Blessed Four Times Over

Feb. 2-8, 2006
Blessed Four Times Over
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Our Lady of Lourdes School Receives Grants That Will Enhance Programming

UTICA — Christmas 2005 was a little brighter for everyone at Our Lady of Lourdes School. The school had just learned it had been awarded a $15,000 grant for the enrichment of arts in its curriculum. This grant was made possible with funds from the Arts Infusion Program, a re-grant program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered by the Central New York Community Arts Council, Inc.

The school also received three grants totaling $61,000, earmarked for its gymnasium renovation. The Syracuse Diocese awarded a school capital improvement grant totaling $55,000 through the Heritage Campaign. Secondly, a $5,000 grant was received from the New York State Educational Department. This grant was made possible through the efforts of State Sen. Raymond Meier (R-C 47). Lastly, a $1,000 grant was received for the project from the Community Foundation. The gymnasium renovation project will begin in the spring. The improvements will include new flooring, wall padding, backboards and bleachers, among other planned improvements.

“It’s an answer to our prayers,” said principal Carol Polito. “Several generations have used this gym. Last year, we realized we needed to renovate it; so we started to fundraise for a new floor. Then, in November, we applied for Heritage funds. As we completed the application, we discovered that we needed to meet the requirements of ensuring the children’s safety and energy conservation.”

On Dec. 15, the staff at Our Lady of Lourdes heard it had received the grant for the enrichment of the arts in its curriculum. “We were thrilled to receive the grant because grant money is the way in which we supplement our programs,” said Polito. “The arts enrich the lives of our children. We felt we had received a Christmas gift. I made the announcement at our Christmas concert that night.”

Teachers Mary Rossi and Barbara Wojcik were instrumental in applying for the grant. Third-grade teacher Rossi said they had learned that the New York State Council on the Arts had some money to bestow on a deserving organization. “We were looking to implement our Enrichment Program,” said Rossi. “When we completed the grant application form, the Council was impressed with the way that our proposed project with the Enrichment Program would affect the learning experience of the students.” Under this project, students in third through sixth grades will study mosaics, especially stained glass windows. The plan is to integrate social studies, math, English language arts, and visual arts in a creative series of activities.

Under the direction of Gary Caulkins, a stained glass artisan, students will learn how to compose and create mosaic murals that tell a story. “It’s going to bring an art form to the children that they wouldn’t normally be exposed to,” explained Rossi. The money the school received from the grant will be used to buy the materials to create the mosaic murals. The project will be done in conjunction with the school’s Enrichment Program’s study of the Middle Ages. When the students complete the mural, it will be used in a play to be performed by the students in the Enrichment Program. “We’re grateful for all the people who have contributed in any way,” said Polito.

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