Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Catholic Schools Week celebrations mix prayer, fun, service to others
by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff
(From the Feb. 5, 2009 edition of the Inland Register)
Catholic Schools Week begins annually on the last Sunday in January, so this year the dates were Jan. 25-31. Catholic schools throughout the diocese planned a week filled with a variety of activities. From the smallest to the largest Catholic schools in the diocese, students, faculty and staff had no shortage of enthusiasm for celebrating the spirit and identity of their schools.
The theme for Catholic Schools Week 2009, set by the National Catholic Educational Association, was “Catholic Schools Celebrate Service.” Here are some of the activities, as of press time:
At St. Mary School, in Spokane Valley, students, teachers, and staff were part of the entrance procession at all weekend Masses. At an appropriate time during the Masses, students read essays they wrote about why they love attending St. Mary School. Students served as lectors and altar servers, and following the 9 and 11:15 a.m. Masses, students served coffee and donuts to parishioners. Students also wore their school uniforms to all Masses that weekend.
On Monday, the Knights of Columbus served a pancake breakfast for the school’s 265 students. Teachers wrote notes of appreciation to each of their students. Tuesday was Appreciation Day for families and volunteers. The Fourth Grade students served coffee and cookies for those attending the parish’s 7:30 a.m. Mass. Each student wrote a thank you note to parents who volunteer at the school.
Wednesday was Community Day. A community lunch was served in the gymnasium for students and the school community. Thursday was Pastors’ Day, during which the priests of St. Mary Parish received special recognition.
Friday was dedicated to faculty and staff. A lunch was served for teachers and staff, and each member of the group gave a note of encouragement and appreciation to his or her faculty or staff prayer partner.
Holy Family School in Clarkston began Catholic Schools Week on Sunday with students serving as lectors and greeters and singing in the choir at the 10:30 a.m. Mass. Following the Mass, the Knights of Columbus sponsored a sausage dinner, and the parent booster club presented a book fair in the school gymnasium.
Monday morning, the students began the day by gathering for a special blessing and prayer service. This was followed by a spirit assembly during which students and teachers did cheers and sang songs to celebrate their school. Throughout Catholic Schools Week the student council celebrated with “crazy days” and service project competitions between the various grade level classes.
Tuesday was Contest Day. All the students in kindergarten through sixth grade combined into multi-age groups for the day. Each group of students visited a different teacher’s classroom to work on a designated contest project such as drawing a picture of their favorite doctor, a Respect Life picture, or a picture of a dogwood flower (related to the local spring Dogwood Festival). Also, games were held in the gymnasium. Parents provided snacks for this day.
Wednesday evening was Family Fun Night at Clarkston’s Aquatic Center. Holy Family’s families joined families from St. Stanislaus School in nearby Lewiston, Idaho, in the Boise Diocese, for an evening of swimming. Friday there was a Catholic Schools Week Mass, and the week concluded in the afternoon with an all-school dance.
Throughout the week, students focused on service projects by conducting a food drive. Admission to the Wednesday evening gathering at the Aquatic Center was by donation of nonperishable food items. The students also gathered supplies for the Catholic Charities/Catholic Schools “100 Ways/100 Days” project, and they participated in a variety of clean-up projects around the school and parish.
At Spokane’s All Saints School, students attended parish Sunday Masses, and following each Mass they served coffee and donuts and distributed bookmarks. There was also a special all-school Catholic Schools Week Mass on Tuesday. At All Saints, an all-school Mass is a rather big production, since the school is located on two campuses, one at Our Lady of Fatima Parish, the other at St. Peter Parish. So one group of students was transported by bus to the other group’s parish church and back again.
The students wrote thank-you notes to their parents for their Catholic school education. The student council sponsored a food drive, and there was a door decoration contest going on throughout the week, with winners selected in a variety of categories.
Various fun activities happened each day during lunch time at All Saints throughout Catholic Schools Week. These included a peanut relay race, a basketball free throw contest, crazy tie day, and cone races. There was also an awards assembly for the older students.
At Spokane’s Assumption School, Catholic Schools Week began with a Spaghetti Dinner on Saturday from 4:15 to 8 p.m. During the 5:30 p.m. Mass, as well as all the Sunday Masses, principal Sonia Flores-Davis and an alumnus of the school gave a presentation on Catholic schools.
Tuesday was Student Appreciation Day. This was a free dress day, chocolate milk was served with lunches, and no homework was assigned. Tuesday evening, 6:30-8 p.m., was Home and School Family Night. Students, parents, and guests were welcomed. Guest speaker was Spokane Catholic author and speaker (and former Inland Register columnist) Mary Cronk Farrell. Her topic was “Simple Living: A Choice for Justice and Compassion.”
Wednesday at Assumption, at the 8 a.m. parish Mass, pastor Father Michael Savelesky gave a special blessing to all those who support Catholic schools as well as all parish members. Volunteers and parents were invited to a reception in their honor at 8:45 a.m., following Mass. Included in the morning’s activities were student presentations, music by Kids Korus, and a slide show presentation.
Thursday was Teacher Appreciation Day. Teachers were served a special lunch. Parents and students wrote notes of appreciation to the teachers.
On Friday, prominent members of the Spokane community visited with Assumption students and read aloud to them. Special guests included Bishop William Skylstad, players from the Spokane Chiefs Hockey Team, Spokane Fire Chief Bobby Williams, and alumni of the school. Friday evening from 7-9 p.m. was Movie Night for grades 4-8, to promote community and fellowship.
At Trinity School, in Spokane, Monday was Teams Lunch Day. The students are organized into cross-grade teams, and the teams are working together on service projects throughout the year. Tuesday was Wear Your Favorite Color Day. Wednesday was Parent/Volunteer Appreciation Day. The students wrote thank you notes and presented them to parents and volunteers on Friday at the weekly school Mass.
Thursday morning was Board Game Day, again organized according to cross-grade teams. Grades 6-8 traveled to the Convent of the Holy Names Sisters to share lunch and present the ’08 school Christmas play, a musical titled Miracle on Bethlehem Street. Friday, the all-school Mass was followed by the school’s traditional physical education challenge to compete for the coveted rubber chicken.
Catholic Schools Week was officially over on Saturday, Jan. 31. All the same, Trinity extended its celebration to the parish Masses on Sunday, Feb. 1, at St. Joseph Parish and Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 7 and 8, at St. Anthony Parish.
At Spokane’s St. Aloysius School the students began learning last fall about the seven themes of Catholic social teaching, and they coupled this with students and families engaging in social justice projects. This continued during Catholic Schools Week, plus the school made up for one of its snow days last December by adding a community service day on Friday, Feb. 13. “These efforts,” said principal Kerrie Rowland, “help us fulfill our Catholic school mission of graduating leaders in action, modeled on Christ.”
St. John Vianney School, in Spokane Valley, celebrated Catholic Schools Week with unique activities on each day of the week. Monday was Pajama Day/Sweat Day. Students and teachers wore pajamas or sweats to school to honor those who followed their dreams. For example, Joseph stood by the Virgin Mary because of his dream, and Jacob, in the Book of Genesis, left his family and followed God because of several dreams he had.
Tuesday at St. John Vianney was Wacky Hair Day to celebrate that we do not draw our strength from our hair or appearance, as Samson did, but from our faith. Thursday was Backwards Day. This day honored St. Peter, who was crucified upside down, as well as all men and women throughout history who dared to be different because of their belief in God. “Backwards Day,” said a school announcement, “is in reference to your clothing, not your behavior!!!”
Friday was Sports Day. This day honored those who were persecuted and martyred by the Roman Empire at the Colosseum because of their dedication to Christianity.
As part of its Catholic Schools Week celebration, Spokane’s St. Patrick School hosted Grandparents’ Day on Friday, Jan. 30. Grandparents had the opportunity to visit with their grandchildren in the classroom and to eat lunch with them in the school cafeteria. This is an annual tradition and celebration at St. Patrick. (IR photo courtesy of St. Patrick School, Spokane)
At Spokane’s St. Patrick School, Catholic Schools Week began a little early, the evening of Saturday, Jan. 24, with the Sam Via Memorial Italian Dinner, sponsored by the school’s alumni association. At all Saturday evening and Sunday parish Masses, students read their essays about attending a Catholic school. There were also boys’ and girls’ basketball games at Gonzaga Prep.
On Monday, School Spirit Day, the students prayed the rosary with the Missionaries of Charity Sisters. Tuesday was Mismatch Clothes Day.
Wednesday was Sports Apparel Day, and Thursday was Student Appreciation Day, with no homework assignments. Friday there was an all-school Mass, and all day there was adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Patrick Church, with classrooms taking turns participating. This was also Grandparents and Special People Day. Grandparents were invited to share lunch with their grandchildren in the school cafeteria, and students who do not have grandparents, or whose grandparents could not attend, were welcome to invite other “special people” in their lives.
Students at St. Charles School in Spokane celebrated Catholic Schools Week with everything from a pancake breakfast for parents, students, and parishioners to a fun-filled Spirit Day. “The culmination of the celebration,” said principal Skip Bonucelli, “will be marked by Mass on Feb. 13 at St. Patrick Church in north Spokane.”
Student activities at St. Charles were developed by a team headed by fifth grade teacher Teresa Severino. The team’s goal was to focus on service while highlighting the mission and vision of the school. “We hope that the week offered parents and students opportunities to reflect on their personal mission of service to the community, school, and self,” said Severino.
The week’s events featured a community breakfast and muffin drive-thru, during which parents received a morning muffin and a warm welcome from staff and students. Student Appreciation Day added fun to the week with free dress, roller skating, and no homework. During the Day of Reflection students attended three prayer services, taking time to think about their service to God. Finally, Spirit Day wrapped up the week with crazy hats, socks, and ties, plus a student award pep rally.
In Colton-Uniontown, Guardian Angel/St. Boniface School had a busy Catholic Schools Week, according to principal Lori Becker. Each day lunch was provided by a community group, and each day had a theme clothing idea, and an activity followed lunch. Each morning, a secret “angel” placed “goodies” on the students’ desks before they arrived.
Monday was PJ Day with “buddy” board games after lunch. Lunch was provided by the Home and School Association. Tuesday was Boy/Girl Opposite Day with a “bump” game after lunch. The St. Gall Knights of Columbus prepared and served lunch. Wednesday was “Character Day” with “Prison Ball” after lunch. The St. Boniface Altar Society and Knights of Columbus provided lunch.
Thursday was Job Day and a treasure hunt, followed lunch. Lunch was served by the Catholic Daughters group. On Friday, the school had a Spirit Day with “buddy” relay races following lunch. The parish council from St. Gall Parish provided that day’s lunch.