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
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.