Trading Places

Trading Places

Blessed Sacrament students try out faculty and staff jobs for a day during Catholic Schools Week

How fun can Catholic Schools Week be in the Syracuse Diocese? At Blessed Sacrament School in Syracuse, students can change jobs with any of the faculty and staff, even the principal. On Jan. 31, Blessed Sacrament students took over for an hour during the afternoon and learned a little about how important each job in a school is.

Andrea Polcaro, principal at Blessed Sacrament School, said, “Job Swap Raffle” has become one of the most popular events of the week. “It’s always been a tradition to do this during Catholic Schools Week,” said Polcaro. Students purchase raffle tickets for 25 cents or 5 chances for $1, for the opportunity to be the principal, secretary, custodian or classroom teacher of their choice for a day. All monies collected from the “Job Swap Raffle” will go toward buying a washing machine for the Oxford Inn, a shelter for homeless men in Syracuse. This year, Stephen Silkey, a third grader at Blessed Sacrament School, won the raffle for principal. Stephen said he used some strategy with his raffle tickets to have the best opportunity to win. He was excited to win in his first year at the Catholic school. “I think it’s pretty cool that they have a job raffle here. It’s going to be fun to be the principal,” Stephen said.

Polcaro called raffle winners for each position to her office to explain what was going to happen on Job Swap Day. “After I pulled the name, I explained to them the responsibility of the jobs they were going to have. It was up to them to network with the teacher,” Polcaro said. “It’s a job shadowing and mentoring, but also a great learning experience to put themselves into the classroom or into the shoes of someone on staff. And they find it’s not all that easy.” Students took their respective places at 1 p.m. Stephen walked proudly into Polcaro’s office and planted himself in the principal’s chair. “This is pretty good,” he said. But Polcaro came in, sharing some of the responsibilities the young man would have.

“You have to go and visit the kids and make sure everything is going ok. You need to make sure the teachers are doing their jobs,” Polcaro told Stephen. Part of the new principal’s job would also be to read the January birthdays over the intercom.

Lauren Percia, a third grader, took over as the school’s secretary. It didn’t take long before the phone rang and Lauren went to work. “Good afternoon, Blessed Sacrament School,” said Lauren. Her first call was a parent requesting her kids go to the after-school program. “The best part of the job is answering the phone,” Lauren said. “It’s not very hard.” Another group of students had the daunting task of being a school janitor for the day. Fifth-grader Mack Alcott said he enjoyed the work. “Janitors have an important job and put a lot of time and effort into it,” Mack said. He said that his brothers had also been janitors at the school during Job Swap Day in the past.

Janet Ferguson, an art teacher at the school, shared her classroom with kindergarten student John Frazier. John said he was excited to win the raffle to be the art teacher. “This is a lot of fun. I told the kids to color and make a design on the paper, then cut it out and make it into a snowflake,” John said. “I wanted the class to do this because I love making snowflakes.”

The nurse’s office was the first choice for third grader Megan Reeves. Donna Dooley, the school’s full-time nurse, enjoyed showing Megan some of the tricks of the trade. “It’s the perfect opportunity to give them a quick First Aid class,” Dooley said. “I teach them the importance of washing their hands and taking care of people, giving them TLC.” Megan was dressed in a nurse’s scrubs, complete with a nurse’s hat. “It’s fun, especially when you get to help people,” she said. “You feel great after you help someone.” This year’s theme for Catholic Schools Week was “Making a World of Difference.” Blessed Sacrament School focused on a different group or subject each day. Jan. 29 was “Making a World of Difference Through Academics” Day. Students in grades K-6 displayed their projects during their “Expert Expo.”

“Because the main focus was on service, we were able to have each class work on projects for community groups,” Polcaro said. Students collected money for Aurora of Central New York, made Valentine Day cards for servicemen and women deployed overseas, collected blankets and towels for the SPCA and made welcome boxes for children living at Vera House. Polcaro was proud of her students’ work and said Catholic Schools Week was again a huge success. “We had a really great week. It was really fantastic,” said Polcaro.

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