The beginning of a new school year is a time of excitement and joy as the children return from their summer vacations. They are welcomed back to school by joyful teachers and staff, as they quickly settle into a new rhythm and routine. A few parts of this normal back-to-school routine are different this year and we are excited to embrace the change. Typically, we’ve celebrated the School Mass in the Grass followed by meeting the teachers and dropping off students’ school supplies. However, this year, students dropped off school supplies and met their new teachers first. Immediately following the meet and greet, students and their families had Mass in the Grass. A huge celebration followed with dinner and games for all of the kids.
“Becky Bliefnick was a big inspiration for this change in events,” says Principal Cindy Venvertloh. “We don’t just want to remember her in the context of the tragedy, we want to celebrate her life and how she was a big part of our school family. So this back-to-school bash was in honor of her and many of the activities were inspired by her and put together not only by her friends here at the school, but we had many of her friends and former coworkers coming in from the community to put this together as well. This absolutely was a tragedy but we are blessed to see the beautiful things that do come out of those tragedies.”
As we begin a new school year filled with hope and expectation, we fully embrace that which sets us apart from all of the other schools — our Catholic faith.
“Being a Catholic school, we embrace that mission to teach and pass on the faith to the children,” Mrs. Venvertloh says. “It just makes sense to start the school year off by celebrating the Eucharist. Our students are like little parishioners that we are helping to grow in their faith as well.”
In addition to opening the school year with Mass, a new tradition has started at the school to begin the school year in prayer. The Prayer Walk began a few years ago, starting with an idea from a local women’s Bible study.
Anyone from the parish, school, or community was invited to join the Aug. 15 Prayer Walk for the school. The walk began by the office and processed through the school with music. Then, it stopped in the main areas of the school for prayer and invocation of particular saints relating to that part of the school. For example, St. Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes, was asked to intercede for the activities taking place throughout the school year in the gym.
“We really encourage families to come and participate in this Prayer Walk,” says Gina Bergman, who coordinated this event. “It is a beautiful way to model their faith to the children and expose their children to different kinds of prayer. It is one more example of beginning the school year in prayer.”
The walk proceeded through the principal’s office and teacher’s lounge. It stopped at classrooms and the cafeteria, as participants prayed for the students and staff and all of the things that will take place this upcoming year.
“It is important to start our new school year off by covering the school in prayer,” Gina says. “We must rely on God, and with the new school year comes change and uncertainty, so it is great to pray for the school and the students and staff.”
Embracing our Catholic faith with these traditions of starting the school year with Mass and the Prayer Walk was certainly a beautiful way to incorporate our faith in the school. We ask that you continue to pray for the students and staff and they settle into a routine for the new academic year.
For more information about St. Peter’s School, please visit stpeterschool.com.