By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
BURLINGTON — Catholic schools look beyond the teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic, says Bill Maupin, principal of Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School. “It’s about forming the whole person: their faith, academics, character and their ability to be a good citizen.”
A new “Faith Day” program at the school — the brainchild of the Notre Dame Student Council — gives high school students an opportunity to help their peers in this process.
On Tuesdays when students don’t have morning Mass — about once a month — Student Council members go to junior high and senior high classrooms and lead an interactive program that approaches modern-day issues from a faith perspective. “The goal was to improve everyone’s faith,” said Anna Marino, Student Council president. “We try to come up with activities to make people think about faith and how they can improve it.”
On the inaugural Faith Day in October, Student Council members led a session on bullying. Students watched a video on bullying, discussed bullying on a global and local level and brainstormed ways they could help make things better and put and end to bullying. Then, they designed individual messages relating to bullying and taped them to a poster board. After the presentations were finished, all of the students walked the track to demonstrate unity as a solution to stop bullying. The poster boards were displayed in hallways “as a constant reminder to be kind to others just as Jesus was,” said religion teacher Nita Carlson.
In November, respect was the topic. Leaders in assigned classrooms started off by asking students what respect means to them and the ways they do and don’t see respect shown. They then watched a YouTube video of kids performing a rap about respect. From there, each classroom came up with its own dance to that same rap. All students assembled in the gym, where each class performed their rap and dance.
Marino and Carlson work together to come up with topics for Faith Days. They find applicable videos on YouTube, and decide on activities before preparing an agenda for the student leaders to follow.
January’s faith day was to focus on helping students gain enthusiasm for Mass, as Carlson notes many student seem bored during school Masses. February’s Faith Day focuses on forgiveness — a good tie-in to the start of Lent, Marino said.
An added bonus to Faith Days, according to Carlson, is greater consistency to the Tuesday schedule. Separate schedules for Mass days and non-Mass days could be confusing for teachers and students alike. Now, every Tuesday follows the same schedule.
Maupin is pleased that Faith Days allow students another opportunity “to look at their faith, learn how to address (real-world) issues and become better people.”
He’s proud of the initiative students have taken to make Faith Days a reality. “If we have an opportunity to help students lead, we should go for it,” he said.