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School Bells Are Ringing
by Aristea Zekios

Church School classes resumed on September 12th. Registration was the two Sundays prior to that date. It's a busy time for the coordinator who is superviseing registration, schedule teachers' meetings, order materials, and plan a ten-month educational program. The teachers have prepared their classrooms and returning to the routine of preparing weekly lessons.

Before the 1999-2000 school year gets underway, let us take a look at last year's curriculum. To assist you in this overview, our staff submitted a recap of their course of study. In addition, some of our students submitted their input on what they learned.

Pre-School
Teacher: Mrs. Pat Harrison

The pre-schooler is a concrete thinker who understands simple, concrete words. Therefore to expose the child to the message of Christ and his Church, we focused on what we see in church. We learned about Jesus, Mary, Jesus' 12 'helpers', and Saint Luke. Then we learned about the objects we see in church like cup (chalice), God's food (Holy Communion), icons, and candles. Since the child at this age is also a sensory learner, our "hands on" activities included how to bless ourselves, receive Holy Communion and venerate an icon. We learned songs, participated in playtime, and even learned the names of our clergy. For better insight into our lessons, please visit our classroom in the mobile unit to see the display.

This group is always a joy to teach. They are eager to learn and play. It is nice to watch them grow during the school year. One of my goals is to make their first steps in a Church community a happy experience. Perhaps it is a way returning some of the happiness they bring me! My hope is that the weekly attendance will improve next year.

Since pre-schoolers are unable to write, they were asked to draw something they see in church. Their little eyes certainly behold the things we take for granted. See if you can guess what their pictures represent.

Grades 1 & 2
Teachers: Mrs. Jeanne Bern and Mrs. Pat Ketchmark

Students at this age are delightful to teach. They enjoy singing along at the Divine Liturgy, they look forward to fuller participation in church services, and they comprehend the incredible sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our salvation.

This year's curriculum focused on the Divine Liturgy, the Sacraments, God's love for each of us, our Lenten journey, and preparation for First Confession. Along with the weekly lesson, students learned prayers and how to pray, heard Bible stories, and colored worksheets.

One activity that was particularly exciting to the class was the celebration of the Sunday of Orthodoxy. Pat used her artistic talent to prepare pieces of wood for the students to stain. Each child then chose an icon print to glue and lacquer on the wood. After several layers of lacquer, these icons were blessed and carried in our church procession. The children are always proud of their work and pleased to be a part of such a special day.

Valerie Quinn - Grade 1

I think that Confession is important because you are asking God for forgiveness for your sins. I also think it is important because it is one of the Holy Sacraments.

To get ready for Confession you need to go to First Confession Class. I made my first Confession a little early so I got to help the other kids in my class get ready for theirs. Before you to Confession you have to think carefully about what you want to ask God for forgiveness.

You should go to Confession when you feel like you did something wrong. If you don't go every week, that's O.K. as long as you are fine some weeks.

Theresa Werbiansky - Grade 1

We go to Confession because it helps us to be closer to God. Confession is like being re-baptized. When you go to confession, you are relieved of your sins. That is why we go to confession and why it is also very important.

Grades 3 & 4
Teacher: Mrs. Mary Ellen Seper

Our 3rd & 4th grade classes started out the school year discussing God's community focusing on the Sacraments. We've learned that by being a part of God's community it is very important to pray, worship, forgive, consider others' feelings, and do good words. We ended the year with a discussion on where we can meet the Lord. The children were also required to describe the Church and various items used in Church during the Divine Liturgy.

Karen Seper - Grade 3

How do people know who we are? We are known by our names. Your name tells you who you are. They know us by what we do. Young children caring for older people is one way. They know us by what we believe. By believing in God they know you are religious. They know us by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to make a choice.

Grades 5 & 6
Teacher: Mrs. Mary Quinn

This year the fifth and sixth grade students focused on the sacraments. The textbook "Our Life in the Church", placed special emphasis on Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Communion, and Confession. One favorite unit explained how early Christians were accepted into the Church. We studied the parts of the Liturgy in detail, and looked up the Bible passages from where our Liturgy was taken. To make it easier and faster to look up passages, the students worked on memorizing the names of the books of the Bible. I was delighted and amazed at the insight into their faith as well as their openness to God's Word.

Kristen Bern - Grade 5

An Orthodox Christian - People can tell you're a Christian by seeing you help other people. You can show your faith by saying you're sorry and by sharing. Even though you might not want to play something that your friend wants to play, you do it because you are a Christian. It is important to read from the Bible, to attend Church, and to pray every day. Invite your friends to Church and let them meet other Orthodox Christians.

Matt Quinn - Grade 5

My Favorite Family Worship Activity - One of my favorite activities is the prayer before meals. I usually lead the prayer before dinner. Sometimes when I'm really hungry, my prayers are short. It doesn't mean I'm any less thankful, just hungrier. The idea behind praying before meals is that all good things come from God. Sometimes I remember to pray when no one else does. In addition to thanking God for our food and family, we remember anyone with special needs. I also have another favorite activity. At night my mom will read the Bible out loud. Usually we read in order. Sometimes we flip through and when we find something interesting, she reads it. I think reading the Bible at night is good because when you go to sleep, it gives everything a chance to sink in.

Katherine Bern - Grade 6

Family Worship - Like many other American families, our family is busy with school, music, dance, art, and sports activities. My father works full time and my mother works part time; therefore, my family sets aside time at night to say devotions. We pray for our relatives, for the people on the prayer list, for our neighbors, and for anyone who needs our prayers. We also pray prayers we learned in Church or in Sunday School. This time of day helps us to set aside our activities and think of our Savior.

Andrew Seper - Grade 5

My favorite family worship activity is during Great Lent. I like to go to church for the special services. The church is decorated very nicely for Pascha. The choir sings special songs and my whole family is there. After services, we get to eat a big meal. I also enjoy the egg hunt tradition.

Katherine Werbiansky - Grade 6

Only Orthodox Christians are allowed to receive Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church. The reason for this is because Orthodox Christians believe that the Eucharist is the real body and blood of Christ. Other Christians, such as Protestants, believe that communion is just a symbol of Christ. In order to receive Holy Communion from an Orthodox Church, you must have the same faith and beliefs as an Orthodox Christian. This same reason also goes for Catholic Churches and probably other religions too. That is why non-Orthodox Christians cannot receive the Orthodox Church's Holy Communion.

Junior High
Teacher: Mrs. Aristea Zekios

The past school year, we studied the Book of the Acts of the Holy Apostles. The students were taken on a journey that started with the Ascension of our Lord. Next we reviewed Pentecost and our personal Pentecost of Chrismation. The stoning of Saint Stephen Protomartyr left us in awe of the faith of such this brave young deacon. We examined the life of the Early Church and its continuation into our life in the Holy Orthodox Church today. Finally we embarked on Paul's heroic missionary journeys. We followed Paul's footsteps from his conversion to martyrdom.

The Book of Acts is truly an exciting book filled with the dynamic stories of the first century Church. That is why it is one of my favorite levels to teach. Saint Paul is a role model for all Christians. He never relented in spite of stoning, persecution, and threats to his life. Today we may not be persecuted overtly like Saint Paul, but we are called to witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ just as he did. It is my prayer that all my students will proclaim this message of life throughout their lives.

Joseph Bauml - Grade 8

Saint Paul inspired countless people in many different ways. He inspired me with his teaching of Christ even though he was often threatened. Even his former friends plotted to kill him. This inspired me because he gave up everything including his friendship with others just to spread the word of God. Another way he inspired me was his conversion to Christianity. He started out to persecute Christians and yet he became a Christian Saint. This just shows that no matter how far off you are from God, you can always veer back on course.

His change from Saul to Saint Paul was fascinating to me. Saint Paul was humbled by God when He spoke to him. He experienced awe and humility when he saw the Light of God. God made clear what Saul's vocation was. It was to teach the glory of God to Jews and Gentiles alike. The reason I find this so interesting is that Saul thought he was supposed to stop Christianity when he was really called to spread it. It just shows that no matter what you may think about what you are here for, God may have other plans for you.

Jason Ketchmark - Grade 7

One of the most fascinating episodes in the life of Saint Paul was his missionary journeys. He traveled to many places to teach the word of God. Paul took a total of four journeys, traveling to many of the same places more than once.

During some of Paul's journeys he was disliked by the people that lived in the places he traveled to. In one of the other places he traveled to he was arrested, but escaped by the power of God! He was much liked by the people in other places he traveled to. Paul performed many good miracles in these places.

After his last journey, Paul was killed by people who hated him. He led an interesting life and his journeys were probably the most fascinating part of his life.

David Cummings - Grade 8

The most interesting thing about Saint Paul was the fact that he was not one of the original Apostles. Saint Paul never learned about Jesus in the seminary! In Jerusalem he heard about Christians. At that time there were 3,000 Christians. Some of the Jews hated the Christians. Saint Paul sent many Christians to prison. He was also involved in the stoning of Saint Stephen. Afterwards he was blinded by a vision. The vision told him to see Ananias and be baptized. Later in his life Saint Paul was beheaded.

High School
Teacher: Father Deacon Andrew Werbiansky

After studying the doctrine of the Orthodox Church last school term, this year high school students chose their own topics. There was much discussion of current events and teenage social situations. These topics dealt with the teachings and beliefs of the Orthodox Church. One recent discussion centered on the shooting in Littleton, Colorado. Other areas of discussion have included, but are not limited to, teenage pregnancy and premarital sex, the value of chastity, the evil of abortion, charity and family relations.

Lauren Dandeles - Grade 10

Christianity in a Secular Society - First Columbine, then Atlanta, and Rogers Park; it seems as if society is becoming more violent and intolerant of those who are of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. Given the events of this past year, it would be easy as a student in a public high school that has a diverse population to become fearful of those who are different - to avoid contact with people not quite like me. As a member of Saint Luke's, a small Orthodox congregation, where everyone cares about others as if they were family and of course, where Christian values are cherished, "fear of others" is never an issue.

As a student in a public high school I have seldom felt that my peers were a threat. Although it is impossible to have contact with all the students attending my school, the majority of teenagers with whom I come in contact are good people who just want to be accepted. One aspect of being a good Christian is reaching out to others. When you take the time to get to know new students, learn about different ethnic traditions and religious practices, you can expand your knowledge of the world.

Courtney Bern - Grade 10

Our Church as a Sanctuary - A few weeks ago, our country was racked with the shattering news of the school slaying at Columbine High School. As one of the killers entered a classroom, he asked if anyone there were a Christian. One brave girl stood up and stated that she was. He immediately killed her. This kind of secular persecution is the latest in what seems to be a growing occurrence in school-related shootings that have crossed our country in the past few years.

My two younger sisters and I are home-schooled by my mother, so I am not faced with the daily lack of Christian guidance in the public schools. However, when I attend classes at Moraine Valley Community College, Salt Creek Ballet, or other places, I am in the presence of both Christians and non-Christians. I am often confronted with a lack of morals in the actions and conversation of the people around me. It is especially hard when many of these people are my friends. One reason my parents chose to home-school me was that they could mold my character with strong Christian views. Yet, they cannot always be there when I am out in the world; they trust that I will not succumb to peer pressure. This is why I like being in the presence of my peers at Saint Luke who share the same beliefs and values that I have. In an increasing non-Christian world, I like having friends that I can talk to openly about my faith and who will have empathy and support for me.

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