Around the Province, some students and staff members discovered new places, faces and programs when they returned to the classroom this year.
In Camden, St. Anthony of Padua School welcomed its new principal, Dr. Mary Burke, an experienced educator who expects the very best from students and faculty, according to Jud Weiksnar, OFM.
“She has initiated a student council, something I have been advocating for since I arrived seven years ago,” Jud said. “She is very supportive of our seventh- and eighth-grade student leaders community organizing group, which gave a presentation on Sept. 19 at a local Catholic high school’s Senior Day of Reflection on their award-winning work transforming our neighborhood park.”
Students from St. Anthony of Padua have also taken part in an initiative organized by Stop Violence on People, a group advocating for peace and an end to the violence, crime and poverty that continues to create a culture of trauma in the Camden community. Third and fourth graders walked during the Camina Por La Paz (Peace Walk) on Oct. 3. Members of the school choir sang during the walk. Hugh Macsherry, OFM, Juan Turcios, OFM, and Jud also participated in the walk.
The children of St. Francis International School in Silver Spring, just outside the nation’s capital, are enjoying their new playground. Over the past year, the school has been trying to build a new playground “to enhance the learning experiences of its over 475 students,” according to principal Toby Harkleroad.
The school received several grants and donations for the playground, including one from KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization. The $15,000 award provided the framework for the community-build playground model, meaning volunteers could build the playground. Another donor, PBI Restoration Resources, sent experienced construction workers to help nearly 100 community volunteers and parents install the playground.
On Sept. 13, the students performed a song and dance for the community and the donors. Michael Johnson, OFM,shown above, pastor of St. Camillus Parish, one of the school’s three sponsoring churches, blessed the playground and then the ceremonial “first slide down the sliding board” took place, according to Harkleroad.
The SFIS fourth, fifth and sixth grade choir also sang during the opening of an apartment complex on the property of St. Camillus Church. The three-story building includes 48 one-bedroom apartments for seniors living at or below 50 percent of the area’s median income. Victory Housing, the housing development arm of the Archdiocese of Washington, built the complex. The children made cards and a welcoming banner for the seniors to mark the occasion.
“It’s wonderful because I think it’s who we are as Catholics,” said Michael in an interview with ABC 7 News – WJLA. “We as Franciscans seek to help people who are on the margins of society. We find many times that our seniors are one of the forgotten areas.”
In addition to implementing North Carolina core curriculum standards to their program, The Franciscan School in Raleigh added a music and movement program for kindergarten and first-grade students. The school also added a collaborative drama program between the Franciscan School and Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh.
“St. Francis is committed to helping make Catholic education affordable for all families in the parish,” according to information in a recent parish bulletin which announced dates of upcoming tours and open houses.
On Oct. 6, the parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Raleigh celebrated the confirmation of 158 young men and women. Mark Reamer, OFM, pastor, wrote a letter to parishioners congratulating the young people. “May the gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, courage, counsel, piety and fear of the Lord manifest themselves in your lives,” he said.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.