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This week saw our 3rd grade learners take on the serious task of text surgery. As seen in the photos below, they were guided by two very experienced Text Surgeons, Mrs. Turner and Mrs. O’Leary. Their activity, complete with surgical gear, included carefully extracting parts of text–headlines, glossaries, charts– identifying them and cataloging their findings in post-op reports.

While fun and off-the-charts creative, this classroom activity can also serve as a metaphor for the rest of us: Words can be used in so many ways and we would be wise to dispense them with surgical care. This is especially true in a time when we are feeling the lingering social and emotional impact of the now year-long pandemic.

Similarly, a front page feature in this week’s edition of The Catholic Virginian is entitled, “Pope: Smile, say kind words during Lent.” The article makes several references to Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship,” including the wish for Catholics to be “increasingly concerned ‘with speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation and encouragement, and not words that demean, sadden, anger or show scorn.'”

For those of us who have the privilege to walk the halls of Saint Mary’s this week, we might notice the Pontiff smiling in the direction of our Mighty Monarch students who were “crowned” for their virtuous words and actions in January. As we continue our Lenten journey together, might we all heed Pope Francis’ call to focus more on using kind words; especially since our kind smiles are still hidden behind our face masks!

In addition to paying attention to words, the season of Lent gives students a time to reflect on their actions so that they might be more in line with Gospel values and teachings. Nowhere is this opportunity more apparent than in the solemnity of the church sanctuary during a practice session for the 4 graders’ much-awaited performance of the Stations of the Cross.

While some students practice reading and cantoring as silhouetted students create images of each station, other students sit quietly working on their assignments and awaiting their turn to perform. The excitement is palpable, but the silent reverence and patience on display is something special to behold.

Perhaps students were on their best behavior because there was a camera recording their movements, but something tells me that the Holy Spirit was at work in their hearts for the duration of the morning practice! We know all spirits will delight in their performances for 4th grade parents and the church community next month on March 11 and March 25.

As our 25th week of school draws to a close, we are again grateful to celebrate another week together and to observe some familiar signs of spring and Easter on the horizon. Until then, stay kind, mighty Monarchs!

A link to recorded performances of the Stations of the Cross will be shared once available.