Kids tour church, celebrate - Catholic Courier

Kids tour church, celebrate

AUBURN — Thirty preschoolers and kindergartners followed Adelaide Hutson down the center aisle of St. Alphonsus Church on Jan. 30, listening as she pointed out the church’s various features and attempted to relate them to things the children could understand.

"Your house that you live in is your personal family’s house," explained Hutson, catechetical leader and liturgy coordinator at St. Alphonsus. "This house, which you already told me is God’s house, is also the house of the people that are part of his family. And who’s part of his family?"

"Us!" chorused the children, who attend St. Joseph School in Auburn.

"Right. So this is our house, too, and we come to worship here and to connect with the other people who are part of our family to thank God and praise him," Hutson said.

The church tour was just one part of the festivities planned for St. Joseph students during Catholic Schools Week, which took place Jan. 26 through Feb. 1. Each day of the week focused on a different theme, such as community, students and nation. The theme on Jan. 30 was vocations, so students in the school’s youngest grades toured St. Alphonsus and learned more about what priests do. Meanwhile, students in the school’s third through fifth grades listened to guest speakers talk about their careers, and middle-school students stepped into the roles of the school’s teachers and staff for part of the day.

Catholic Schools Week provides an ideal way to remind the school family of the many benefits of a Catholic education and display those benefits for the larger community, noted Principal Susan Nedza. A trifold poster displayed outside each classroom at St. Joseph during Catholic Schools Week highlighted that particular grade’s academic achievements, Catholic identity and community service.

"Those are the areas that we’re trying to focus on. We make sure every lesson includes those three things," Nedza said.

Any school can offer a basic math class, but only a Catholic school can offer the unique combination of high-quality academics, community service, and Catholic identity and values, she added.

Seventh-grader Emily Botindari told the Catholic Courier she enjoys going to a Catholic school, not only during Catholic Schools Week but throughout the whole year as well.

"We get to talk about God and get to do fun stuff," Emily explained.

"I like the uniforms," added fellow seventh-grader Megan Swartwood.

"Me too, because you don’t have to pick out what you wear every day," Emily agreed.

Another seventh-grader, Samantha Lesch, said she was grateful to attend St. Joseph because she believes she’s receiving a better education than some of her peers at other schools. Samantha said some of her older sister’s high-school classmates never learned how to write in cursive, a skill St. Joseph students perfect at an early age.

Samantha perfected another skill on vocations day: mopping. That day Samantha and fellow seventh-grader Alexandra Flurschutz chose to step into the shoes of Fred Whatman, the school’s janitor. After donning Whatman’s signature ensemble of jeans and a gray T-shirt, Samantha and Alexandra each got a few quick lessons and a long to-do list from their mentor for the day.

"We thought it would be cool to see how much work he actually does. You never see him because he’s all over the place," Alexandra explained.

Most of the students only got to trade roles with teachers or staff members for one class period, but Alexandra and Samantha got to fill in for Whatman for more than one period because they had such long lists of things to do, Samantha noted.

"He had to show us how to mop. It was a lot heavier than we expected," Samantha noted.

Emily and Megan spent part of the day filling in for Diane Pike, the school’s administrative assistant, and said they especially enjoyed answering the phone and buzzing people in through the school’s front door, including guests who came to the school for the preschool and fifth grade’s Special Persons Day.

Each day during Catholic Schools Week was designated as Special Persons Day for at least one grade. On Special Persons Day, students could invite a guest to spend some time with them in school. Fifth-grader Liliana Arias invited her babysitter, Jean Fedorchuk, to her classroom, and classmate Ailish Cuthbert invited her aunt, Cheryl Foster. Fedorchuk, Foster and the other special guests watched as the fifth-graders performed two plays, then had refreshments in the classroom before going downstairs to check out the Scholastic Book Fair.

Both Fedorchuk and Foster said they were honored to be invited to the school.

"I think it’s fun to be able to take someone you love to school," Liliana said.


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