By incorporating schoolwide themes into the school year, students put different elements of character development into practice on a day-to-day basis, said Kristina Tice, principal of Saint John the Evangelist Catholic School in Bellefonte.
“Students adopt the theme as individuals and also work together to hold each other accountable to the goals we are seeking to achieve as a school community,” she said.
Last year’s theme was: “If you love me, feed my sheep,” and Tice said it proved to be inspirational. Students raised thousands of dollars for nine causes, including Pixie Dust Wishes, the Pa. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the American Heart Association.
“(It reminded) them how they can take care of one another as part of being a school family,” Tice said.
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This year’s theme will be: “Shine Bright at St. John,” based on Psalm (139:14), “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”
“This year’s theme was selected to encourage every student to realize and appreciate the unique gifts they’ve received from God, and the importance of nurturing those gifts for the benefit of others,” Tice said.
Throughout the year, teachers and administrators will highlight academic strengths in reading, math, science and other areas such as music, public speaking and, of course, service to others. When students go above and beyond to help another student or assist a teacher or peer without being asked, they will receive recognition.
In addition to this theme, every month will include a special focus on the nine fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Classroom activities and schoolwide projects will be part of this effort.
The fruits of the spirit initiative will begin with kindness — always a core teaching at St. John.
“We are always teaching students to practice kindness, at school, at home and everywhere they go. During the year we visit local businesses and organizations to remind students what it means to be a good neighbor,” Tice said.
Kindness and other monthly themes will be used throughout the curriculum in art, music, gym, writing assignments, class projects and even at after-school programs. Students will learn about the goal associated with each theme at the beginning of every month.
Teachers and students alike are eager for a new year to shine bright at St. John School.
Jodie Dello Stritto is a member of the St. John Evangelist Catholic School Council.