Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Laudato Si St Bernard 1224 600x640Art teacher Ted Furey shares nature-themed paintings by the students at St. Bernard School in Enfield. (Photo by Shelley Wolf)St. Bernard School in Enfield has tackled Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si”  challenge wholeheartedly.

In his second encyclical, Pope Francis called on all people to better care for the planet they share.

St. Bernard named two faculty team captains, who said they called upon their experiences as Girl Scout leaders to help come up with some ideas for meeting the challenges outlined in the encylicial.

“There was no stress involved. With input from the students, our ideas came together easily,” said Grout.  “It was a really fun and worthwhile project.”

In addition to school-wide projects, classes participated in related activities with each teacher this school year. Karen Carrigan’s first-grade class recently released butterflies that they raised. Stephanie Staubles’ second graders recycled trash into works of art. Brooke Landry’s junior-high students made imaginative “litter critters” from litter they collected in their neighborhoods and local parks, under their parents’ supervision.

The third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classes went on a field trip in March to Northwest Park in Windsor, where they visited the nature center and observed a maple sugaring operation.

In addition to these and other classroom activities, the school undertook the following four challenges:

Daily actions to care for our common home.

Several teachers have incorporated planting activities into their science lessons over the years. In response to teachers’ desire  to have protected garden areas in the school’s outdoor courtyard, alumnus Peter Landry is installing raised keyhole garden beds with composting capabilities. They will be used by the teachers during the school year, and by the school’s summer camp program during July and August.

Cultivate creation and spark the sense of awe.

Realizing that the students’ relationship with nature is important, the teachers have increased their dedication to environmental education. They expressed a desire for a shaded outdoor area in which to  teach their lessons occasionally.  Eighth grader Katelyn Birdsey added benches to an existing outdoor pavilion constructed several years ago by alumnus Nick Marshall. The school raised funds for the renovation and work on the outdoor classroom will be completed in the coming weeks.

Be part of the human family.

The school has held food drives for the local community for years. To expand their focus and learn how to feed those in our global community, the eighth graders researched several options, settling upon Heifer International, which provides livestock to poor families around the world, giving them access to food and an income for years to come.The school raised funds at Christmastime through the sale of candygrams. With the proceeds, the school purchased two goats and a flock of birds and contributed toward the purchase of a pig and a sheep.

Communicating beauty in God’s creation.

Art teacher Ted Furey has helped students experience the beauty in nature through artwork. Students’ drawings were on display during an open house and curriculum fair held in April.

A team from the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Social Justice Ministry and the Office of Education, Evangelization and Catechesis visited St. Bernard on May 8 to tour the school and get an overview of students’ projects. Michael Griffin, superintendent of schools, presented a plaque to principal Charlene Mongillo for the “faithful integration of the teachings of Laudato Si’” into the curriculum and for the “successful completion of the Laudado Si’  challenge sponsored by the two archdiocesan offices.

“This project was a very humbling experience for me as a principal,” said Mongillo.  “I watched Mrs. Lavoie and Mrs.Grout help our students focus on the different challenges. Then, it was our very own students and alumni who stepped up to make our school and community a better place.”