All Saints Day was extra special at St. Patrick School in Carlisle this year, as the school had the honor of hosting Bishop Ronald Gainer for a visit.
The bishop kicked off the day with an 8:30 a.m. Mass and then spent the rest of the morning visiting with students and sharing lunch. The bishop was treated to books made by each class and filled with examples of how they let their light shine, inspired by this year’s school theme: “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16).
Principal Antoinette Oliverio said the bishop’s visit is yet another thrilling milestone in her first year leading the school. Oliverio, who was a middle school Language Arts teacher at St. Patrick for 12 years, became principal in July following the retirement of Ricman Fly.
“I am excited to be a part of a community where both education and Christ are valued and cherished,” Oliverio said. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I can share my passion in life, learning with Christ, to our future generation. In a time where is there a lot of uncertainty and confusion, finding our true purpose is exhilarating.”
Fifth grader Gabriella Gleed was excited to have the bishop visit her school, and said she loves everything about it, from the teachers to the classrooms to the students.
“I really like all the teachers. The teachers are really nice,” said Gabriella, who’s been a student there since preK. She also enjoys the age range of the preK-8 grade school and all the activities those different ages share. For example, classes are paired up with “prayer partners” who sit together at Mass, share social activities, make crafts and just look out for each other around school. Gabriella’s class is prayer partners with the preK students.
Another cross-class experience that allows St. Patrick students to lead and learn from one another is the Peer Mediation program. Starting in 4th grade, students who are nominated by teachers are trained in conflict resolution and help out when the younger grades are at recess.
Gabriella, who also participates in basketball, soccer and Girl Scouts, said she counts Peer Mediation as among the most special aspects of the school. She said even if the problems don’t get much bigger than helping solve “who gets to be the princess,” she likes helping out the younger grades.
Eighth grader Lorraine Durbin has been at St. Patrick since preK as well. Lorraine really likes the teachers at St. Patrick and said she feels comfortable that they have her best interest at heart.
“They always make sure the students are OK,” she said. “They always make sure we’re happy,”
Lorraine also is active in peer mediation, drama, volleyball and Quiz Bowl. Her grade is prayer partners with the 2nd grade, and she said she loves spending time with the younger children.
“We can relate to the little kids because we were them,” she said. “We are good friends with our prayer partners.”
Second grade teacher Lisa Farley thinks the bishop could not have chosen a better place to celebrate All Saints Day. Farley is in her second year at St. Patrick School and feels like she’s found a home there, with a supportive community of teachers, administrators and parents.
“I feel like parents and teachers are truly partners in their children’s academic and spiritual education,” she said.
Like any good teacher, Farley said her favorite part of the job is the students. She said they love to learn and have a great work ethic.
“The children love to learn, but they also love each other,” she said. “It is uplifting to be around such loving, compassionate and helpful children. They embrace new students and make them feel welcome in the St. Pat’s family.”
“After searching for several years to find the right position for me, I feel completely at home at St. Pat’s, and I would not want to work anywhere else,” Farley said.
St. Patrick School opened in 1947 and is celebrating its 70th anniversary all year. Oliverio said the school continues to strive to serve its students and the community.
“Our students know our expectations: to be the best version of themselves and to give back to society. This year celebrates our 70th year, and we are overjoyed to rejoice and share our goodness with the community.”
(Lisa Maddux is the Development Director at St. Patrick School in Carlisle.)
By Lisa Maddux, Special to The Witness