Sunday, September 29, 2013


 Pope Francis quote for September is: "A shepherd must smell like the sheep-I came to serve not to be
 served. " The faculty and students decided they would live out this quote of Pope Francis by  bringing food in for St. Vincent de Paul and also items for an orphanage for girls, called La Divina Providencia in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico.

Each class has two boxes in their classroom: one for food for the March for the Poor and one for the orphanage. Each class decided what item they wanted to collect for the orphanage. There was a nice variety. Here is the list: PreSchool-clothes for infants, PreKinder-hygiene products, Kindergarten-toothpaste and toothbrushes, Gr. 1-school supplies, Grs. 2/3- socks & underwear, Grs. 4/5-children's clothes, Grs. 6/7-storybooks in Spanish and English.
 Grade 1 donated school supplies.

Grades 6 and 7 with the food they donated for the Walk For The Poor. They had decided to purchase bilingual story books for the orphanage but their order didn't arrive in time so they switched to clothes for the girls.

Kindergarten donated toothbrushes and toothpaste for a shiny smile! :):):)

PreSchool collected hygiene products for the orphanage.

Prekindergarten with their food for St. Vincent de Paul

Some of the students who walked with me on the Walk For The Poor. We all gathered outside St. Andrew's Catholic Church and walked one mile to the St. Vincent de Paul Store pushing the donated food in grocery shopping carts.

150 people took part in the Annual Walk For the Poor

On Sunday the FilAm Club also journeyed with Pope Francis. They held an egg roll fundraiser with the money going to Our Lady of the Mountain Parish.

At 6:30am they were at church setting up to be ready for the 7:30am Mass.


Many dozens and dozens eggrolls were sold on Sunday.  Some parishioners picked up their preorders to fry themselves others bought hot, fresh eggrolls before they went home.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Budding Church Musicians

Sunset from outside Our Lady of the Mountains Parish

When I arrived at All Saints Catholic School three years ago, the pastor asked for a children's choir for the school Masses. I am not a pianist nor a musician but I know how to find the people to get the project done. I found two musicians from our parish-Our Lady of the Mountains, to take turns playing for the choir.

 I advertised the children's choir and built it up to the students and I got a great group of students, around 17 from Grs. 2-7th for the choir. Being at other schools, I was able to gather some children's songs for Mass and we were off and singing.

Before you knew it, we were also singing at the 9:30am parish Mass the 3rd Sunday of every month. We even sang at our neighboring parish-St. Andrew's for one of their Sunday Masses. We got great reviews from all parishioners and the people at OLM always ask, when are the children singing? We love to hear them.

A real blessing now, is that three of our choir members are taking piano lessons so they can play for the choir and two of them already have played a song at one of the Masses.

I had lunch with these three budding church musicians so I could ask them a few questions about their desire to play the piano and in church.

May I introduce to you, three of my 5th grade students-Jade, Natalie and Bailey.

Why did you decide to take piano lessons?
Jade, who was the first to take piano lessons said: " I watched Ms. Amy play for our school Masses. I loved the sound of the piano. I talked to her and she gave me a name and phone number of a piano teacher."

Bailey-" I wanted to be a part of the church choir and I wanted to help the church."
Natalie-" I saw Jade playing the piano at church and my grandmother plays the piano too."

How did you feel before you took your 1st piano lesson? Jade responded, " Excited and scared, I didn't know if the piano teacher would be fun or mean."
Bailey said she was happy but concerned whether her piano teacher would like her.
Natalie said she was excited and not nervous. Her mom told her the piano teacher was very nice and she wouldn't let me down. My piano teacher on the first lesson told me not to worry that I could do it.

My next question I asked was-What is the hardest part about playing the piano in church for the choir?  They all agreed they are very nervous doing it. Natalie said, " If I mess up, I just can hear them saying-" Why is she up there playing?" Jade also said, "Some of the new songs are hard to learn. It might take me three weeks to learn how to play it."

Ah, so the girls do practice at home. I know that because often the parents will send me a video of them practicing a church song at home. I can tell they have improved greatly since they all have started.

I asked the girls then-"Do you think you would like to play in church for a choir when you are adults?"
Natalie quickly responded YES! because she gets a special feeling when she plays for God. "I see God when I play," Natalie said with a bright smile.
Jade responded, " I want to play in church when I am an adult but not fulltime. I would also like to learn how to play a band instrument and play that in church also. "
These hands are playing for God.

I asked the girls what are some of their favorite church songs to play and here is their list of favorites:
I Have Redeemed You, I Am A C, Gather to be Sent, The Summons and On Eagle Wings.

The final question I asked at our lunch interview was the following:
"Have you ever thought about being a Sister and being a Sister Musician. "
Jade responded quickly, "Yes, I have been thinking about whether I should be a Sister for a long, long, long time. I want to serve God and meet other Sisters. I wasn't sure though what kind of job I wanted to do so I went on the internet and checked out all kinds of jobs. I asked myself, should I be a Sister or an actress -I am not sure yet. "

Bailey also said she has thought about being a Sister because then she could serve God, meet the Pope, be a musical Sister and play in church.

Natalie also said she wanted to be a Sister because then you could be a mom to a lot of children  but not your own kids and as a Sister you are like a mom to them. ( To myself I thought, ohhh so this is what they think of me - as a mother), Natalie continued to say that as a Sister she could play the piano in church, have kids but not as a mom and she could be closer to God.

There went the bell and we were all back to class for the afternoon!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Favorite part of being a principal??? Recess Duty!!

One of my goals as a principal is to be with the students as much as possible. It helps me to: 1) know them better, 2) learn how I can help them, 3) understand the teachers when they talk about their class and 4) it is great to have the students see me outside of "The Principal's Office" so they can know me also.

Every month I alternate duties between Recess and Cafeteria Supervision. This month I am supervising Kindergarten through 7th grade on the playground. This is my favorite time of the day.  I love being outside and moving around. This is probably what motivated me to take an online class this month called, " Early Childhood Teaching Methods in Physical Education." I need the credits for my state certification as Director of our PreSchool Program.

On our playground, as we close out our monsoon season this month, the boys and girls are busy hunting grasshoppers and caterpillars. With the monsoon season, we have scattered green grass on our playground-a great home for an abundant crop of caterpillars and grasshoppers.

They love to show me them, let them crawl all around them and they work hard at having the most unique grasshopper and caterpillar than anyone else on the playground. It provides great conversation as they try to name the grasshoppers by how they look. And yes they find many kinds - and no I don't touch them.
The hunt is on as soon as they get through the playground gate!
 Tether ball is another hit for the non-critter students. It is one game I enjoy also playing with them. I had a high five one day from one of the boys "for having a great first game at tether ball." I didn't tell him I have played it many times before and yes, I am competitive.
To the dismay of all, the ball came off the rope and our janitor took off on vacation and forgot to put it back on. I promised them to bring the ladder out and see if we can tie the ball back up or put the new one up I just purchased.

We also have a group that loves the gym set to climb and hang from. The tinier they are the quicker they are on the bars.
The swings - a part of every playground-that never goes away-and yes, I enjoy swinging on them when one is empty.


Then, all of a sudden, a call goes out--" A scorpion!!" This is the season for them too.
 And wouldn't you know it.... they found this large scorpion attacking a grasshopper.  What an active insect world we have on our playground. I think they skipped religion class and did not learn the Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not kill.

But-the lucky student-who can find the largest grasshopper. I believe he called this one "The Army Grasshopper."


Then at recess you have a group that just want to visit and sit under the shade and a group of ambitious girls who take part in our Knitting Club on Mondays after school. They are proud to show off their knit and purl.

There goes the whistle-time for lunch-and all are hungry and ready to head to the cafeteria.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Praying, Rattlesnakes & Bisbee's Copper Queen Mine Tour

Labor Day brought a variety of activities my way! Saturday, the Sisters from San Xavier in Tucson met me at LaPurisima Retreat Center in Hereford, about 15 minutes from Sierra Vista. We spent time talking, eating, praying, fighting snakes, scorpions and having fun. Here is how the weekend went.
I got there first and met the caretaker and sat outside in the beautiful AZ sun, enjoying the green hills from all of our monsoon rains this season that is quickly coming to an end.

Shortly, the five Sisters from Tucson arrived and we enjoyed a picnic lunch together. We then decided to hike/ride to the top of the mountain to do some reflection at Our Lady of the Sierras.

Ready for the long hike -winding up to the top!
 Along the way, I saw this furry, fat caterpillar munching away and getting fatter! My students would love him as they have been busy at recess collecting caterpillars-till I finally said, "You may not put the caterpillars in your lunchboxes!" (lunch is after recess) . Now, I feel at ease to eat the goodies they offer me from their lunchboxes as I supervise the cafeteria.
Finally, we made it to the top- a little hot and sweaty!

What a view we had of the blue skies and the little town below!
We reflected in the newly rebuilt chapel. The 1st chapel was destroyed in the Monument Fire of June 2011!
Looks like the Gates of Heaven!

After coming down from the mountain we prayed and reflected together.
Then it was off to Ricardo's Restaurant for a taste of Mexican food. Delicious!

Coming home that night some were going to play cards in the hall at LaPurisima and we were heading to the bedrooms first. The doors opened to the outside courtyard. One Sister shouted out,  "There's a snake by the bedroom doors!!!!"
We all came to check it out.
One Sister took a broom handle and hit the sidewalk thinking the vibrations would move him. No way! 

I took some gravel and threw it at him to chase him away and that is when he put up his tail and we heard his rattle-it was indeed a rattlesnake-black and white striped tail!! My first rattlesnake I saw up close.
We decided to call for back-up; as we knew no one would sleep this night and we could not wait for the rattle snake to finally move so we could get into our bedrooms.
The caretaker came with his daughter. Now, I know if we were at school and we had snakes, our janitor or the local firemen would capture the snake and take it further out into the desert but at night there was no time for that and we were already flat in the middle of the desert at the retreat center.

After this excitement, I asked the caretaker, "Now, if there is one snake will there be another close by following?" He replied, "No, they don't travel together. This should be it for the night. " Then his daughter yelled, "There is another one around the corner. " Sure enough, slinking by the wall of the building making its way to come onto the sidewalk by the bedrooms. It was bigger than the first one so it had to be shot in the head. The shovel would not do. I learned, if you shine a light in the eyes, it blinds it and then it makes it easier to kill it.

As we were talking after all this, they quickly stepped on a scorpion that was right by my open toed sandals. I certainly didn't want a scorpion bite!
Cards were played and then all went to bed-but checked first for spiders and scorpions in the rooms before lights were turned out.
The next morning we journeyed to Our Lady of the Mountains Parish for Mass with Fr. Ariel and the parishioners. They were thrilled to see so many Sisters and one of my students asked me, "Are these the Sisters coming to our school? " I replied, "Yes!"  She believed me and was thrilled. Sisters are very much appreciated at our school and parish and gladly would like more to be there.

After Mass, we proceeded to Bisbee. We first toured the historical Catholic Church there-St. Patrick's.
Beautiful stain glass windows throughout the whole church!
Then it was on to the Copper Queen Mine tour. We put on jackets as the temperature in the mine was 47 degrees.

Before the tour we had time to check out the museum on the outside of the mine.

The miners did not have an easy life or a long life as we found out on the tour. One of the drills was called by the miners-"The Widow-Maker" because it created so much dust that the miners breathed in daily. Their lungs were soon filled with that white dust and died after a few years of working in the mine.

Here is the train we took into the mine.
We straddled it and put our feet on the running board and hung on to the person in front of us.
Before we got on the train we were fitted with a yellow jacket, miner's light and hard hat.

 One of the Sisters asked the gentleman if he ever had put a hard hat on a Sister's veil before. He said, "No. We saw you come in and started to talk about how we were going to get the hard hat on the veil. We decided to give it a try."  He did a great job. Not a one fell off in the mine. Once the hat is put on your head they turn a large screw on the back of it to tighten it to fit your head.

We were next given a  miner's light to wear to light our way in the mine. It was very dark down there and a definite 47 degrees.
 Ready to go!
Lights are on!
 This is how close we got to the mine wall.
We got to get off twice to walk around and see how the mining was done.
I found the most interesting part was the story about the mules. Mules were used in the mine but first they had to go to school. They had to learn the noises of the mine, the miners' carts, how to pull, and adjust to the darkness. A lot of money was put into the training of the mules so once they started working in the mines they were treated better than the miners at times. Once their years in the mines were done, they were let loose into a green pasture during their retirement. I know they truly earned a green pasture after their hard work those years.
After the tour we had a quick lunch at Burger King and then good-byes were said and we went back to our own convents.
My Labor Day weekend is not over yet. I was invited to play 9 holes of golf at the Knights of Columbus Golf Tournament at 2:00pm on Monday. It was at Turquoise Valley Golf Tournament in Naco, AZ which is the border town to Naco, Mexico. I traveled the same road to Bisbee but turned right instead of going into the city of Bisbee. Here is the fence put up between the U.S. and Mexico.

 We teed off in the heat of the day at 2:00pm after a night of rain, lightning and thunder. So we had humidity and not the dry air of Arizona we normally have. I played with Fr. Ariel, our pastor and two parishioners. We all took turns having the best ball at each of the 9 holes.
Fr. Ariel, trying hard to get onto the green.



A good time was had by all even when one of the golfers called , FORE!! I hit the ground and my veil came off. He hit the ball right over my head. Perhaps it was the wind velocity of the ball that knocked my veil off.  I heard lots of laughing from the men, even though the pastor says he didn't laugh. :):) I'm glad I made their day. By 4:40pm the 9 holes were over and I gladly got a very cold Diet Coke and went home to cool off. Back to school tomorrow! I bet I had a more exciting weekend than most of my students. We will compare stories.