Finger Lakes Catholic schools mark special week - Catholic Courier

Finger Lakes Catholic schools mark special week

A Hawaiian-themed luau luncheon, a European feast, in-school beach and pajama parties, and a faculty vs. students volleyball game.

These represent just a few of the ways Catholic schools in the Finger Lakes region celebrated Catholic Schools Week, which was Jan. 27 through Feb. 2.

“Catholic Schools Light the Way” was the theme of this year’s Catholic Schools Week, and schools in the area took advantage of the opportunity to highlight their schools and their unique roles in their communities, several principals said.

Like most schools, St. Joseph School in Auburn welcomed parents, parishioners and members of the community into the school for an open house that week, said Kathleen Coye, principal. St. Joseph students spoke at the Auburn parishes Jan. 26-27 and invited parishioners to visit their schools and see them in action.

“We’re always excited to have a lot of visitors and special people. It gives you a chance to highlight your program for the community, and it gives us a chance to invite the community in. It highlights who we are and how we let our light shine in the community,” Coye said.

Several parents of prospective students toured the school and peeked inside the classrooms to watch the students in action, she added.

“They were very impressed by what they saw the students doing,” she said.

Students at Joseph and at St. Michael School in Newark also invited their parents, grandparents and family friends to their schools to visit and eat lunch with them. The relatives and friends seemed to enjoy being in the school and seeing the students’ classrooms, Coye said.

St. Michael School in Penn Yan and Ss. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic School in Auburn also welcomed parents and community members into classrooms during Catholic Schools Week, both for the traditional open-house events and also for each school’s Career Day. This event was one of the highlights of the week at the Penn Yan school, said James Tette, principal.

That day, one man who worked with a local construction company brought his backhoe to the school and put it through its paces during a demonstration in the school parking lot, Tette said. The parking lot was full of exciting things that day, he said, as an employee of a local ambulance company also brought the company’s new ambulance to the school and explained its features to the students.

One Ss. Peter and Paul parent is an environmental-conservation officer, and he visited the school Jan. 28 — accompanied by a deer decoy and various fur pelts — to talk about his career, said Sister Kathleen Hutsko, SSMI, principal. The next day students donned Hawaiian shirts, sandals, sunglasses and beach hats for a Luau Luncheon at the Ukrainian National Center in honor of Student Appreciation Day, she said.

“You can’t have a school unless you have students, so we had Student Appreciation Day,” Sister Hutsko said. “We did have a woman who came in during our luau to teach the students how to do Hawaiian dances.”

The staff at St. Michael School in Newark showed their appreciation for their students Jan. 30, when they presented the students with goody bags and held a schoolwide bingo game. Students at Ss. Peter and Paul School, meanwhile, spent Jan. 30 listening to Auburn Mayor Mike Quill and Auburn City School District Superintendent J.D. Pabis, who visited the school that day, Sister Hutsko said.

The men explained their respective jobs to the children. Pabis borrowed several possessions from children to illustrate the fact that even though material things may be taken away, education and faith can never be taken away, Sister Hutsko said.

Meanwhile, middle-school students at St. Joseph School performed a jump-rope demonstration for the rest of the school, Coye noted.

“We had a nice variety of jump-rope gymnastics. They are really into jump-roping, and our gym teacher has been doing some gym units on how it’s good for the heart and it’s something students can do alone or with a buddy,” Coye said.

The next day, students at St. Mary School in Canandaigua took part in the school’s annual cultural luncheon. During this year’s “Yummy European Feast” the children sampled food from France, Italy and Ireland. A committee chooses different countries to represent in the luncheon’s menu choices each year, said Ann Marie Deutsch, principal.

“They choose the countries that we haven’t done recently. We also try to be aware of having foods the children will eat,” Deutsch said. “The children enjoy it, and then afterward the seventh and eighth grades challenge each other in a volleyball game.”

That same day, the Newark school’s eighth-graders also challenged another group — the school’s faculty — to a volleyball game to celebrate Spirit Day.

Although Catholic Schools Week was full of lighthearted events at local schools, serious moments were sprinkled throughout the week as well, said Father James Fennessy, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Seneca Falls and St. Mary Parish in Waterloo. He presided over a special Catholic Schools Week Mass for St. Francis-St. Stephen School in Geneva. During his homily, he said he mentioned Bishop Matthew H. Clark’s Jan. 18 announcement that 13 diocesan schools in Monroe County would close at the end of the 2007-08 school year.

“I had asked (principal) Elaine Morrow, are the kids aware of the closing of the Catholic schools in Rochester? She said they are, and they pray for them daily,” Father Fennessy said.

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