This year, Catholic Schools Week at St. Michael School (SMS) in Orland Park was a five-day, jammed packed celebration! For the first time, St. Michael students were visited by students from six different Catholic schools. With the help and support of Tom Zbierski from the Big Shoulders Fund, SMS parent, Jennifer Beeson and the Catholic School’s Week committee organized many special events for the week.
The theme of Catholic Schools Week was, “Raising the Standards.” Each day there was a saint and daily theme discussed in each class that helped represent how St. Michael School raises the standards in Catholic education. In addition, many of the events during the week celebrated how we all come from different cultures, yet we are one family of faith.
On Monday, January 28, second and eighth graders from Immaculate Conception School in Chicago joined the second and eighth graders from SMS. The second graders met with Father Jack for a lesson on the sacrament of First Holy Communion. The future communicants created communion banners to carry while they process into church on their special day. Meanwhile, Father Paul brought together the eighth graders for a special prayer service focused on the sacrament of Confirmation. The eighth graders completed their lesson by making four large banners. Two banners will hang in St. Michael Church and two banners will hang in Immaculate Conception Church on the days of the 8th graders confirmations. All visitors from Immaculate Conception stayed for lunch, and the students had a wonderful time conversing and sharing stories.
On Tuesday, January 29, the St. Michael beginner and advanced bands performed their favorite songs and the powerful school fight song. Several choir members from St. Nicholas Ukrainian Cathedral School in Chicago performed traditional Ukrainian songs. Mrs. Maria Klysh-Finiak, principal of St. Nicholas, explained that her students were still celebrating Christmas! All the songs were sung in Ukrainian and Klysh-Finiak translated the meaning behind each song and even taught the SMS students a few Ukrainian words. It was very impressive. Equally impressive was Mr. Brian O’Rouke, principal of St. Procopius, who brought twenty 3 and 4 year old students that performed a traditional Mexican folklore dance. All schools did an excellent job demonstrating their unique talents, and the assembly was a wonderful example of how people could be members of different cultures, yet also be Catholic.
On Wednesday, January 30, SMS students and staff enjoyed a dress down day to wear their favorite St. Michael clothes and coors to show their school spirit. The 5th graders had a special visit from the 5th grade students of Cardinal Joseph Bernadine School (CJB) in Orland Hills. CJB and SMS often compete in athletics and academic bowls, and this was first time students from these schools came together to collaborate on an academic activity. After working on a science project, the students worked together to play GeoBee on the iPads. The 5th graders interacted, joked and genuinely enjoyed their time together.
On Thursday, January 31, the SMS 4th grade students had an outstanding and rewarding visit from 3rd and 4th graders from Santa Lucia Catholic School. The students worked on projects that encouraged discussions about the different cultures they come from. The purpose of the activities was that even though we come from many cultures, we all share the same faith in being Catholic. The children displayed a symbol of their cultural heritage on a puzzle piece. Once all the pieces fit together the children realized “we are like a puzzle. We are different, yet we all fit together.” The SMS students displayed six main cultures that were represented that day and a few children shared words spoken in that particular language. Both classes learned words in Gaelic, German and many more. The culmination of the day was when some SMS students performed traditional Irish dances for the Santa Lucia students. It was an enriching experience for both schools. On
Friday, February 1, the final day of Catholic Schools Week, St. Michael students celebrated and honored their teachers. The outstanding choir from St. John de la Salle School (of 4th-8th graders), joined the SMS Children’s choir (3rd-8th graders) in singing at a mass that was the finale of Catholic Schools Week. In honor of St. Blaise, Father Paul spoke about, “watching how we speak to each other and being kind to one another.” Then the liturgical staff performed the blessing of the throats. Then SMS principal, Mrs. Bernadette Cuttone, presented the Teachers of the Year awards to Mrs. Mary Waters and Mrs. Kathleen Sulikowski. The Alumni of the Year award was given to Mrs. Mary Berardelli, and the very special Susie Dunphy Catholic Spirit Award was given to Mrs. Valerie Stoub. The choirs sang together and took turns on some songs throughout the mass and the processional song was so full of energy and excitement, the entire congregation was on their feet singing and clapping!
“It was one of the most powerful and dynamic masses I have been to in a long time,” stated Bridget Patula, SMS parent. It was a proud moment for St. Michael School and having St. John de la Salle help celebrate was a wonderful way to end Catholic Schools Week!
For more information regarding St. Michael School, please call (708)349-0068 or go to www.saintmike.org.