At graduation, a parent approached me to share a preschool memory from her graduating daughter. One day, the child came home and said, “Mom, did you know that all of God’s closest friends are statues?” I imagine that this was right near the end of the year as our last four prayer services take place outside, each by a different statue that surround our building.
Starting in April with our Earth Day prayer service, we carpet the child safe zone and the children gather in front of the statue of St. Francis in the garden. St. Francis is the patron saint of animals, so it is fitting that we gather to thank God for all his creations here. Learning about St. Francis and his care of God’s creations inspires us to do the same. Earth Day is a special day to remind us all no matter how small an action, it can make a difference in keeping our world beautiful.
In May, the Montessori Unit has the tradition of crowning the statue of Mary to the left of the main entrance. The children bring in flowers which are gathered in containers to decorate the area in front of the statue of Mary. The children and teachers process from the Sacred Heart Center singing our praise of Mary, Jesus’ mother. A special honor is given to a child in Kindergarten who has the name Mary, or a close derivative of her name. This child carries the crown and carefully climbs the ladder to place the crown on her head. The children pray the Hail Mary. In class, they learn about Mary and how she responded “yes” when asked if she would be the Mother of Jesus.
May 18th is the Feast Day of St. Raphaela Mary. On this day, we gather at the top of the child safe zone in front of the beautiful statue of St. Raphaela Mary raising her hand to the sky. The children learn about St. Raphaela Mary’s life and her importance to our school community. As foundress of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Raphaela Mary believed strongly in the importance of education. She showed a joy in her work and profession and a humility to always do what was best for her community. We look to her teachings to be an example of how to create community and to do God's will.
Our last day of school, we gather one last time in prayer to celebrate our year together. We celebrate at the statue of Jesus, who has shown His love for us and has asked that we all love one another. We celebrate our teachers and friends. We celebrate our growing and learning. We celebrate the seasons that have brought us now to our summer break. It is a wonderful closure to our year and the many times that all the children from SSM, PS, & K have come together in prayerful celebration.
The children walk and drive by these statues each day. Our services bring new meaning to these statues and the recognition that these are friends of God who have much to teach us by their example. We want our children to leave knowing that not all God’s friends are statues, but that we are the living friends of God who can continue to spread love to our world by the kind actions we take each day.
About the Author
32 years Montessori Classroom experience
24 years Montessori Administrative experience
Certified American Montessori Association and Early Childhood Education
Photography by Alexis Perrine & Marie Boyden
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