Happy Catholic Schools Week!
Catholic schools across the United States are celebrating the joy of Catholic Education. The National Catholic Education Association has selected “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service” as the 2014 Theme of Catholic Schools Week. Our Saint Benedict Academy is such a community of students, teachers, and families who join together to trust in God, come to know Him, and strive to serve Him. This week, we will experience that theme by using the ocean as our inspiration. Please check out our blog this week for an account of Catholic Schools Week, 2014. Note: The most current entry will be at the top of the blog.
Friday, January 31
The theme of today was “SBA Spirit Day,” and students wore a variety of SBA shirts – from basketball jerseys and gym shirts to SBA gear from older siblings’ days at school. Students and teachers gathered in the gymnasium this morning for prayer and a Catholic Schools Week pep rally – a fun event made all the more memorable when Mr. O’Brien revealed he had sprayed his hair blue in celebration of SBA school spirit. At lunch, the whole student body ate together and enjoyed delicious ice cream sundaes and an extra recess. As we ended the day, as we do each day, with prayer, students offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God for their clergy, parents, teachers, friends, and school community that make the gift of Catholic education and the special family that is Saint Benedict Academy a reality.
Thursday, January 30
The visit began in second grade where the students shared with him some facts about Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and Saint Andrew. The students selected Saint Elizabeth because of her affiliation with Catholic education in America and chose Saint Andrew because, as the patron Saint of fishermen, fit in well with our school’s ocean-themed Catholic Schools Week. The Bishop shared with the students some additional insight about the saints and was pleased to receive two books that the children created about their classroom saints.
Bishop Libasci was greeted with more smiling faces on the first floor. The students of Mrs. Silveira’s class read the Bishop their favorite Bible passage – the account of Jesus calming the seas. They even wrote out the passage for the Bishop and illustrated it. The students learned that the Bishop’s favorite passage is the account of the Transfiguration. In Kindergarten, the students sung him their lobster song in celebration of their “class creature” for Catholic Schools Week and were eager to show the Bishop all of the lobsters in their classroom and tell him how Mrs. Connors incorporated lobsters into their math, science, art, and more throughout the week. The Bishop also got a chance to see the location of our new pre-school program which will open this fall.
Upstairs, the Bishop was impressed with the community service outreach that our third grade students perform in their pen-pal relationships with residents at Birch Hill Terrace. The Bishop sat in one student’s desk while the children told him about why they like the pen-pal program and how it works. They learned that when the Bishop was their age, he had a pen-pal in Japan!
Next door in grade four, the children engaged the Bishop with a discussion about the Ten Commandments. The children sought the Bishop’s advice about how to live up to these commandments and were encouraged to reflect on Christ’s words: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The students of the fifth and sixth grade joined together in providing the Bishop with a “Top Ten” list of why Catholic education at Saint Benedict Academy is important to them. The students listed reasons such as the power of prayer, teachers who care, small class sizes, and the support of their parents. The Bishop remarked on each one and noted that each could be the title of a chapter of a book about why Catholic education is so vital.
The school community then joined Bishop Libasci for a beautiful noon Mass at Saint Raphael Church. The students were happy to see Saint Raphael pastor, Father Jerome Day, O.S.B., concelebrate the Mass. Many parents, siblings, parishioners, alumni, and new students were also in attendance. In keeping with the ocean-themed celebration of Catholic Schools Week, the students sung “Lord, You Have Come to the Seashore” during the Mass.
The Bishop offered an inspiring homily about the importance of Catholic education and the accomplishments of Saint Benedict Academy as it celebrates its 125th Jubilee. The Bishop reminded us that Christ called for his apostles to leave their boats and to become fishers of men. He spoke of the ministry of Catholic education in not only helping students to come to know and love God, but to prepare them to serve God by helping others to know and love God.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Mr. McLaughlin and one of the Kindergarten students presented Bishop Libasci with a gift-bag of SBA memorabilia to remember his time on campus. Included in the bag were a water bottle, a t-shirt, and our celebratory cookbook. Bishop Libasci had a special gift for the students too. He requested that the teachers and staff give the children an extra recess and an ice cream sundae on Friday!
Wednesday, January 29
On Wednesday we welcomed a number of visitors to campus. At nine, WMUR meteorologist Kevin Skarupa visited the students in Mrs. Silveria’s first grade class and Mrs. Freethey’s second grade class. Mr. Skarupa talked to the students about the science of forecasting the weather and answered their many questions about what it is like to be on television. The school presented Mr. Skarupa with a gift bag of SBA gear – all of which was prominently displayed on his desk on the Thursday morning news!
At 10 AM, our pen-pal friends from Birch Hill Terrace joined us for a morning visit. The pen-pals were treated to a performance of the Readers’ Theatre play “Tacky the Penguin” and got to visit with their current third-grade pen-pals and check in with their former pen-pals who are now in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. The scene in the cafeteria resembled a family reunion, and many of the third grade parents were on-hand to celebrate this fantastic partnership between our school and Birch Hill Terrace. The pen-pals were treated to tours around the school and had the opportunity to see the third grade classroom before returning to Birch Hill Terrace. To learn more about the pen-pal program, please click here.
After lunch, the school held its annual spelling bee. The 12 finalists from grades four, five, and six have been preparing for the past couple of weeks with the spelling bee moderator, Mrs. LaPalme. Maggie in grade four was our runner-up this year. This year’s champion was defending SBA spelling bee champion Ridge in grade six. Congratulations to all of our spelling bee participants.
Tuesday, January 28
This morning was pajama day. Students and faculty gathered in the gym for morning prayer led by our music teacher, Mr. O’Brien. Today, the students prayed in a special way for their teachers. After each teacher received a special certificate of recognition from the Office of the Superintendent, Rev. John Fortin, O.S.B., the students extended their hands in prayer over the teachers. The theme of teacher appreciation continued throughout the day. Mr. McLaughlin transformed the kitchen into a satellite office for the morning where he – and sous chefs Mrs. Gravel and Mrs. Perdue – cooked up a Cajun lunch for the faculty including shrimp and corn bisque, French bread, and chocolate cobbler with ice cream.
P.S. The recipes can be found in our SBA commemorative cookbook available for sale in the office for $15 each or 3 for $40.
Monday, January 27
The students, faculty, and school community began Catholic Schools Week this morning with a prayer service. The Student Council and students in Mrs. LaPalme’s sixth grade class led the prayer service which was themed on the ocean.
The prayer service began with the song “Lord, You Have Come to the Seashore” and the unveiling of our beautiful ocean backdrop. The 120 students placed individual cut-outs of their class creatures on the backdrop – creating a colorful seascape of turtles, fish, sharks, octopus, crabs, starfish, and lobsters swimming through the sea.
The sixth grade presented a dramatic rendering of the casting of the nets based on Luke 5:1-11 and Matthew 4:17-22. When Christ told the soon-to-be apostles “Have faith. Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” an enormous net descended over the backdrop and “caught” all of the fish that students placed in the ocean scene. In the reflection after the presentation, we heard these words from our sixth grade: “The Gospels of Luke and Matthew reveal Jesus calling the first apostles to give up their life as fishermen and instead become fishers of men. At first, Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John couldn’t catch any fish; however, with the help of Christ, their nets burst. The fish that they caught are all of us – children of God who have become caught up in God’s net to sail with Him in His boat toward the harbor of Heaven.”
After the prayer service, the students participated in a pep rally where each class revealed their class color – many students wore t-shirts in their class color – and class creature to the rest of the school through song. As students returned to their classrooms, they observed the many different bulletin boards that classes created, each one themed on our oceanic interpretation of the Catholic Schools Week theme.
Students arrived at their desks to find a treat of Swedish fish and a note inviting them to “dive in” to Catholic Schools Week. Later in the day, the first grade and fifth grades were treated to whimsical cupcakes with frosting and candy in the shape of their class creatures. The third grade presented a dress rehearsal of their reader’s theatre play “Tacky the Penguin” to the first and second grade in anticipation of our friends from Birch Hill Terrace coming to visit on Wednesday. The fourth grade created lollypop octopus treats for all of the students and delivered them in the afternoon to wish everyone a wonderful week.
On Monday evening, the line was out the door at Shorty’s Restaurant in Manchester for our Shorty’s Night Fundraiser. It was wonderful to see so many families enjoying the food and each other’s company.
Sunday, January 26
Saint Benedict Academy kicked off Catholic Schools Week by welcoming prospective students and families to an Open House at the school from noon to 2. Mr. McLaughlin and the faculty enjoyed meeting the students and speaking with many parents, several of whom are alumni of Saint Benedict Academy. Current Saint Benedict Academy families volunteered their afternoon to welcome our visitors and provide tours of the school.
Many Saint Benedict Academy families celebrated Mass together at Ste. Marie’s in Manchester on Sunday morning. Students looked sharp in their school uniforms and hosted a coffee and pastry reception in the Ste. Marie Parish Hall. Several students also delivered presentations before Mass about the value of Catholic education. Last week, students and families spoke at seven different parishes throughout the Diocese about their experience at Saint Benedict Academy.