January 25, 2019

Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Students learn to share their greatest gift in honors program

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton students Gwynie Falcone, left, Jackie Clemente, Addi Guiley and Allison Hamilton deliver fruit baskets to senior citizens at a nearby apartment complex in Richmond before Christmas. (Submitted photo)

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton students Gwynie Falcone, left, Jackie Clemente, Addi Guiley and Allison Hamilton deliver fruit baskets to senior citizens at a nearby apartment complex in Richmond before Christmas. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

During Catholic Schools Week, sixth-grade students at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School in Richmond will collect diapers, baby wipes and formula to help struggling pregnant women.

This effort follows their Christmas outreach to bring fruit baskets to senior citizens at a nearby apartment complex—a visit where they talked and sang carols with the residents.

Then there are the after-school sessions where the sixth-graders—the oldest students in their school—regularly help younger children prepare for tests, do their homework or just spend time reading together.

It’s all part of the school’s National Elementary Honor Society program, an initiative that uses the faith‑based principle of caring for others to build leadership, character and lifelong service.

“We get to learn about being nice to people and helping them,” says 11-year-old Kelsey Brim.

Abby Davis enjoyed participating in a march and a fundraiser to help the pregnant women.

“It was kind of cool to be there with teachers and students, to see all the people volunteering,” Abby says.

Their friend and classmate Jackie Clemente adds, “It’s really an honor to be in the society. It means you have this gift and this talent, and you can share it with others. It means a lot to me, and it helps the other students become better students as well.

“I was tutoring this one girl, and after we were done, she hugged me and said, ‘Thank you! You’ve been so helpful.’ She was in the third grade. That let me know I was sharing my gifts.”

That’s the primary goal of the honor society’s approach, says its advisor.

“They’re in charge. I let them take the lead,” says Mary Leverton, the school’s fifth-grade teacher. “They’ve really shined. They’re doing things they’ve never done before in offering their abilities and their gifts to help others.” †

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