May 4-10, 2006
God’s Message of Love
By St. Mary’s Academy staff
St. Mary’s Academy Promotes Academic Excellence in a Caring Environment
BALDWINSVILLE — Fostering academic excellence in a faith-filled environment has always been a hallmark of a St. Mary’s Academy education. Seeking to develop the whole child, the school provides a Christ-centered foundation, while incorporating activities to enrich each child’s school experience. As St. Mary Academy’s mission statement highlights, “We provide an exceptional academic program for grades pre-k through six.” But, the school community also reaches out in service to each other, our parish and our community. It is the “faith in action” moments that provide opportunities for students to bear witness to their faith.
Each month, a different class plans and participates in a Mass offered for the school and parish community. These Masses are held on the first Friday of the month, or as a Holy Day observance. Even kindergarten students help to plan and participate in all parts of the Mass. Besides liturgical celebrations, all students participate in weekly prayer services on Monday mornings, daily prayer and meditations, and monthy service projects that reach out to the community outside of St. Mary’s Parish.
Each week begins with a school meeting and prayer service in the gym. This time serves two purposes: it provides opportunities for announcing birthdays and acknowledging students’ accomplishments such as Class of the Month or Principal’s Corner achievements, while also presenting a chance to build a sense of unity within the entire school. Each Monday meeting and prayer service concludes with “passing the love around” — a gentle hand squeeze greeting that begins with one individual and flows from person to person, as they are holding hands, until the person who started the love receives it back.
This year, service projects have included a St. Mary’s marathon, support for victims of Hurricane Katrina, donations of non-perishable items for the food pantry, Christmas presents for the residents of Syracuse Home, donations of baby gifts for Lullaby League, Valentines for troops, Pennies for Patients and Operation Rice Bowl. Students will also collect bottle and can deposit money to send funds to the Juvenile Diabetes Association. The school community collected $1,334.90 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “Pennies for Patients” project. Students emptied their banks of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and even dollars to make donations to improve the quality of life for patients and families affected by these cancers.
Besides planned service projects, students put faith into action by participating in other activities that reach out to those in need. They have sent cards to sick children, mailed letters to nursing home residents, collected many can tabs for the Ronald McDonald House, and performed a Christmas concert for the residents of Syracuse Home. Throughout the year, sixth grade students have offered their services to St. Mary’s Human Development Program.
At St. Mary’s Academy, religion is not just a subject that is taught. St. Mary’s is a school that promotes Christian values as well as academic standards. Families of the students believe their children spend their days with extended family at the school. Educational excellence exists in an environment that reflects acceptance and comfort derived from God’s message of love.