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Willow Grove School Hosts Military Personnel

February 14, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

By Jesse Reilly
The Public Spirit/Globe Times Chronicle


Although it might not be immediately obvious, the military and Catholic education may be more related than one may think. Or at least that was the message at St. David School in Willow Grove Jan. 31, where the students kicked off Catholic Schools Week with a presentation by members of the 111th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard from the Willow Grove Naval Air Station.

Catholic Schools Weeks is an annual celebration of the values-centered, faith-driven education that students receive in Catholic elementary, secondary and special education school,” a release from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia stated.

This year’s theme is Catholic Schools: A+ for America.

“[The theme] acknowledges that Catholic education has been a driving force in our communities across America and an asset in serving our fellow neighbors,” the Rev. Michael Fitzgerald, who overseas Catholic education on behalf of Cardinal Rigali, said in a release. “During the week thousands of students across the Archdiocese will bring the theme of ‘A+ for America’ to life by participating in service projects that demonstrate the intangible value of Catholic education and the full academic and spiritual development that it provides our youth.”

“What does A+ for America mean,” MSgt. Kevin Watson asked the students. “To me it means building good citizens, it means core values.”

And the core values of the military — volunteerism, service before self and excellence in all you do — seem to mirror those taught at the school.

“I bet your parents tell you to put your best foot forward everyday,” Watson said, adding that helping out at school and in the community as well as doing the right thing even when it isn’t easy are some of the things the two have in common. “Not everyone has those core values, but you do.”

Like friendships in school, MSgt. Jack Hill, also a presenter, said one of the best parts of the military is the camaraderie.

“You can do anything you can imagine but you can’t do it by yourself,” he told the students, adding that the same concept works in the military.

“If we didn’t work together nothing would get done,” he said.

During the presentation the men gave the students a history of the Air National Guard and its Red Horse missions, talked about how they came to be in the military and gave students the opportunity to as them questions.

“I really liked being able to talk to them,” eighth-grader Jack Waltrich said. “I’ve never been able to do that before.”

The concept that most paralleled the military and his Catholic education was teamwork. It’s something, he said, everyone needs.

“I like going to Catholic school,” he said. “I think it helps me be a better person.”

Seventh-grader Emma Turnbach agreed.

“I think we have team work here,” she said. “We’re not just a school, we’re like a big family, everyone knows everyone.”

In addition to learning about the servicemen the students wrote cards and collected items throughout the week to create care packages for those overseas.

“We’re calling it Valentines for Veterans,” seventh-grade teacher and organizer of the event Joe Smith said. “The core values of the military go hand-in-hand with what we teach and that’s what we wanted them to get.”

Republished with the permission of The Public Spirit/Globe Times Chronicle

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