On the first day of classes at SS Peter and Paul School in Williamsville, kindergartners and first graders in the first row squealed and smiled as they were hit with holy water. They were gathered in the new 'Mind Cave' which was blessed by Bishop Richard J. Malone Wednesday afternoon.
"We have created a new maker-space called the 'Mind Cave" to enhance our STREAM program," said Deborah Lester, principal of SS Peter and Paul School. "We were one of the first STREAM schools and we were awarded a grant from Upon This Rock to put together this maker-space room where all the children can come in and build and problem solve and create and we're very excited about it."
The STREAM program combines science, technology, engineering and math with art and religion. The school's STREAM coordinator, Melissa Lindner says the transformation of an existing classroom will provide a space to have art, technology and social studies teachers create a one project in a neutral location. "The big reason why we wanted to do this room was because we embody interdisciplinary learning where multiple subject areas will work together to come up with a final project altogether," said Lindner.
As a former Catholic school teacher, Bishop Malone was pleased to have a chance to greet and bless the 150 students in grades K through 8 at SS Peter and Paul. "I love coming on the first day of school. They're in such great spirits, even for such a hot day. Of course now they're going to go have popsicles and that's not bad either," said Bishop Malone. "Everybody in the school knows that even with creative technology the whole point of the school is Jesus and helping the young people come to know his love and the mission that he gives to us all. Even at a difficult time in our diocese, this is the normal life of the church in Catholic education going on as it always did. It's very refreshing for me to be here today."
This will be Dr. Michael LaFever's first year as superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Buffalo. He notes that although most schools opened Wednesday, some opened Tuesday or Thursday. "It's so fun to see the children in the school buildings because they're the heart and soul of everything we do. It's so nice to see the young faces of our teachers that are so eager to start their school year and get things going. Hearing about the parent volunteers here at SS Peter and Paul, and the labor involved in making this school such a beautiful place, is just an incredible story in and of itself."