A marathon of a different sort

Colette Argiro (6th grade), middle school teacher Audrey Moorhouse, and Annie Kiolbasa (6th grade) bagged up leaves during their Rake a Difference Day service project as part of their marathon of service. (Gazette photo by Avery Cropp)
Kindergarten through second grade students performed songs for residents of a nursing home on Monday Oct. 21. (photo courtesy of St. Croix Catholic)

Students at St. Croix Catholic school wrapped up a marathon of a different sort this week, a service marathon that culminated in group service projects throughout the week.

Third and fourth graders cleaned debris in St. Michael’s Cemetery on Thurs. Oct. 24. (photo courtesy of St. Croix Catholic)

“The school’s been in existence for about 160 years, and we’ve always had marathons since a lot of people can remember,” St. Croix Catholic School Development Director Camille Kiolbasa said. “We used to have the kids walk, but now we have them do 26 acts of service to simulate a marathon.”

The nearly 350 students ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade at the school did 25 acts of service since school started. The even culminated in final large-group projects throughout the past week in Stillwater and Bayport.

Students in kindergarten through second grade entertained residents of a local nursing home with musical selections Monday, Oct. 21, while students in third and fourth grade cleaned up St. Michael’s cemetery Tuesday, Oct. 22, and 180 fifth- through eighth-grade students raked several yards on Thursday Oct. 24 as part of Rake a Difference Day.

“We’ve had some really cool projects come out of this year’s marathon event,” Kiolbasa said. “Some students hand-made hats for the homeless, while others visited the elderly. They did a wide-range of things throughout the event.”

Some of the fifth- through eighth-graders involved in Thursday’s event said their service projects included helping out at their grandparents home, doing household chores and raking their family’s yards.

“It makes me joyful because I get to help people in need,” seventh-grader Nick Seeman said. “Helping people out that can’t do things that I can is really fun.”

Students have also reaped rewards for their service. Friends, neighbors and supporters of the school are invited throughout the month to make donations to the school in honor of the students’ service. This year, the school’s fundraising goal was $75,000, with each student asked to raise $250. Due to the hard work of the students and the support of the local community, the school surpassed this goal and brought in more than $76,000 to support the school’s operating budget.

“We are so grateful to all the local residents and businesses of Stillwater who supported this year’s Service Marathon,” Principal Sister Mary Juliana Cox said. “Your support allows us to continue our mission of delivering a superior education that is intended to develop the whole child — mind, body, and spirit. This year, we witnessed some wonderful acts of service from the children including, building little lending libraries, hosting garage sales and donating all of their proceeds, preparing meals for needy neighbors, making warm hats for the homeless and visiting with the elderly at Boutwell’s. We are proud of our students. They are clearly leaders among their peers.”

In the end, students also learned to understand the concept of “paying it forward.”

“Sometimes when you do something good, people do something for you in return,” eighth-grader Kalley Tomek said. “Like today, they’ve set out some snacks for us after we’re done raking, which is really nice.”

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]