Friday, May 25, 2012

Congratulations and Good -Byes!

Everyone always looks forward to the end of the school year-students, teachers and the principal. But yet when it comes it also means saying good-bye to friends, great students and special memories.

At All Saints Catholic School we had only one graduate this year. George was in our school for nine years and he is a shining example of what a Graduate of a Catholic School should be. George received all kinds of awards: High Honors for all nine years at our school, Service Award, American History Award, Student Council President and so on.

A reception was held after Mass for all the students and teachers as George was a friend to all students. Each student made him a card and enjoyed some of his cake and ice cream.

One memory that George leaves with our school is dumping a pan of water on his principal. George was awarded the Service Award, as one project he took upon himself was the cleaning up and setting up of the cafeteria every day. One day as he was folding the tables up and I had cafeteria duty that day, I looked up and saw the pan of water used to wash the tables up in the air over my head directed right at me. There wasn't time to move away. I screamed and got doused with water. The cafeteria became still and George was in shock and all waited for my reaction. I laughed and George was very apologetic. ( I was glad they had not added bleach into the water that day.) Since then everyone wanted to know how I was going to get back at George and so did George. He waited for it. At the Last Blast I challenged him in the water balloon toss but got wet twice. At last as I filled a bucket of water up for the Sponge Bucket Race, George had his back to me and I couldn't resist throwing the bucket of water at him. He was glad that I finally got him and many students gave me the High 5!

On Graduation Day we also promoted our Kindergarten Class to First Grade.

We said good-bye to three students who are moving out of state because of their parents' jobs.

School Year 2011- 2012 held many blessings for all of us! We give thanks to God for His goodness to us.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Guess What You Can't Bring Across The Border

We had a presentation from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. What an eye opener for my students when they realized they had brought something illegal across the border and is in their house-like shells from the Mexican beaches.

Mule Deer Antlers
The two officers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife had two tables full of items they took from Americnas trying to cross back into the U.S. from Mexico. Items as: Tortoise shells, armadillo skin, boots from the skin, furs from cheetah, mountain lion, cougar, jackal and many more. My students were fascinated and by their questions I knew they had some illegal items in their house by mistake.

Jewelry from the tortoise shell

Armadillo skin & boots from it too!

They also brought along two king snakes which love to eat rattle  snakes. King snakes are the ones you want to have as they eat many predators. The rattle snakes just hide in their corner when they sense a king snake near. Now the snakes they brought were real and when they asked who would like to hold one my name from teachers and students was shouted out. I am not a snake lover. I encountered many a snake the 9 years I was in Mississippi. I either ran and screamed from them or killed them if they would not leave our playground. I thought be brave and pretend you like it. I know a couple times I cringed as it was moving up my arm with the forked tongue flashing in and out.

The other exciting event this week in school was the annual Last Blast or to most people final school picnic. We began with games as you can see.

Balloon sit with a little help from Sr. Kay to pop the balloon.

 Old Fashion Sack Race

Musical Chairs for all ages-including the pastor.

Then time to eat and parents and grandparents gladly grilled out for us.

Onto bingo with our own pastor calling out the numbers in unique patterns students had to get to win a prize-he did not make it easy for them.

After bingo karaoke!!! and of course their favorite-make your own ice cream sundae with about 10 toppings.

The first Student Council of the school celebrated the end of their term with the following menu: Papa Murphy's Pizza, Sr. Carol's homemade cookies and Orange Fanta. They chose to have the party at the Sisters' house. After eating they had their favorite recess game "Groundies". Know how to play it?

They ate the whole batch of chocolate chip cookies!

With my 3rd and 4th grade Religion class we prayed the rosary outside stopping at religious spots on our campus. Each student gave a petition before they lead their part of the rosary. This truly gave insight as to what these children are thinking but don't always say. One petition was: For the pain to be soon gone of the children whose parents are divorcing.

This Sunday morning as I arrived at about 6:45am for the  first Mass of the morning I saw our neighbors taking an early morning walk up our road!

Then it was time to take a picture of the beautiful flowers blooming in front of our school.

Onto the 2nd Mass of the day where the new altar servers were commissioned at Mass. What a beautiful ceremony. The parents had to tie the cord around their child's waist.

Onto graduation and the final awards ceremony of the year and Vacation For The Students!!!!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Relay For Life

Friday, May 11 I joined many from our parish staff and parish choir for the Walk for Relay For Life. I had done the Relay many times in Mississippi. There were so many of our parishioners taking part in the Relay. The Sierra Vista Relay For Life raises more money for the American Cancer Society than the one annually held in Phoenix.

Our Lady of the Mountains Parish Staff at the Relay

 Candles in bags lit for those who died from cancer.

Pink for Cancer-Everyone gets involved!
 Hugging one of our school parents who is a cancer survivor.

Sierra Vista Fire Dept. took part in the Relay. Last week's School Canyon Fire is put out. 


Saturday was a busy day at our parish. The 2nd and 3rd graders from our school received their First Holy Communion. Children and parents were super excited and everyone was dressed up.

 Hannah wore her grandmother's First Communion dress. My veil for 1st Communion looked exactly like that. A proud little granddaughter!

Anxious children ready to process in.

Santa Cruzan Novena

The day is not done. After singing at the 5:00pm Mass I joined the Filipino members of our choir over at St.Andrew the Apostle Church in the city, for the novena of Santa Cruzan. The novena is for when St. Helen of Troy found the three crosses and in particular the one Jesus died on.

Members of the FilAm Club of Sierra Vista processed into church for their 5:00pm Mass and sang songs for Mass in their native language of Tagala. After Mass a Filipino buffet was held in Kino Hall, (the parish's hall). The Filipino ladies danced several numbers for us in their beautiful costumes.

The teenagers and men got involved by dancing their native dance of "tinnikling" with the bamboo sticks. No one had their feet pinched.

A busy weekend and now on to the last full week of school and The Last Blast on Tuesday- a tradition at All Saints Catholic School.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

First Fire of the Season

Today I had another new experience at my new home in Sierra Vista, Arizona-the forest/mountain fires began!!!  One could see the panic and concern in the people's faces who were in the parish office and school. Those who went through the fires of last summer. Our school and parish were evacuated twice last year. No plan in place then but we have an evacuation plan in place now. But are you ever ready to evacuate from a huge fire that a forest fire creates? I don't think so.

The call came in to the U.S. Forest Dept. at about 10:00am this morning that the fire had "jumped the border" into the U.S.It is 20 miles southwest of Sierra Vista. So far 1,200 acres have been charred. The fire is burning in the Montezuma Pass where I have hiked several times. Strong winds today drove the fire north toward us. Several campgrounds have been evacuated.

Fighting the fire are six air tankers, two helicopters, four water tankers, 12 engines and two 20-person crews have been assigned to the fire so far. The fire dept. on our road has gone there to help with a "brush engine". I need to learn what this is.

At 1:30pm when I was looking at the white smoke clouds in the sky it was hard to tell at first that it wasn't just a cloud. At 2:30pm I looked out in front of our school and this is what I saw over the Huachuca Mountains by us:

I was glad to see the fire still burning on the other side of the mountains. Eventually the smoke clouds turned an organish-brown which means they are fighting the fire from the air and the chemicals are turning the smoke this color. When I left school at 5:00pm the smoke clouds were getting whiter.

I think we have a long summer ahead of us with fires, especially since we are in a severe drought. They are predicting the monsoons to start June 15th which many say is too early a date.

Besides the fire here is what else is happening at All Saints Catholic School and Our Lady of the Mountains Parish:

  • Sunday all the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity who work in Arizona traveled to Gila Bend, the "fan-belt capital of the world" (it is so hot here and by the time you drive across the desert your fan belt is burnt out). There were 22 of us. We met at Little Italy Restaurant. We traveled the farthest to get there - 3 hours. Gas in the Fan Belt Capital of the World is $4.06.
  • The first Friday of May was our school Mass. We had benediction first to conclude the 24 hour adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. After coming all year to the Benediction our students now know the prayers, songs and what to do. Very impressive!
  • During this Mass the students crowned the statue of Mary to honor her during the month of May. Students in Grades 3-9th were invited to write a paragraph as to why they would be honored to crown Mary. All those who were not chosen would be in the Court of Honor. After Fr. Ariel's homily, the Court of Honor, ( most of them wearing their 1st Communion dresses and veils) lined up in back of hurch with the 4th grade boy chosen to crown Mary. They each had a flower in their hand and their songsheets-On This Day O Beautiful Mother and Bring Flowers of the Rarest.

  • After Mary was crowned each student and teacher were invited up to place their rose at the feet of Mary.

  •  My secretary called the local grocery store for some old roses. We got them-7 dozen long stem red roses for a $1.00 a dozen. They are still blooming beautifully 5 days later. I think they gave us a deal to honor Mary. Many of the older parishioners had tears in their eyes at how reverent the children were and how beautiful the ceremony was. They hadn't seen this done in years. I know it was a first for the school children because when I first brought it up they had no clue what I was talking about.

  • Another new experience for me is "house shopping". Since they never had Sisters at our school and parish they did not have a convent for us. A three bedroom house was rented for us 10 minutes away, 4.1 miles and two stop lights that sometimes make it longer than 10 minutes.
  • I am looking for a house with four bedrooms and a room for a chapel and within a mile of school. There are six houses for sale just in our school neighborhood. I have gone to see all of them either when they held an open house or I called the realtor to see it personally. I read the ads in the newspaper and when I find one for four bedrooms I do mapquest to see how far from school. If close, I give them a call.
  • This past week I put a "help wanted ad" in the parish bulletin to help me find a house. I got two responses. One is a strong possiblity. It is .3 mile behind school on the dirt, rocky road - no county maintenance. It has four bedrooms upstairs and a large office that could serve as a chapel. The deer come to those windows in the morning to eat grass. The owner is going to Germany to live with her husband who is stationed there for over a year now working for the government. Now I just need the pastor to take a look at it to give his approval to go ahead and sign the lease. Then the packing will begin. St. Jude, St. Joseph and Our Lady please intercede for us. Time is running out. The pastor leaves May 23rd for the Philippines and the decision needs to be made by then. Say a prayer for a Yes!