Peacemakers

Why do you send your child to a Catholic School?  In a homily last spring, Fr. Townsend shared the following quote:

“When we teach our children to be good, to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous, to love others, we instill virtue in their souls and reveal the image of God within them.  This, then, is our task:  to educate both ourselves and our children in godliness; otherwise what answer will we have before Christ’s judgment-seat?”  St. John Chrysostom

Afterward, many of us teachers were commenting on how this was exactly what we are about here at St. Peter’s!  We liked it so much we added it to our PeaceMakers Program.

As I mentioned last week, we are preparing for PeaceMakers Week next week.  Some special activities for the children include:

  • Grades PreK-3 The NED show: this is a nation-wide assembly program on instilling virtues that involves yo-yo’s.  Students will be able to purchase NED yo-yos following the program.

peacemaker

  • Grades 4-5 will learn about resilience and responding to differences from a former graduate of St. Peter’s, Mary Flattery.
  • Grades 6-8 will hear from Tram Rademacher on her powerful story of resilience in escaping Vietnam as a child and being a refugee.

The overview of our whole program (which encompasses every day of the year and not just a single week) is listed below.  On the attachment you can find the “Core Concepts” that will be specifically taught by grade level in each classroom next week.

Sister Mary Angela

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Blessed Are the Peacemakers

“Blessed are the peacemakers…”  This month I began visiting classrooms teaching the children what it means to be a peacemaker.  As a Beatitude, this one carries with it a powerful promise, “…for they shall be called the children of God.”  We used simple actions to help us memorize the phrase as is demonstrated by three fourth graders below.  But why did I choose this theme to begin our year?

peacemakers

It all actually started with the concept of bullying.  This word has been thrown around the education world for at least 40 years.  The definitions and reactions of individuals range from “Boys will be boys” to “My child was pushed in line so the school has a bullying problem.”

The most consistent definition to date of bullying goes something like this:  “Repeated, intentional hurtful behavior toward another that involves some imbalance of power.”  But one of the bigger issues in addressing this type of behavior is our use of terminology and the underlying emotional reactions that they trigger.  One author puts it this way:

“There is the question of whether or when we should use the terms ‘bully’ and ‘victim.’ Common sense should help us decide. If you want to stigmatise someone and get them to oppose you, call him or her a bully. If you want to permanently dis-empower people, keep insisting that they are lifelong, irredeemable victims. However, if you want them to cooperate with you or be empowered you will do nothing of the sort. You will focus on their behaviour, not their character, and encourage them to behave better. BUT this does not mean we should close our eyes to the fact that some are much more prone to bully and/or be bullied than others and need special attention.” (Ken Rigby)

At St. Peter’s a team of teachers and I researched this topic last year from multiple perspectives (social, psychological, religious, academic).  Our findings resulted in creating a program unique to St. Peter’s that we have called the “PeaceMakers Program.”  It pulls from multiple sources on what we found as the best practices for working with children and families in this realm.  The following are key areas in addressing bullying behavior:

  • Every child/person is created good as an image of God and is to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • Due to original sin, every child/person has tendencies toward negative and hurtful behavior toward others, thus everyone has tendencies toward bullying behavior.
  • Calling someone a “bully” demeans their dignity and implies that he/she is not capable of change and will always be labeled as a bully. (Would you like your child called a bully when he/she does hurtful behavior?)
  • Aggressive and hurtful behaviors need to be addressed seriously, but in a way that looks for the dignity of each person involved and tries to help each one grow in the way that is needed.
  • Teaching virtue and social skills is the key to diminishing aggressive/negative behavior. It’s one thing to simply tell children, “Don’t hurt others.”  It’s another thing to instill in them a desire to do and to be good and give them tools to help them do so.
  • The more people in a child’s life who reinforce a message, the more likely the child will embrace and live that message.

That’s enough to chew on for now.  Tune in to next week’s newsletter to see an overview of the PeaceMakers Program and to help you and your child prepare for PeaceMakers Week, Sept. 25-29.

God bless you!

Sister Mary Angela

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Desire….With Teeth

This is reportedly a true story, I’ve traced it back through a few people.  When I got as far back as I could, the individual witnessed to the veracity of the original.

The little girl’s personality and joy surpassed what it seemed her small body could hold.  She loved her brother who was only two years older.  He was in second grade, she in kindergarten. The spring was approaching and First Communion was on the horizon. About a week out, the little girl bounded into her brother’s room in the early morning pouncing upon him proclaiming, “Only six days until you receive Jesus in your First Communion!” Her brother came to with a smile and humored the little girl.

The next morning the scenario repeats itself, with slight alterations, “Only five days until your First Communion!”  And it was a little bit louder and more animated, if that is possible.

The trend continued until the day arrived, and Jesus was once again received anew with love.  After Mass the family had a little reception at their house. Father came over and joined the party for a bit. The little girl’s excitement added to the celebration. At one point she went over and asked father, “When can I receive my First Communion?”

“About the time you get old enough to lose your teeth like your brother.”  Father replied. The little girl looked at him nodded and smiled.

The people went on with visiting, and a few minutes later the little girl emerged.  She walked right up to Father, he looked down at her and a look of concern grew on his face, as he could tell something wasn’t right. She opened her little hand and there, smeared with blood, were her two front teeth. She looked at him, and smiled a somewhat messy, toothless smile.  Then she said, “Can I receive my First Communion now?”

tooth

Father looked at her wide-eyed, and said, “Yes dear, I think you can.”

toothlessNow, that is a picture of desire.  Lord, I love you and I love your sacraments. Jesus give me a desire like that little girl has. Give me a love that is willing to undergo hardship and pain for love of You. Give me a joy in Your service that is new every day. Thank you, Jesus.  Were you thinking of her when you said, “Unless you become like little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of God?”

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Landon the Bug Whisperer

I’m not real fond of bugs.  I can kill a big spider if I need to, but if there’s another capable party, I’ll watch thank you.  Not so for Landon!

IMG_4515Before school in the courtyard, the second graders are pretty much all on an insect hunt!  It is obvious they are in the midst of a bug unit.  Though we have yet to complete two weeks of school, they are all about the bugs.  I find Landon in the courtyard with a HUGE CICADA on his shirt.  IMG_4512He is not screaming, not squirming, not chasing other children around with it, not doing most of the things I might expect an average second grade boy to do with a large scary looking bug.  Rather, he is calmly putting it on his shirt where others are getting close up to take a good look.  If it moves he gently picks it off his shirt and moves it to where he wants it.  As he pulls it off his shirt, I’m glad to see those little pinching gripping legs are not pull threads loose on his shirt.  I’m also working hard to look very calm and asking him to not let it crawl very far up toward his face, which he seems not to mind in the least.  Right after we took these pictures, Landon points up and says, “Look there,  a moth!”  IMG_4517It was way up on the roof of the awning; yes, he has a clear dose of love of the great outdoors and the Father’s little animals.

He is a Bug Whisperer of sorts.  Calm, draws them to himself without hurting them, he enjoys them.  I won’t go so far as to say the bugs enjoy him, as I can’t read the enjoyment level of a bug, but they sure are not scared of him, or that thing would have flown, ran, bit or scratched.

There’s pretty much a room full of Bug Whisperers in there.  I went in for the photo op this morning and asked who really likes bugs.  The hands shot up everywhere, so here’s a few of them in front of the themed bulletin board.  IMG_4519Clearly Mrs. Magnuson, too, is a Bug Whisperer.  Sister Mary Maximilian collected a few specimens at the Motherhouse for the crew, but she does not get the title of Whisperer, me either.  Nevertheless it is beautiful to see the Spirits gifts in others and in His creation appreciated by his children.  Well done, Father, Mrs. Magnuson, Landon and the whole lot of you!

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Eclipse of _____Doubt?

OK, I’ll admit it, I was impressed.  I knew the eclipse would be rare, time wise especially, but I did not anticipate it would be as awe inspiring as it was.  When I took my little glasses out and looked at the sun on a normal day preparing for the eclipse, the sun was puny.  About the size of a pea in my funky glasses.  So as the eclipse develops we get half a pea, yup, that’s how I was viewing it, still it is rare and we need to plan for it with the rest of the world.  To me it highlighted the regularity and predictability of the planets in their rotation more than putting a pretty picture before me.

Yesterday, God became more of an artist in my mind.

He was a master creator, and made beautiful things, but He did this one for those few minutes for our pleasure, and I really enjoyed it with 500 of my friends, big and little.

Mr. Vu also added a beautiful dimension to the day! Hole cameras constructed with binoculars, made the pea into an egg sized image.  Great improvement!

With the slight cloud cover, I thought we might get nothing, but the sun came right through.  Still I thought, we can see the sun and the partial phases, but in totality, we get no direct sun, so will the clouds, block the corona entirely?  I had no clue, but we all went out to see.  God had such a surprise in store for all of us.  Young and old, we all got to take it in, even the very little ones, watched the darkness descend for a few minutes.  I was so taken with the sky that I didn’t realize it got that dark until I looked at the pictures.IMG_4281

Oh God of wonders, thanks for sharing one with us yesterday.

We praise you.

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Eclipse on the Horizon

We are very much looking forward to next Monday’s eclipse! The visual below is one of my favorites from NASA.

eclipse paths

The rarity and predictability of the eclipses strikes me to the core with the complexity and REGULARITY of the orbit of the planets.  The planets have been orbiting for a long time, and if their orbits were even a little bit off meaning farther away of closer, they would eventually either fly into space or be pulled into the gravity of the planet around which they orbit.  But NO, when God placed the planets in motion he did so with a perfect balance between the centrifugal force of their mass in orbit and the gravity of the planet around which they orbit, and the Father did that for each one!  And then He waits for us to figure it out and be in awe!

 We hope to open ourselves to His wonders on Monday.  To do so with our children we will need to follow a plan and have a good deal of order for the sake of taking in the experience and doing so safely.  Here’s the general plan:

  • During recess Mr. Peter Vu, who has been dubbed our specialist for the event, will have a tent up and children may view the preliminary developments via a pin hole box or using the Solar Safety glasses.
  • About 15 minutes before the eclipse we will have a fire drill.
  • Children will move to their assigned spots on the new parking lot.

 site with parents

  •  In order to take in the sounds, possible temperature change, and growing darkness, we are going to ask the children to be quiet until after the eclipse (second whistle)
  • Children may sit, or stand, depending upon age and stability on their feet when they get to their spot.  Teachers will be with their classes
  • Anyone looking up at the sun must put their glasses on before looking up.
  • A minute before “totality” we will ask all children to put their glasses on via the PA system.
  • Ten seconds into totality, one whistle will sound.  All may safely take off their glasses and view the total eclipse.
  • One minute later (ten seconds before the eclipse ends), a whistle will sound twice signaling all to put their glasses back on and safely view the ending of the totality phase.
  • When the whistle sounds twice the children may speak and emote all they wish.

If you wish to join us you are welcome!  They say viewing with a group adds to the experience!  If you need glasses from us here we have several extra pair.  Call 402-421-6299 or email the office office@stpeterslincoln.com to reserve a pair.

  • If parents wish to join us for viewing, the old parking lot near the basketball poles would be a good place.  During the ten minutes the children are asked to be quiet, to be able to take in the sounds, we would appreciate the same from the parent area.
  • If you wish to have your child with you, please come early enough to sign them out at the front desk (10:30 at the latest), and then view by the bell tower if you wish to stay on the grounds.

SUN AND MOON, Bless the Lord!

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Glad to See a Sad Kid?

It just doesn’t sound Christian to be glad to see a sad kid.  I must confess, I kind of was.  This is what I saw.  Typically that little fellow comes out of school running 100 mph, gives his dad a hug and off they go.  This day, he trudged out, the weight of the world upon his little shoulders, slumped.  He looked up at his dad.  A tear or two rolled.  Dad bent down, and as they left, dad said to me, “He loves his teacher.”  It was the last day of school.  Yes, I was kind of glad to see more than one sad child leaving.  I must add I saw the same among the teachers.  One of them shared that, though she had no intention of letting any emotion out, it just happened.  One of the more callous boys said, “Oh boy, here she goes again.”  You have to love them!

God be praised for kids who love school and their teachers, and teachers who love their kids.  We are here to teach and learn; that works a lot better when we love, too.

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