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Photo: Paul Morey

Enjoying the ND-IC school field day, Andrew Morey of Easthampton, Mass., was one of the fourth graders who performed weekly deeds of mercy.

These Children Have a 'Field Day' with Mercy

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By Terry Peloquin (Jun 26, 2007)
Do you know how to play musical chairs? I thought I did. But I just learned how children from Catholic school play the game.

"ND-IC" (Notre-Dame/Immaculate Conception School) of Easthampton, Mass., held a field day at a local park for students closing the school year. In the musical chairs competition, the music played, and abruptly stopped. Students raced to chairs. One youngster was left standing. He's out of the game, right? Instead, one of the other kids said, "Aww — you don't have a chair? You can have mine."

Huh? Don't they know what the game is about? You jostle and push to win, and someone else loses. Right? Why would children act like this instead?

These kids know that they are winners when they show mercy. They learned this lesson daily from teachers and staff at NDIC School.

One class in particular took the message of Divine Mercy to heart. The fourth grade, led by Ms. Holland, had the assignment to perform two random deeds of kindness each week. The students would record these activities on postcards of their own design. The cards were then displayed to encourage others to perform acts of kindness for their neighbor out of love for the Lord.

The fourth graders also wrote letters to the Amish families who suffered the tragic loss of their children in a school shooting last fall. The kids wrote that they were praying for them and for the family of the man who hurt the students in their community. When another teacher visited the fourth grade class, the students read some of their letters to her. She was moved to tears.

Some of their deeds were holding open a door or picking up something that someone dropped. Small things. Easy things. But their eyes were opened to looking out for others.

Once, a classmate was coming down with a cold and his mother was called to pick him up. (I was the mom.) When I got to the school, the teacher said, "I have to tell you. When the students found out Kyle was sick, they all huddled together to see what they could do." The teacher then called over one of the little girls to meet me. "They figured that he should keep hydrated. So, Madison gave him her bottle of tea."

These are 9 year olds.

I was impressed at the group for considering a plan of action, and especially at Madison for her generosity. I shook her hand and told her how grateful to her I was, and that I'd be sure to tell her parents they should be very proud of her.

The Marians of the Immaculate Conception were also impressed with these students. They donated red and white wristbands that say "Jesus, I trust in You" and "Divine Mercy" to encourage these children.

The children wrote thank-you notes in return. Oh — more than that. They designed thank you cards and drew them on computer and by hand.

On the night before the last day of school, students from all grades put on a talent show. Some children sang solo, played a song on a violin or keyboard, performed Irish step dancing, magic tricks, and a yo-yo routine.

It wasn't Carnegie Hall quality. We were in the church parking lot, and students sat on the ground before a wood-slatted stage. The parents were on the grass on lawnchairs. But there was not a sound from the audience during these presentations.

How could these children have the poise to perform in front of the entire school staff, student body, and all their families?

They knew from their education that they would be treated with respect and support. They knew they were valued and loved by everyone there.

NDIC School honored its children, and it honored our Lord through them.

The last day of school this year, sadly, was literally just that. In April, dozens of us parents had tearfully informed the pastors of NDIC that the rising tuition was beyond our reach. The School Board and pastors recommended to the Diocese of Springfield that the school close. Its final school Mass was Tuesday, June 19.

Many of these beautiful students will be traveling several miles away to attend Mater Dolorosa or Blessed Sacrament in Holyoke, Mass. I feel bad for us families, and for all the students hopping from one school to another like a game of musical chairs.

But it will be OK. They know how to play the game.

Terry Peloquin is web designer/editor for thedivinemercy.org.

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Patrick - Jun 26, 2007

Your story moved ME to tears! God bless you, your childen and the good educators of NDIC!

Kathleen - Jun 26, 2007

Really liked the line, "...But their eyes were opened to looking out for others." Maybe we all need a little nudge to remember to be nice, kind, and merciful to each other. Even children know, practice makes perfect.

Thanks Terry for sharing your family with us.

Paul Morey - Jun 26, 2007

Terry, you are truly a gifted writer. I could not have summed up NDIC school any better. Pardon me now while I find the Kleenex.

donna .e. - Jun 26, 2007

We should pray for our Catholic School Boards. We are so truly, truly blessed by the good Lord to have our faith filled, faith injected school system. Our children are so much wiser spiritually for it as are we as good parents and guides when we blend both Catholic Education and take our kids to Holy Mass each week they have much more hope for becoming well balanced and holy than just a regular school who teaches nothing about our Lord and his Laws.

Kathy - Jun 26, 2007

It's no wonder we loved this school so much.

Lynn Korza - Jun 26, 2007

Terry,
Amazing how our connections...ripple through God's planet...I'm sitting here at work (Mont Marie--Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph) and am remarkably touched not only on how well this story (our NDIC family story) was presented, but how history has come full circle as I have passed this story on to a few of the Sisters here who had devoted their lives to IC for so many years. I'm sure they will appreciate the extent of the 'ripple effect' and how their mission has been fulfilled....Thank you for writing this story!

Laura - Jun 26, 2007

Terry -
Your article captures the true spirit of what NDIC School was all about! Thank you for writing it!

Beth Dietz - Jun 26, 2007

Terry,

How eloquently you have described the incredible school community I was privileged to be a part of for five years. I do not believe my daughter could have had a better experience anywhere. The staff and all of the wonderful dedicated volunteers taught our children so much more than what books have to offer. It is just a shame that on the heals of our demise, the Diocese was meeting to develop a plan to avoid Catholic school closings. I only wish that we could have been included. I was witness to the musical chairs event at field day. I can only say that I was glad I had my sunglasses on so the tears were not evident to the children who were having the time of their lives.

Joanie Callini - Jun 26, 2007

I am so blessed to have been a part of the NDIC family both personally and professionally. I am so thankful to all the many families who chose NDIC as the place to be and allowed their childre to touch my life in so many ways. May the new roads everyone chose for their children be happy ones.

cindy benoit - Jun 26, 2007

I don't know any other school that would teach and encourage our kids to be mindful of each others feelings. That is one of the reasons that I was greatful to have found such a wonderful school for my children to attend. I just wish that they could have all graduated from NDIC. Thank you for you lovely article.

Robbie - Jun 27, 2007

THATS WHAT NDIC WAS ALL ABOUT!!! Im gonna miss that school sooo much.


Robbie Kowal

Destiny - Jun 28, 2007

This story makes me cry. I loved NDIC I will always remember it. My class and I cared about it and tried to save it.

Cindy L (aka Mom) - Jun 29, 2007

This was my home, my family. We have been so very blessed to be a part of this magnificent school! I have had soooo much love, memories, and laughter having worked there with all these awesome kids! They are truly amazing. I love them all from the depths of my heart FOREVER! I hope they always remember that.
As for the closing of the school, the building is empty. But the spirit of what it was all about lives on forever. My kids will make sure of that!!!

matt cabral - Oct 3, 2007

ndic is the place to be!!!!!!!
im gonna miss you ndic and all of your students and teachers. thanks for the memories and fun times. :( bye

Cortney Hanrahan - Apr 6, 2008

Awesome article. Thanks so much for writing it; NDIC was a great school and it is much missed. I remember getting up every morning..excited to go to school.
We love NDIC
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