St. Joseph's Celebrates Service with Catholic Schools Week; Students and Teachers Worked on Projects Reflecting the Week's Theme of "Celebrating Service"

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Teacher Kirsten Gordon stirred a gruel-like mixture in a big plastic jar, surrounded by her 25 third-grade students in the St. Joseph's Catholic School courtyard.

Jan. 30 was the last day of Catholic Schools Week at the school, and all of the teachers were taking the same steps with the mushy concrete - literally.

As the school's new classroom wing rises nearby, the students made special stepping stones to add to one landscaped side of it. But before it could be decorated, Gordon had to smooth out the concrete before tracing on a bear with the word "loyalty" imprinted on its heart-shaped belly.

"With loyalty having to do with a heart, we chose a bear with a heart in the center," said Gordon. "Students will love seeing [the stepping stones]. They will say 'I put this or that piece in,' or 'Our class did that.'"

Student T.J. Hill said he likes knowing that the stepping stone he helped decorate with shiny glass beads will be visible outside his school.

"You get to do your own thing and put in pieces of glass into concrete that seals it on," the 9-year-old said. "I loved doing this."

"I will always see it when I walk by it," added classmate Margaret Gupton, 9. "[The bear] symbolizes loyalty and friendship."

The Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine includes 17 counties of Northeast and North Central Florida with 24 parish elementary schools, four diocesan high schools and one special education school. Each school participated in events to reflect this year's theme: Celebrating Service.

At St. Joseph's at 11600 Old St. Augustine Road, students collected 964 cans of food for Catholic Charities and donated $1,130 for a new computer for Divine Mercy House, the parish's home for single mothers. Kindergarten through fourth-grade students collected 477 teddy bears for the Kuddle-Bears program started 10 years ago by Pricella Andreason to give comfort to adults with cancer.

"I couldn't believe these children did that many. It was exciting," Andreason said. …


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