During Catholic Schools Week, St. Ignatius students participated in the 2nd Annual Student Service Day 2020. Every child and staff member in the building learned about an organization, then created an item to be shared at that non-profit. “The energy in the building during this time was amazing, and it was truly inspirational to see and hear all the students and staff focused on caring for others, as Jesus missioned us to do,” said Linda McGowan, sixth and seventh grade language arts teacher, and Service Day planning team leader. 

Students in Kindergarten and sixth grade worked together and learned about Bayley Place and Little Sisters of the Poor nursing homes, and made paper heart door wreaths for the residents. First and eighth graders teamed up and made decorative tissue boxes to be shared with the Sisters of Mercy Convent. Students in second and seventh grade worked together and made fleece scarves to be shared with patients and families that attend the Crossroads Health Center and patients who are receiving dialysis. 

Our third graders created a beautiful collection of placemats and bookmarks for the seminarians. A few St. Ignatius parishioners visited the Pre-K and fourth grade classrooms to share what they gain from coming to daily Mass. After the presentations, students made bookmarks to be handed out to parishioners who attend Mass each day expressing our gratitude. Finally, fifth grade decorated brown paper bags and then made lunches for the homeless of Cincinnati that seek shelter at City Gospel Mission

Service and Outreach Committee members included Sarah Borchers, pre-K teacher; Carol Ruberg, second grade school aide; Gina Reynolds, instructional specialist; Valerie Bender, Theology of the Body/Virtues educator for grades K-5; Tricia Vondenbrink, first grade teacher; Jenny Dermody, Occupational Therapist; Lisa Cassaro, second grade teacher; Patty Thomas, school assistant; Vickie Geckle, Theology of the Body/Virtues educator for grades 6-8; Julie Beck, third and sixth-eighth grade school aide; Linda McGowan, seventh and eighth grade language arts teacher; and Patty Hericks, sixth-eighth grade intervention specialist. 

Said Mrs. Beck, “I helped with third grade who made bookmarks and placemats for the seminarians.  When we were selecting organizations to help, we wanted ones that the students could relate to or ones that they may have heard of already.  I knew that Vickie Geckle is taking classes at the seminary and it struck me that with the recent increase in the number of seminarians that it would be a good outreach project for our students.  From there it was easy to come up with the idea of making bookmarks and placemats for them. Before beginning the project, the students watched a video from the Athenaeum called “A Day in the Life of the Athenaeum.”  They loved seeing our pastor, Fr. Earl Fernandes, in the video as well as learn what the men do during a typical day. The children were surprised to see that they are students just like they are and that they did things like eat meals together and play basketball. They enjoyed creating things for the seminarians and took pride in their work. I loved that we could bring the topic of vocations into the classroom so these young people are open to the idea of answering a call to the priesthood or the religious life.” 

“I enjoyed seeing younger and older students partnered with their buddies excited to work together to make something for others while learning about the needs of those benefiting from their service,” said Miss Cassaro. This story reminds us of Cultivating Community, a core value of St. Ignatius Loyola School. The school engages students and their families in a dynamic experience. The students enter the school as individuals, but soon become an integral part of the school, the Catholic Church, and the larger community. Students develop a sense of responsibility to strengthen these communities through volunteerism, good citizenship, and outward love for Jesus Christ. 

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