Disciples in training St. John’s School prepares students in faith, learning and sharing
SUN Contributing writer
St. John’s the Evangelist School in Binghamton continues a long tradition of active faith, community outreach and academic achievement.
An Active Faith
Students in kindergarten through eigth grade participate in Masses by preparing the readings, songs and prayers of the faithful. Blessed with outstanding teachers in the pre-K to eigth grade, students grow in Christ through daily religion classes, prayers, and Christ-like role models.
Mass is celebrated monthly and on holy days by Father John Mikalajunas. As students partake in the Eucharist as a family, their Catholic faith is affirmed as an integral part of their Catholic education. Sister Kathleen Joy, IHM explained, “The tradition of the Christmas pageant for students in grades five through eight and the Living Stations for seventh and eighth grade students give witness to the core of a Catholic school. We also have a retreat day in Auriesville, N.Y. for the eigth graders.” Sister Kathleen teaches religion to fifth through eighth graders and eighth grade math. She has taught for 43 years, 22 of those at St. John’s.
Students in grades five through eight do service hours. “Service hours include any project that helps neighbors, elderly, sick or needy without receiving any reimbursement of any kind,” said Sister Kathleen.
Food and clothing drives remind students of those in need. Items collected from all grades go to Mother Theresa’s Cupboard, an outreach program run by Mary Roma. Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, my brethren, you did it to me.” Mt (25:35:40) These words personify the students at St. John’s.
John Kocik teaches current events. Kocik has taught at St. John’s for the past 33 years and current events for 30 years. The class includes news from entertainment, science, sports and technology. By using weekly DVDs produced by News Current, Kocik keeps kids informed and motivated. “Kids relate more to the stories and the stories give them insight,” explained Kocik, “into reasons why people do what they do.” Kocik teaches current events to fifth through eighth grade.
Student participation is strong because they see events happening and get very excited when they see the stories on the news after they have studied the DVD. “News Current is amazing. I don’t know how they get the information out before it’s all over the news. It really keeps the kids informed,” added Kocik. Seventh grade student Kavan Rai added, It lets you see what other people are thinking. It gives you an insight of opposing views from what you think.” After studying and discussing information in two DVDs, students are tested. There is also a midterm and final. Students create current events bulletin boards.
Former students have become active in local politics and directly credit the Current Events class. Another former student is a lobbyist in Albany. Gerald Eggleston, a seventh grade student, said, “It gets you caught up on what’s happening now. It gets you prepared for life.” Students form their own opinions. “It’s a great way of keeping the kids informed. I’ll continue teaching this class,” said Kocik.
Students from the sixth grade, John Van Atta, Michael Powell, Abby Galyon, Tyler Majercik-Scot, Shawn Hardy, and Corrine Mucci, placed first in the Matholon. The Matholon, sponsored by British Aeronautical Engineering (BAE) in Johnson City, N.Y., is held every November and is open to school districts in Broome County. Nine teams from Broome County competed for first place by answering six-timed rounds of various math questions. “They really did a great job. To place first was quite an accomplishment,” stated Anu Rai, math teacher for grades five through eighth. She has been with St. John the Evangelist School for 19 years.
Science Olympiad is a regional, state and national event. Linda Garbade, St. John’s fifth through eighth grade science teacher, has been coaching Science Olympiad for the last seven years. “This tournament emphasizes problem solving, teamwork and a commitment to excellence,” stated Garbade. The team consists of fifteen dedicated students who may participate in a variety of events in their skill set. Eighth grade student Daniel Pichette said, “It was fun. I worked with another student Christian Wilson to design a robot. The robot had to place balls, batteries, and Lego blocks in a coffee tin.” The 15 member team practiced during activity period, after school and on Saturday mornings. The 2008 team competed at the regional tournament and placed third out of ten teams. They advanced to the state tournament at SUNY New Paltz. They brought home a fourth place medal in Science Crime Busters.