Our Lady of Victory Catholic School: It’s all in the family

OLV kindergarten teacher Jessica Hauser shows the revised “U is for Uniform” to kindergarten students.
OLV kindergarten teacher Jessica Hauser shows the revised “U is for Uniform” to kindergarten students. Photo provided

Editor’s note: The following story appeared in the May Family Pages section.

When parents describe Our Lady of Victory Catholic School as “like a family,” Principal Samantha Weakland said she takes that as the highest compliment.

OLV schools offer Catholic education for children in preschool through eighth grade. Children coming from families of all faiths and family structures are welcome at OLV.

A family that learns together

With small class sizes, “OLV teachers and students really know and appreciate one another,” explained Weakland. On special days, the elementary teachers do “switch-a-roos,” during which teachers do fun activities and get to know students from many grade levels.

Students in the upper grades serve as “reading buddies” for children in kindergarten and first grade. As part of their science class, eighth-graders composed books about cell biology. The students then shared their books with fifth-grade students, who were also learning about cell structure.

Students are often seen in the classrooms and sitting in groups in the school hallways working together on group projects.

A family that works together

“Our parent volunteers are one of the biggest assets to the school,” Weakland said.

Parents help in the classrooms with weekly “learning centers,” math flash cards, educational activities and class parties, as well as the Walk-a-thon and committee work.

Kindergarten teachers Jen Rogan and Jessica Hauser worked together with two parents to create the online book, “U is for Uniform,” to help incoming OLV students with the transition to kindergarten.

“(The book) helped my somewhat shy 5-year-old to see pictures of things she would actually experience and people she would see at OLV. It was better than just a generic book about kindergarten,” OLV parent Lesley Jackson said.

A family that plays together

OLV Day, Family Fun Night, All School Field Day, the Spring Concert and the Year End Picnic are a few of the annual school-centered events that bring students and families together for fun and fellowship.

This year’s Father-Daughter Dance was a favorite for third-grader Brynn Wright.

“I liked the last slow dance the best,” she said.

All State College area families can share in the fun with OLV families by joining in the second annual Victory 5K Run/1 Mile Family Walk on May 14.

OLV sports teams provide avenues for many OLV students to have fun together outside the classroom. OLV students also enjoy practicing and performing as part of the band and strings programs, the musical and forensics team.

A family that prays together

Each school day at OLV opens with communal prayer. Students pray with their class throughout the school day.

“Prayer is central to the OLV experience,” Weakland said.

Each Wednesday, all OLV students and faculty join together in the OLV Church for Mass. At the school Mass, students read the assigned Scripture, serve as ushers and cantors and recite the petitions.

“It is something to see all 300-plus students along with their teachers and some school parents praying together,” OLV parent Brandi Wright said.

A family that gives to others

“Student-led and schoolwide service projects give our students opportunities to put Catholic social teaching into practice,” Weakland said.

Already this year OLV students and families have filled hundreds of Jared Boxes for chronically ill children, donated scores of school supplies to St. Rita’s Inclusive School in Cameroon for children with special needs, collected bags of mittens, gloves and hats for local families in need, and raised funds to purchase goats, chicks and even a water pump for those served by Food for the Poor.

Most recently, second- and fifth-grade students chose to forgo their usual lunch for a meatless meal and donate their “lunch money” to Catholic Relief Services.

“The luncheon opened the students’ eyes to how other people, especially the less fortunate, live and eat,” second-grade teacher Joanne Venturino said. “It also gave them a better understanding of how their donations help others.”

Kathy Peters is a parent of four OLV students and an OLVCS graduate. Andrea Brandimarte is the middle school language arts teacher and parent of two OLV graduates.

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