Michaela, she said she has done student teaching at the school, and school officials eventually made the connection between her and the Butterfly Beltway program.

In addition to teaching students about the migration of monarchs, she helped students make the connection between a butterfly’s new start and their own.

"It shows a very nice symbol that we’re launching our butterflies and showing a new chance in a new place and that we are learning new things," said Ava White, 10, a fifth-grader who has been with Nazareth since she was 4 years old.

"It’s such an opportunity for us to have this very big school," said 9-year-old Anthony Iglesia, a fifth-grader who has been with Nazareth since he was 3 years old.

Coprincipal Diana Duell noted that as students gathered on the front lawn in a "circle of love," it contrasted with police sirens in the background, and she said she hoped that the school could bring its message of love to the Rochester community.

"The launching of the partnership is one element, but also it is the launching of a new opportunity for the Rochester community to join hands and hearts with us," she said.

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