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Local students celebrate Catholic Schools Week

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 9, 2016

 Students from every grade level at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Grosse Pointe Woods wrote notes to homeless people. The notes of encouragement and hope were placed inside lunch bags.

Students from every grade level at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Grosse Pointe Woods wrote notes to homeless people. The notes of encouragement and hope were placed inside lunch bags.

Photo by John McTaggart

A penny challenge fundraiser for Shoes for Orphans, a performance by the De LaSalle High School band, Pajama Day, and a breakfast for the teachers were among the many events that highlighted Catholic Schools Week at Our Lady Star of the Sea last week.

Catholic Schools Week is held every year, and was recognized nationally Jan. 31 through Feb. 5 this year. Catholic Schools Week gives students and staff at Catholic schools the opportunity to highlight their schools through a variety of events.

“It kind of shows us what it’s all about,” eighth-grader Adam Suarez said. “It shows what our school has, and it kind of shows what we are as a Star family. The teachers are really welcoming and support all the students.”

The week at Our Lady Star of the Sea wrapped up Feb. 5 when the school’s seventh- and eighth-grade students made approximately 1,200 peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunches inside the cafeteria for the local International Brown Bag Lunches of Love organization.

The lunches — which also included a granola bar, a juice box and a napkin — were to be distributed last weekend to various homeless shelters for those in need, including families and military veterans. Students also wrote notes of encouragement to include in each lunch, which said, “God bless you,” “You are in my prayers,” and “I’m praying for u.”

Many staff members assisted with packing lunches, as did family members of the students who were at the school for “Special Persons Day.” Principal Julie Aemisegger said families from preschool through eighth grade donated bread and other items to make the lunches. The spirit of the activity was contagious.

“I like it because you know you’re helping people that need this,” seventh-grader Jennifer Crowley said.

“I think (the homeless) are going to be very glad people care about them and that kids took time out of their school day to do this,” seventh-grader Aidan McFarlane said.

“They’re going to be happy and blessed knowing someone is caring about them in the world,” eighth-grade student Isabella Welker echoed.

Eighth-grade teacher Roberta Henrichs coordinated the activity. 

“It’s really our whole school community that provided this. I’m so impressed and so grateful to God that we’re able to do this,” she said. “This is our third year doing it.”

The International Brown Bag Lunches of Love organization was founded by Diane Soulliere several years ago when her son was a student at St. Paul on the Lake in Grosse Pointe Farms.

The students had to complete community service hours for Confirmation, and the idea of packing lunches for the needy was born. Diane McKee is Soulliere’s assistant. To date, International Brown Bag Lunches of Love locally has provided 34,200 lunches for others. The organization always welcomes volunteers to donate supplies or make lunches. Dates of upcoming event packing days are listed on the group’s Facebook page, titled “International Brown Bag Lunches of Love.”

Once the lunches are packed, Soulliere and volunteers drop them off at various charitable organizations in the metro area, including Turning Point in Mount Clemens, Salvation Army sites and the Detroit Rescue Mission. Sometimes groups drive around the city of Detroit on their own too and distribute the lunches to homeless people.

“They are always grateful,”  Soulliere said.

Catholic Schools Week activities also were held at St. Paul on the Lake last week. According to the school’s Facebook page, the tradition kicked off the morning of Jan. 30 when a group of students, parishioners, Scouts and friends made 500 bagged lunches. Their efforts supported the mission of 13-year-old Robbie Eimers, who began his own street ministry five years ago, the Facebook post stated. The lunches were to be distributed to those in need. Other St. Paul activities included an open house, making cards for military veterans, and a day to wear “crazy” socks.

Activities also marked Catholic Schools Week at St. Clare of Montefalco in Grosse Pointe Park. According to the church website, there was an open house, a “blessing of the throats” Mass on Feb. 3, a teacher’s appreciation luncheon  on Feb. 5, and many projects and celebrations in the classrooms.