As I write this column, it is exactly nine days until Christmas…and yes, I am counting…with my class …everyday as part of the math lesson.
As you might imagine that activity has quite the calming effect on my class. (If you buy that, I have a really nice bridge over on North Broadway for sale.) Right now, if my class gets any higher, I am going to give them all dust rags and they can dust the ceiling fans and lights for me. In other words, I am enjoying a typical December.
My first-and second-graders are busy working on their paper chain. Every year I am allowed to upend the school on two days, Speak Like a Pirate Day and the last day before Christmas break when we assemble the chain and see how many times we can go down the hall, down the steps, through the cafeteria, up the front stairs. Over the years some other kind souls have gotten involved with the chain. Our big buddies, the principal and assorted librarians help us along.
You might wonder what my purpose is in having the children work on this chain. Well the children are required to use an AB repeating pattern in making the chain, and that is technically math. It is also a great exercise in cooperative learning. But really, it’s December and they’re first- and second-graders and they are suffering from a condition I call Christmas brain. Sometimes a teacher just has to go with the flow!
St. Nicholas visited our school on his feast day, December 6. After the children returned from Friday Mass, they left their shoes outside the door for the saint to fill with goodies. St. Nick and his helpers did not disappoint. Their shoes had been filled and quite generously. I had to limit how much they could consume at recess. I wanted to be sure to share the “joy” with their parents.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is usually celebrated on December 8. However, this year the 8th was a Sunday, and the Sunday liturgy took precedence. The holy day was celebrated on the next day. Usually we have donuts on holy days, but since Donuts with Dad was scheduled the following Wednesday, we did not have donuts. Well that’s only partially true. Some of us really like our donuts. My class had donuts. (I know. I am contributing to the sugar overload. What can I say? I like tradition…and donuts.)
Our Christmas program was nestled between the holy day and Donuts for Dad. School families gathered first at church on December 10 for a Christmas concert by the 4th through 8th grade bell choir under the direction of Tim Nealeigh. After the concert, the families came to school for story time, crafts, and refreshment. The evening was capped by a Christmas sing-a-long led by the preschool through 3rd grade students. The next day students enjoyed donuts with their dads and grandpas before school.
This Tuesday is Ugly Sweater Day at St. Mary’s. The student council is sponsoring a fund raiser to buy items for the parish Giving Tree. The students and staff are asked to bring a donation and wear their ugly Christmas sweaters. I have to be honest. I will bring a donation, but no ugly sweater. I can’t bring myself to purposely buy something in which I will look bad. I do that enough accidently. In case of a snow day, Ugly Sweater Day will be the following day. We had a two-hour delay today and the weather forecast is a little iffy.
The kindergarten through fourth-graders will go to Heartland and Rest Haven to sing for the residents. The children will sing songs ranging from Silent Night to the Grinch Song. Hopefully the weather will cooperate, and we will be able to spread some Christmas cheer at the retirement homes.
This is our last week of school before Christmas vacation. On Friday the whole school will attend Mass. Around ten o’clock the students and teachers will go Christmas caroling in downtown Greenville. Afterwards the students will have hot dogs and chips for lunch. After lunch the classes will have their Christmas parties. Christmas break begins at dismissal. School resumes on January 6.
On behalf of the students and staff of St. Mary’s School, I would like to wish everyone a blessed, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.