Students in Catholic Schools Study Saints, Teach Others About Them


Addison Zubrzycki, a student at St. Mary’s School in Canandaigua, plays the role of Saint Teresa to teach the saint to the younger ones. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Milano)

Saints came to life last month at St. Mary’s School in Canandaigua and St. Francis-St. Stephen School in Geneva.

In October, many students from both schools spent several weeks researching the lives of the Saints and preparing presentations on the Saints of their choice. At the beginning of November, they disguised themselves as these saints and told their comrades about them.

“They got into character,” remarked Mercy Sister Laurie Orman, a college religion and social studies teacher at St. Mary’s School.

Sister Orman said she was impressed with how her seventh and eighth graders enthusiastically shared what they had learned with the younger students at St. Mary’s.

“They were talking about their faith and what they had learned. They don’t have this opportunity very often, ”she noted.

When they began searching for saints in October, some of Sister Orman’s students chose Saints whose feast days fell on their birthdays, and some chose Saints who shared their names, while others had chosen saints who were the patrons of the hobbies they enjoyed. Each student researched three saints before choosing a saint to focus on for the project.

“They put together a one-page first-person account, so they had to speak like they were the saint, and they made the tri-fold panels with their information about the saint,” he said. -she explains. “They always put a lot of effort into things, so I was like, ‘Why can’t we share this? “”

Sister Orman’s students prepared for a two-day march for All Saints’ Day, which took place at St. Mary’s Church on November 1-2. On each of these days, half of his students dressed up as saints of their choice and spaced out inside the church. The other half of the students acted as tour guides and led small groups of young students from one saint to another.

“At first they were really nervous, but then when you walked around and listened, they were talking like these saints were what they are. It was a great way for them to be able to share what they were doing with others, ”said Sister Orman.

Presenting as her chosen saint – Saint Gertrude of Nivelles – ended up being the favorite part of Maeve Jankowski’s entire project, in seventh grade.

“I was really excited to have the chance to introduce the younger ones and teach them about the Saints,” Maeve said. “I have always liked talking to younger people. It’s always fun to see their reactions and help them learn.

Choosing her saint’s costume was one of the favorite parts of seventh-grade student Merrick Khan’s project. The saint chosen by Merrick, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, is one of the many patron saints of sailors, and she frequently wears a bonnet when depicted in paintings and sculptures.

“I didn’t have a beanie, but I had a blue bob with little anchors on it. She’s a patron saint of seafarers, so I thought that was really appropriate, ”Merrick explained.

As part of their presentations, Sister Orman’s students were also to give something of interest to their Saints. The student representing St. Patrick, for example, handed out small coins, and the student representing St. Joan of Arc gave out coloring paper shields for the younger ones, Sister Orman said.

“The younger ones really enjoyed it. Some parents mentioned that their children had come home and talked about it, ”she said.

Students in grades five, six and seven at St. Francis-St. Stephen School, meanwhile, also taught their classmates about their favorite saints. They spent a month researching their saints and preparing presentations, according to Pamela Kehoe, a religion teacher at the college and a Spanish teacher at the Geneva school. On All Saints’ Day, students dressed up as saints of their choice, participated in a procession to Mass, and then visited school classrooms to talk about their saints.

“Our goal was for students to choose a saint that they could relate to or that they wanted to know more about,” Kehoe explained. “We want them to know that it is very possible to be a saint, that we just need to trust God and stay close to him and his sacraments so that we can know him, love him, serve him and be with him now and forever. Heaven is our goal, and the Saints will help us show us the way and pray for us.

St. François-St. Stephen’s 8th graders also produced a video about Blessed Carlo Acutis, who died in 2006 at the age of 15 and beatified in October 2020. Grades 1 to 4 students studied saints and participated in projects of service related to these saints.

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