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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Catholic Schools Week: Celebration gives thanks for support

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Emma Piepenbrok, Lauren Eby and Alexa Turnbow color volunteer certificates at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School.
SIKESTON -- Sydney Newell doesn't hesitate to explain what faith means to her.

The kindergartner talked fast: "There were these very bad men that brought their airplanes into a building and hurt people. Some of them were firemans and policemans and St. Michael was there to protect the people. And he had a sword in his hand. A fireman had an angel on his shoulder, and the angels were there praying for them."

Sydney, who attends St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Sikeston, also showed her description of faith in the poster she made for Catholic Schools Week, a national celebration of Catholic education and the people who provide services to the students and schools. This year's theme is "Faith in Every Student."

"Because not everybody in our school is Catholic, faith can be displayed in lots of ways such as bedtime prayers or meal praying or even going to church together and each family is supposed say what faith means to them," pointed out Cassandra Limbaugh, first grade teacher's aide at St. Francis Xavier School in Sikeston.

Catholic Schools Week shows the Catholic identity within the school and within the community, said St. Francis Xavier Principal Mike Eftink. And it's not only about recognition, but about getting together as a community, he said.

"It's a time when we acknowledge all the teachers, students and everybody who volunteers and helps the schools," Eftink said. "Catholic schools cannot survive without the support of families and communities -- and that's what separates Catholic schools from other schools."

Limbaugh, who helps coordinate St. Francis' week, said it's also a time for fun.

"We celebrate our faith at school and do special things and we have a theme for each day," Limbaugh said.

Most schools during Catholic Schools Week acknowledge their communities, students, volunteers, teachers, the nation and their parish throughout this week. On Thursday upper grade students from the are invited to attend Mass at Notre Dame High School in Cape Giradeau.

At St. Francis students on Monday will deliver cookies to individuals and businesses in the community that help St. Francis School throughout the year. On Tuesday students will play bingo and attend a special Mass followed by a potluck dinner that night. On Wednesday, "Nations Day," they will wear red, white or blue and light a special candle in honor of school volunteers. Friday is Teacher Appreciation Day.

"They learn that their religion in training is more than what goes on here (at St. Francis)," said first grade teacher Debbie Pollock. "It's expanded throughout the nation."

To kick off the week students at Immaculate Conception School in New Madrid will attend Mass as a group today. On Monday parents and grandparents are invited to attend Mass with students and afterward have coffee and doughnuts.

Alumni of the school and parishioners are invited to lunch with students on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday students will visit the nursing home. Wednesday is Teacher Appreciation Day and Friday is Game Day.

Throughout the week IC students will participate in a Penny War to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, long distance phone cards for soldiers serving in Iraq and Habitat for Humanity.

Students at St. Denis Catholic School in Benton are collecting canned goods to donate to the Salvation Army. They also attended a special Mass to start the week. Monday will consists of students writing letters to local military personnel and seminaries as well as a Trivia Night in the gym. Tuesday is a day to give thanks to volunteers in the community. On Wednesday a religious trivia game will be sent home and each family is asked to turn off the TV, open the Bible and together complete the answers. Friday students will go bowling in Sikeston.

"Part of the purpose of Catholic Schools Week is to bring awareness about Catholic education, but it's also important to realize what a quality education the students are getting," said Deborah McCann, principal at St. Denis Catholic School in Benton.

Students at St. Henry Catholic School in Charleston began their week-long celebration with a Mass Saturday night followed by a family fun night. On Monday students will participate in different community service projects as part of community appreciation. Tuesday is Parent Appreciation Day and Wednesday is Grandparents Appreciation Day. Friday is Teacher Appreciation Day.

Although the younger kids typically think purely about the activities during Catholic Schools week, the older ones do understand its purpose, assured the St. Francis Xavier principal.

Derek McCann, an eighth grader at St. Francis Xavier, provided his take on faith: "It's not really about a religion, it's what God means to you."