“What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!” Following the quote of the Grinch himself, St. Mary School has been spending the season focusing on what Christmas can really be all about. Students have spent time practicing for school Christmas programs, collecting and wrapping gifts for others in need, and reflecting on the real meaning of the season.
Each year, St. Mary School begins the Christmas season collecting new and gently used toys for the kids of Grahn, Kentucky. Centered in Appalachia, the community has great needs that the local social service agencies are not able to meet. Starting in 1994, St. Mary School paired with the center to provide toys for nearly 100 families in need each year at Christmas. Grahn parents, without their children, are then invited in the Saturday before Christmas to shop. Each family is allotted 2 toys per child, if there are enough available. The community center volunteers then help wrap the presents, and also send them home with new shoes, 2 weeks worth of groceries and toiletries; all donated from outside agencies. Starlene Harris, director of the community center, said, “without the donations, we would have no way of providing this for our families in need and some families would just go without”.
Through the “Toys for Appalachia” program at St. Mary School, students and families have the ability to give to those who are truly in need. In return they receive the gift of knowing that their strong school community provides hope and happiness to others year after year. Although separated by many miles, the children of both Grahn and St. Mary School will be celebrating together on Christmas.
No Christmas would be complete without the traditional school program, and St. Mary School is no different. Each year, music teacher Ms. Kristina Romano spends weeks practicing with elementary students to put on an inspirational show and get everyone in the spirit of the holiday. This year families were treated to songs from the Kindergarten through 5th grade classes including recorder numbers and bells of course. Mrs. Flynn and Mrs. Rowan lead their preschoolers in Christmas pajamas through musical numbers followed by cookies and treats for all!
Lastly, the students of St. Mary School spent an afternoon taking the journey of the Holy Family with an interactive day explaining the real reason behind our celebration this holiday. Each grade level focused on a different member of the family including Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. The pilgrimage ended with a live Nativity in the church and Exalt and Adoration.
Coming from the mouths of babes, the Kindergarten students were asked, “What is Christmas?” Aubrey Yeager said, “Christmas is to celebrate Jesus’ birthday”, and Gabriella Kase said, “Christmas is about being together”. Even the youngest of students at St. Mary School have come to know there is more to the season than presents and bows. Christmas is truly a lot more!