By Celine Klosterman
DEWITT – St. Joseph Catholic School wants even its littlest students to know it’s not too early to start living the Gospel.
The school is reminding kindergarteners through eighth-graders of that truth this year through a song and posters reflecting the school’s first theme, “Never Too Young.” With lyrics such as “We are never too young to witness; we are never too young to serve,” the song promotes St. Joseph’s Catholic identity, Principal Sharon Roling said.
She and Julie Weirup, vocal music teacher, chose the theme this summer after browsing through new songbooks the school had bought through a memorial for St. Joseph parishioner Marianne McGarry. The book “Never Too Young: Spirit & Song for Young People” — an Oregon Catholic Press collection of contemporary music — included a tune called “Never Too Young.” As Weirup played that song on a stereo in the school’s music room, Roling happened to walk in while reading the lyrics to the same composition.
Weirup saw the coincidence as a sign. “I firmly believe that was the direction of the Holy Spirit,” she said.
A graphic artist from the Grant Wood Area Education Agency designed an image of a cross surrounded by lyrics from the song in St. Joseph’s school colors, blue and gold. Posters displaying the image hang in hallways and classrooms throughout the building.
Weirup played the song in music class to prepare students to sing it at school Masses, and children “lit up” as they noticed the lyrics matched the posters, she said. “Our students have always been very active in worship and Masses.” But the upbeat “Never Too Young” — which describes itself as a rockabilly, or mix of rock and country — really inspires enthusiasm, Weirup said. “I think the new song tied with our theme, and some of our other new music, is engaging the kids even more than in the past.”
Though the Spirit and Song collection is designed for students in grades four to eight, she said, “it’s very doable for primary kids. When you say ‘never too young,’ they get that we’re talking about them. They understand that ‘Even though I’m 5 and in kindergarten, I can talk about the Lord and do the right thing.’”