Dear Families of Saint Joseph Elementary,
I would like to focus on a parent concern that was brought to my attention. The concern is around Faith Families. First and foremost, I want to assure you that I recognize that Faith Families are an integral part of our school identity.
The Faith Family program was created to foster a spirit of welcoming and acceptance among the students of Saint Joseph Elementary School. Each Faith Family is lead by an eighth grader and is comprised of a member of each grade. This “buddy program” allows for personal, one-on-one attention to support our youngest students and to integrate them more fully into our vibrant school community.
Approximately once a month, we have a Faith Family activity. In September, we participated in a “getting to know you” activity in which each “family” raced to find random items in their backpacks. In October, our Faith Families participated in our “Jump Rope for Heart” program to highlight healthy lifestyle choices. In November, our focus was on our veterans. Each Faith Family wrote and decorated a card that was them sent to our veterans in the armed forces. In December, the focus will be community building as each Faith Family will play games together. Throughout the rest of the year, our Faith Families will concentrate on service projects for our “Welcome the Stranger” program which welcomes refugee families fleeing from political or religious persecution.
I know how beautiful it is to see our Faith Families gathered for our Weekly Liturgies. It brings out the best in all of our students. However, I discovered while sitting in the back, behind the last row of students, that our most youngest, the kindergarten, first and second could only see the backs of our older students through the entire Liturgy. They also received a blessing or Eucharist only from the back of the church. I felt they were missing out due to not being able to see and never getting to be at the front of the church.
We are now structured where I believe, the younger children are more able to engage with Father and to participate in a more conscious way. There will be other opportunities for Faith Families moving forward to experience our church family together.
On another note, during this Advent season our classes have been reflecting on the meaning of Christmas. I would like to share their thoughts:
Some reflections on Christmas from our seventh graders:
Love, Peace, Cherish, Family, Warmth, Friends, Joy, Hope, Jesus, Hot Chocolate
One sixth grade student quoted Calvin Coolidge: "Christmas is not a time nor a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas."
Finally, our sixth grade class reflected on Psalm 23 and created their own translation:
O God, you are the gift - giver to us all.
You give us faith, hope and unite everyone.
You protect us and grant us our needs.
Those who do wrong are taught otherwise by you.
You are the ultimate savior. You can do no wrong.
We give praise and thanks to you for helping us.
We shall be forever in your debt.
In the debt of the Holy One.
God’s Blessings On Each of Us
Dr. Marquita Yriarte