It seems Mother Nature was running a little late last month. Catholic Schools Week was the final week of January, and it is a running joke around school that the best part of the week are the snow days.
We are lucky if we have three of the five days without a delay or snow day, which is expected when you plan anything the last week of January. This year however was different. We enjoyed all five days of the week with our specially invited guests and activities.
The following week was another story. We began our first week in February with two snow days. Although a short month, minus two snow days, this February is shaping up to be an extremely eventful month.
On February 3, the staff and students received the traditional blessing of throats in memory of St. Blaise. Catholics every year on his feast day ask St. Blaise to ask God to preserve us from diseases of the throat and winter colds. For me, the blessing was a bit late. I was just recovering from a rather bad cold and had been the cantor at several Masses the previous week. I am afraid my singing was a little more “froggy” than I would have liked.
This month the students and staff collected items for a care package for the service men and women deployed in Iraq. The son of one of our teachers, Mrs. Pierri is stationed there. Among the items collected were hard candy, lip balm, and reading material. We wanted to show our appreciation for the sacrifices made by these brave men and women.
On February 11 the fifth through eighth grades attended the Northern Area Catholic Schools Mass in Sidney. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati covers a rather large area and we are in the part of the archdiocese north of Dayton. During Catholic Schools Week a special Mass was celebrated in Cincinnati at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral. Every year due to the distance and weather conditions, most of the schools in the Northern Area are unable to attend, so they gather for a special Mass later.
After this year’s Northern Area Mass the students stayed for a program given by the Damascus missionaries and hosted by Sidney Lehman High School. The preschool through fourth grades enjoyed Valentine’s Day on Friday, February 14. After lunch the children passed out Valentines to their classmates and had parties. Judging from the festive cacophony on the upper level of the building, I would say everyone had a great time.
Our principal, whose office is on our floor, said he thought the children were more excited about Valentine’s Day than they were for Halloween. (That’s pretty darned excited!)
I had to admire Mrs. Hadden our preschool teacher. She teaches both the Caterpillar and Butterfly classes, so that meant she had not one, but two Valentine’s Day parties. (One reason not to teach preschool!) She was a real trooper. On the following Wednesday, we had two special visitors to our school, Spirit the red-tailed hawk and Pip the screech owl. Oh yes, they brought along two helpers from the Darke County Park District, Mitchell Pence and Mandi Martin. The students and staff were fascinated by the two birds and we all learned many things about these beautiful creatures. Their visit was sponsored by Ben Randall and Randall Insurance. Randall’s son and daughter, Jersee and Jaxson, are students at St. Mary’s.
Grades five through eight traveled to Victoria Theater on February 20 to see Newton’s Apple. Earlier this year the younger students went to the theater to see Lyle the Crocodile. On Monday, February 24, representatives from COSI were at school presenting hands-on STEM activities. This presentation is part of the STEM education movement, which encourages students to explore careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. There were three hour-long programs. The first session, Junior Engineer was for the preschoolers and kindergarteners, the second, Gadgets to Go for the first through fourth grades, and the final session, Catapults and Trebuchets for grades five through eight.
Mardi Gras was Tuesday, February 25. As is our custom, we celebrated during the day with King Cake (a teacher’s nightmare — sweet bread, frosted with confectioner’s icing and sprinkled with lots of sugar!) At the end of the day we will buried Alleluia banners that were made by each class, to symbolize our putting aside joyful things to concentrate on the serious and somber season of Lent. The next day of course was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. The students and staff attended Mass in the morning and receive ashes as a sign of repentance. It is hard to believe that February is almost over. Can spring be far behind? We can only hope!
Kathy Ayette is a teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.