(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
Catholic Schools Light the Way is the theme of the week for this year. "We want everyone to know that Catholic school education is very important -- it builds a foundation of prayer," said Cassandra Limbaugh, a teacher's aide at St. Francis Xavier in Sikeston, who is on the CSW committee. Laura Halter, principal of St. Henry in Charleston, spoke of the importance of providing a Catholic education. "Basically, we celebrate the fact that we are educating children not only in the three Rs, but we're teaching them the skills of love and compassion that we teach through our religion classes," she said. "(During the week) we celebrate the fact that we have that privilege to do that."
During the week, gratitude is shown to people who support the schools. "All of the businesses in the community and all of the members of the community support Catholic education," said Michele Huffman, principal at Guardian Angel in Oran. "Without them, we couldn't keep this school open and keep it going."
That's why the week assigns days for the school to appreciate volunteers, family and the community, in addition to students and staff.
For instance, on community appreciation day, students at Guardian Angel will send thank-you cards and letter to area supporters, while those at St. Francis will bring in pet food for the Humane Society and perform some service around the school and church. "We will go to the nutrition center and sing, and also deliver cookies to area businesses that support the schools," said Halter of St. Henry's plans. Meals are provided for family appreciation day at the area. St. Francis will have a pancake and sausage breakfast for school and church families. "The parish is also a part of our school community, plus they support us," said Limbaugh. At Guardian Angel, there is a chili and sweet roll lunch for parents and grandparents, which Huffman said a lot of people anticipate each year.
Grandparents and parents are treated to lunch on two separate days at St. Henry. Students there will also go to church with their grandparents on Tuesday morning. And both afternoons, children will perform skits in their annual talent show for family members.
As a new twist this year, students at St. Francis will have different days that they can bring someone -- a parent, grandparent, sibling or friend -- to have a special lunch with them.
"A lot of times parents or grandparents can't come to enjoy being with their child during the day," said Limbaugh, adding it's something all ages can enjoy. "If there's any way that is possible one day a year, we're going to do that."
The week also provides opportunities for community service, in addition to some education on things going on outside school walls, said Halter. For instance, students at St. Henry will donate $1.11 each for The Power of 11 -- a program that supports troops' families at home.
"I think that what happens this week is that we try to emphasize to the children that service, what they're doing for others, is crucial," said Halter. Students at St. Francis will also have a program dedicated to the troops on Monday, which has been dubbed "Nations Day," there. A veteran will speak to students, and the color guard will make an afternoon visit.
"We're also having the children bring in travel-sized items that we can send to people in Iraq," said Limbaugh. Names have been pre-selected from family members and friends of school families and the parish, she said. "This lets (the students) know what's going on in our world and that we're concerned about others," she said.
For the most part, the week sums up what is most vital to Catholic schools.
"If you could peer into our school, this week shows the true dynamic with each one of those days," said Halter. "We try to appreciate each of the people that allows us to be what we are."