The Schools of Saint Mary will host an Early Childhood Education Open House on Tuesday, October 24 at 10:00 AM. All prospective families are encouraged to attend this remarkable event highlighting the Early Childhood Education experience at St. Mary’s Elementary School. Meet the administration, faculty and current parents for firsthand information on our remarkable school and parish community. If you cannot attend this event, please call 627-0184 to schedule an appointment for a personal tour at your earliest convenience.
At Saint Mary’s Elementary School, where the Catholic faith and Gospel values are at the forefront of the school day, it’s only natural that the latest extracurricular club is called Faith and Service. The program, which was introduced in mid-October and is currently open to students in the middle school grades, is an offshoot of the popular Faith and Sports clinics started last year by St. Mary’s social studies teacher Michael Griffin. “The Faith and Sports events have been great,” he noted. “The kids have had a lot of fun and also grown in their prayer life. But I often found myself challenging the kids to take the next step and put their faith into action. I tell them that they can make a difference and change the world. I wanted to give them a concrete opportunity to go out and make a difference – Faith and Service allows them to do that.”
The program introduces the middle schoolers to a variety of ways to be of service to their community. “There will be different opportunities for the kids to feed the hungry,” Mr. Griffin explained, such as when the students cooked 100 meals for women and children affected by abuse at St. Hugh of Lincoln Church in Huntington Station on Nov. 12. The students will also have the chance to work with seniors, such as when 25 of them visited The Bristal senior care facility in North Hills on Nov. 18, where they made cupcakes and Thanksgiving wreaths with the residents. The students made another visit to the senior center Dec. 8, on their day off from school. “I am also hoping to do something with or for veterans,” Mr. Griffin added. As for the faith portion of the program, in addition to the service being a way for the kids to put their faith into action, “we pray at the beginning and end of each service trip,” Mr. Griffin noted.
About 45 students from the Elementary School participate in the program, which is open right now only to the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students, “but I am hoping to grow it into something more widespread for the parish and high schoolers,” Mr. Griffin continued. “I want the kids to see that they truly can make a difference in this world, right now and in the future. The greatest thing I have seen so far is that the kids are recognizing people in need and they truly want to help and make a difference.”St. Mary’s Elementary Students Earn Girl Scout Silver Award
Brooke Bossé and Justine Cuomo, 8th grade students at Saint Mary’s Elementary School, have earned the Girl Scout Silver Award; the highest recognition for achievement in Girl Scouting at the Cadette level.
The girls focused their project on helping children with little or no access to books. They chose to work in conjunction with The Book Fairies, a non-profit organization that gives free books to high poverty schools across Long Island. After educating the St. Mary’s Elementary School community on the mission of The Book Fairies, the girls planned and organized a one-week book collection and requested that each student donate one book. At the end of the week, the girls well exceeded their goal and had collected 4,121 books! Over 20 hours were spent collecting, sorting and boxing the books. Thank you to St. Mary’s Elementary School 5th grader Brady Bossé and St. Mary’s High School 9th graders, Brett Bossé, Eamon Dunning and Matt Vaccaro for helping load the 67 boxes of books into the U-Haul truck. The donation of books from St. Mary’s Elementary School will go a long way in helping schools with minimal or non-existent school libraries.
When asked what their favorite part of the project was, Brooke said, “My favorite part about the collection was thanking the students for their donation and telling them the books were going to encourage the love of reading in many children.” Justine said, “My favorite part was collecting the books at the end of every school day and being amazed at how many books we received.”
In the future, if you have any books you would like to donate, please consider The Book Fairies (www.thebookfairies.org) so they can continue their work fostering literacy.Plandome Fire Department Visits St. Mary’s Elementary School
October was Fire Safety Month, and the children in Saint Mary’s Elementary School’s Early Childhood Education program got a hands-on lesson with a visit from the Plandome Fire Department on Thursday, Nov. 3. The Nursery and Pre-K students were excited to see one of the fire engines pull into the school parking lot, where they got to chance to walk through the cab of the fire truck, try on a fire helmet and learn about the hose, siren, gear and other tools used to fight fires. They also got to meet two of Plandome’s volunteer firefighters, who are also St. Mary’s Elementary School parents – Jon Colello, father of Maeve, and Matthew Sherwood, father of Natalie; both girls are in St. Mary’s Pre-K class. Mr. Colello and Mr. Sherwood gave all the children a quick lesson on fire safety, including not playing with matches, not being scared of a firefighter dressed in all his gear, and practicing a family fire drill at home. Afterward, the children each received a red plastic fire hat, coloring books and tattoos of their own in recognition of being “junior firefighters.”Saint Mary’s Middle School Students Learn About Vocations
Saint Mary’s Elementary School sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students attended a vocations assembly in Immaculata Hall auditorium Friday, Oct. 28. Father Jiha Lim, parochial vicar of the Church of Saint Mary and chaplain for The Schools of St. Mary, introduced the speaker, Father Joseph Fitzgerald, Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
“Since the beginning of time, God’s had a plan for you,” Father Fitzgerald told the students. “Ultimately, it’s to know God intimately, to love Him and to serve Him and His Church. Vocation comes from the root for calling, voce, hearing the calling of God. Father Jiha, at some point in his journey in life, God said in a voice, ‘I want you to be one of my priests to serve my Church.’” At some point in his life, social studies teacher Michael Griffin “was called to serve God and the Church, to speak to you guys about that social studies stuff, but my guess is he has a lot of other messages about being those amazing young women and men that you were created to be. That was his vocation.”
Father Fitzgerald shared his own vocations journey with the students. Growing up in North Babylon, “my family wasn’t always perfect, but in my family, Church and God were important. My father is a big athlete, so sports were important, but God was more important.” Father Fitzgerald served as an altar server until he was a senior in high school, played sports in high school and college, became a social studies teacher and made the U.S. national handball team after college and in 1996 played handball in the Olympics. He played handball professionally in Europe afterward, but “no matter where we traveled around the world playing this game, on Sunday, I was in church.”
Whatever you’re doing in life, he told the students, “the question is this: does it give you peace? So for me, as I traveled around the world and did all these cool things, there was still this unrest. There are different kinds of vocations. There’s marriage. There’s the religious life. There’s the single life, and then there’s the priesthood, so I thought like most people that God was calling me to marriage.” He noted that he was engaged for a time but realized eventually that “we weren’t called to be together because I was called to be a priest. When you look around, most of the people you know go into the vocation of marriage, but there are also some in this room whom God might be calling differently, perhaps to serve as a religious sister with the poorest of the poor, to go to parts of this country or parts of this world that most people won’t go, but maybe God laid it on your heart. Or maybe some of you guys are being called to be a religious brother possibly to teach or again, to serve the poorest of the poor. Or maybe some of you guys look at the life of someone like Father Jiha or Father Bob, your pastor, and say ‘I think God might be calling me to this.’”
“Here’s the catch. My guess is many of you if not all of you have one of these,” he noted, holding up a phone. “They’re great, but it’s also really distracting. And if you don’t slow down just a little, you’re not going to hear how and what God is calling you to. That’s what a day like this is all about, in the busyness of social studies and religion tests, to just slow down a little bit, to open your heart and answer that question: ‘Who do I say that Jesus is?’ Is he more than a really cool guy, or is he the Son of God and master of my life? And that’s the key, to slow down just enough to do that. I know in my life, with all those cool opportunities, whether it was playing sports in college or the Olympic games or playing professionally in Europe, I made time for God.”
Father Fitzgerald pointed at the stage behind him. “I know some of you are pretty amazing when it comes to what happens up on this stage – you can sing, you can dance, and that’s a way to glorify God. Some of you, in that classroom, are amazing. When it comes to math, you get it. When it comes to social studies, you get it. And that’s a way to glorify God. And I know there are many of you are who are pretty good on the sports field or court. So I’m not saying that stuff is bad. What I am saying to you is you have to take a little bit of time and slow down and really listen. The reality is God doesn’t wait until you receive Confirmation or until you’re 25. He’s calling now. He’s putting seeds in our heart to make a difference in this world. One of the things I know about this school is they really try to encourage your character, about being men and women of faith and God and being conscious of other people. When you’re here, when you’re in this school, don’t think that you can’t make an impact. Don’t think that God isn’t calling you right now to make a difference. Don’t think that your one life can’t affect others. All of those things are part of the voce, the voice, the calling. Our God is a good guy. He’s not going to make us do anything we don’t want to. He’s not going to make you become a priest if you don’t want to become a priest or a nun if you don’t want to be a nun. He’s going to invite you into a relationship and say, ‘All I’m asking you to do is open your heart and open your mind. I have something in store for you.’”Saint Mary’s Elementary School Class of 2017 Off to a Great Start
Saint Mary’s Elementary School’s Class of 2017 is off to a great start this academic year. They continued an annual tradition Friday, Sept. 16 with its eighth grade breakfast, organized and assisted by the students’ parents. The eighth-graders, along with their teachers, enjoyed a beautiful spread of bagels, donuts, eggs, chocolate-covered strawberries, juice and more amid balloons and an official “Class of 2017” banner, as they kicked off their final year at the Elementary School. On Thursday, Sept. 29, even the dreary, overcast morning couldn’t put a damper on the excitement of the students as they left on the annual eighth-grade Club Getaway trip. On this overnight excursion to a lakeside camp in the Berkshire Mountains, the kids have fun sharing in activities such as hiking, rock wall climbing and karaoke, while having a chance to bond with each other. Before the bus departed, Father Jiha Lim, parochial vicar of the Church of Saint Mary and chaplain of The Schools of Saint Mary, led everyone in a blessing, praying for a “happy and healthy” trip and that the students and their teachers returned “reinvigorated, strengthened and more powerful” in their faith and themselves.Saint Mary’s Elementary School Opening Mass
The students of Saint Mary’s Elementary School attended Mass at the Church of St. Mary Sept. 9 for the first time as a school community this academic year. Members of the Elementary School family served as lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and altar servers at the parish Mass, which was celebrated by Father Robert Romeo, pastor, and Father Jiha Lim, parochial vicar and new chaplain of The Schools of Saint Mary.
“Welcome back,” Father Bob told all the students and faculty. “You’re coming back for a very exciting year, a year for which we hope and pray and wish for the blessing of God in our life, that we come to journey to know him better.”
After introducing the newly ordained and newly named chaplain Father Jiha, new assistant principal Sarah de Venoge and the new parish youth minister, St. Mary’s Elementary School teacher Michael Griffin, Father Bob noted, “We’re very confident we’ll have another wonderful year at St. Mary’s Elementary School. As we begin this year, we dedicate this year always to Jesus, but we in a special way are dedicated to Our Lady. We are a parish and school named after her. Let us turn to her, pray her prayer of praise and let us consecrate this year to her eternal love.”