The Sacred Heart School community is hopeful that, like chocolate and peanut butter, Catholic Schools Week and the winter homecoming Spirit Week are two great things that go great together.
Principal Mark Register said, “It’s kind of a unique week for us. ... What is usually two separate weeks full of their own activities is now one week. ... It will be crazy.”
Because of basketball schedule constraints, the weeks had to be combined. Events begin Sunday with Mass at Sacred Heart Church and the annual Knights of Columbus Free-Throw Contest in the school gym, and run through Feb. 2.
“Typically, the students look forward to both weeks,” Register said. “The winter can get long in a school setting.” Having Catholic Schools Week, then Spirit Week a couple of weeks later “breaks the monotony of a long, cold winter,” he added.
The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Mathathon is an opportunity for students in kindergarten through fifth grade to raise money to support the hospital, which, according to its website, “is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is denied treatment because of a family’s inability to pay.”
Since Sacred Heart got involved in 1988, its students have raised more than $127,000. Second grade teacher Bonnie Diefendorf, who has directed the Mathathon effort every year, said: “St. Jude’s tells me that for the size of our school and the number of students we have, that we are one of the top fundraisers with the Mathathon across the country.”
Mathathon is a three-week process, she said, starting with a kickoff assembly to “reintroduce and reacquaint students with St. Jude and why it is important.” Students then secure pledges for completion of 250 math problems, do the work, then collect the donations.
“The students really get excited because it enables them to help other children,” Diefendorf said.
Fourth-grader Eddie Withers said he likes the challenge of working the problems, and that his family sponsors him each year. He also makes a pledge from his allowance money.
Drennen Sampson, also a fourth-grader, said Mathathon “is really helpful to children. ... It is heart-touching that they don’t have to pay” for medical care at St. Jude.
“We talk about loving your neighbor, even those you don’t see,” Diefendorf said. “Well, this gives them a concrete example of how you can help others that you may never meet. I thought it was a great way for us to put our faith into action.”
That faith is what Catholic Schools Week is all about.
“The week is designed and created nationally to help folks know Catholic schools exist in the community and that we’re working hard to be a positive life force within the community, not just a little entity in and of ourselves,” Register said. “We are a church-based organization that hopes to positively impact the community as a whole.”
Among Register’s favorite elements are the blood drive, talent show and the all-school Mass on Friday where the alumnus and teacher of the year are named. And with Spirit Week happening the same week, and the homecoming basketball game against Northwest landing on Thursday, Register is hopeful that Gremlin alumni will be able to make it back to their alma mater.
“The spirit, morale and energy level in the school will be very high,” he said.
SACRED HEART CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK
• 10 a.m.: Mass at Sacred Heart Church
• 1 p.m.: Knights of Columbus Free-Throw Contest, open to boys and girls ages 10 to 14 from area schools, at Sacred Heart School gymnasium
• 8:45 a.m.: All-school opening prayer service. Students will be collecting and bringing cans of soup for the “Souper Bowl,” sponsored by the Pettis County Ministerial Alliance.
• 1 to 5 p.m.: Science classes will host a blood drive. Interested donors may email email@example.com.
• All day: St. Jude’s Mathathon begins and will continue through the week.
• 10:35 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.: Family and Friends are invited to have a school lunch with K-5 students K-5. Grades 4, 5: 10:35 to 11 a.m.; Grades 2, 3: 11:10 to 11:35 a.m.; Grades K-1: 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. Menu will be chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, hot roll and dessert.
• Sacred Heart students entertain at several nursing homes.
• 8 a.m.: Active Parents Club will be providing juice and donuts for all students.
• 12:15 p.m.: All-school talent show
• 2:15 p.m.: Active Parents Club will provide a luncheon for faculty and staff. Pep rally for homecoming/Red and White Day.
• 1:30 p.m.: All-school Mass with awards for the teacher and alumnus of the year, Sacred Heart Church.
• 4 p.m.: Mass at St. Patrick’s Church