by Cori Hilsgen
How would you like to take a Caribbean cruise during your school day? Students and staff at All Saints Academy celebrated National Catholic Schools Week Jan. 25-30 by taking a cruise during their school day, as well as participating in many other fun activities such as pajama day, reading a favorite book, attending Mass, a family dance and more.
Fourth-grade teacher Theresa Fleege coordinated the week’s activities. She said her goal was to incorporate faith, family and fun into each day.
The week began with a 10 a.m. Sunday Mass in the Catholic church followed by a book fair open-house in the music room.
Students could wear their pajamas on Monday, had a prayer service in the basement and participated in the “Drop Everything and Read” event, during which they could read books of their choice.
Older students spent the day assisting younger students. Sixth-grade students worked with first-grade students, fifth-grade students worked with kindergarten students, fourth-grade students worked with preschool students and second-grade and third-grade students read on their own.
Fourth-grade students Jackson Phillipp and Taylar Schaefer enjoyed reading to the preschoolers.
“I liked when there was a picture and they knew what it was and they would tell you if they have seen it or tell you a story about it,” Phillipp said.
“I like the bunny story,” Sam Keul, 5, said. “I liked talking with him.”
Schaefer said it was fun to hear preschool student, Faith Anderson, ask questions and tell when she liked the pages in the book.
“I liked when Faith told me stories,” Schaefer said. “For example, when she saw a picture of a pie, she would tell me she liked what was in the pie.”
“The preschoolers thoroughly enjoyed meeting and interacting with fourth-graders,” preschool teacher Cheri Burg said. “This experience was not only entertaining, but it has built relationships across the ages.”
Tuesday was Game Day and students wore sports jerseys, hats, cheerleading outfits and anything they would normally wear to a game. Students prayed the rosary together and later participated in board games. Older students again teamed up with younger students as they had on Monday, to participate in games.
Fleege said playing the games provided another opportunity for community-building between students.
“There was even a preschooler who cried when her fourth-grade buddies left,” Fleege said. “How quickly relationships can be formed when students are given the chance to be a role model.”
On Wednesday, the students traveled to St. John’s University for a presentation by the CLIMB Theater titled Respect. CLIMB Theater presented two age-appropriate performances, one for kindergarten through second-grade and one for third- through sixth-grade students.
Principal Karl Terhaar said the play sought to inspire students to help build a respectful community.
Students also toured the St. John’s Abbey Church, basement and crypt of St. Peregrine. After eating lunch at SJU, students attended mass in the Abbey Church.
More than 2,200 students from area Catholic schools attended the Mass at the Abbey Church with Bishop Donald Kettler, Abbot John Klassen and area priests.
On Thursday, students enjoyed a Caribbean Cruise Day and wore sunglasses, shorts and T-shirts. Their boarding passes to sail on the cruise ship were non-perishable food items or $1, which will be donated to the local food shelf. Lunch was served on the main deck area (main floor) and a movie was shown in the lower deck (lower level) area.
Several students offered comments about what they liked about attending ASA.
Sixth-grade student Kallie Larson said everybody is really nice and forgiving.
“There aren’t very many kids in each class,” Larson said. “The teachers are really nice.”
“I like that we get to talk about God,” third-grade student Colton Hern said. “Everyone is really nice and the teachers teach you everything you need to know so you are ready to move on.”
“I like that we can talk about God in our class and we don’t have to go to religion classes at night,” sixth-grade student Chris Morris said. “I also like having Mass on Thursday. I like that I was accepted when I came to this school in fourth grade. I like that our principal asks us a question every week and if you get it right you get a prize.”
The week ended on Friday with Wacky Day. Students dressed in wacky ways as they attended a prayer service and slide show. An evening family dance with a DJ, held in the upper level gym, and book fair ended the week.