"August" comes from the Latin word "augustus," meaning "consecrated" or "venerable," "accorded a great deal of respect especially because of age, wisdom or character." Hence, the month of August was named after Augustus Caesar, the first Roman emperor. At St. John Paul II Academy, we aspire to be an august school and pray for God’s blessings as we embark on our seventh school year!

In June, we visited the Genoa Historical Association's Rural Life Museum, hosted by Marilyn Mann and Patti Nunno. This was an especially exceptional trip since I was able to reunite with my former colleagues from Southern Cayuga School District and one of my former students, Sapphire Lonsky. Mrs. Nunno, dressed as an 1800s school teacher, brought to life a school day for our children. They were welcomed by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing "You’re a Grand Old Flag" outside under the flagpole. Next, they entered the classroom girls first, then boys according to age. They were intrigued with the dunce cap, the inkwells on the desks, the outhouse, and the attire of the times. After class, Marilyn Mann brought the children to the barn and showed them games and various other aspects of life in the 1800s.

Next we popped over to the home of Sapphire Lonsky for lunch. We enjoyed learning about her family endeavors and how they relate to the 1800s. They raise many beautiful animals, barter various products, tend their gardens and raise industrious, conscientious and virtuous children. Sapphire and her son took the time to teach us about taking care of all their animals and even let the children hold and pet them. They are an exemplary model for us to glean from as we strive to be an august school. As a teacher for over 25 years, it is a blessing to see one of my students happy, successful and doing God’s work.

Each field trip is designed to enhance and complement our mission. One phrase struck me as I sat in the desk of the 1800s classroom. Mrs. Nunno stated, “Each day we will learn reading, writing and arithmetic.” This statement was so peaceful and pure. As the new head teacher of St. JPII Academy, I immediately knew we needed to infuse this simplicity into our quality approach to education. Our summer has been spent redesigning our classroom layouts, daily and weekly schedules, and revitalizing our prekindergarten program. This visit inspired us to tap into our virtue of orderliness that we prayed for daily last year. God has answered our prayers to help us bring peace, beauty, harmony and joy to all that He has entrusted to us.

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The influence of quality literature is imperative. "The Book of Virtues," by William J. Bennett, is a fantastic collection of poems, stories, essays and other passages that aid in the task of moral education. Training the hearts and minds of youth involves rules and precepts, the dos and don’ts of life. Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” In order for our children to possess virtuous behavior, we need to teach them what those traits are and why they deserve allegiance. If we want children to take morality seriously, they must be in the presence of adults who take it seriously and lead by example. I am proud to say that St. John Paul II Academy is blessed to have commendable moral examples as volunteers, family members and friends.

Holy Family Church, the mother church of Auburn, has been our loyal supporter from day one. We attend Mass and confession, and appreciate the various aspects of a beautiful faith community. The building provides a stunning setting for an artistic, architectural and faith-filled experience for all to enjoy. This year, we will be studying our faith through the architectural symbolism and depictions of the stained glass windows. The fact remains, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” The church was built in 1834 and is an example of Romanesque architecture. Everything from the shape of the building to the various design elements inside and out symbolize important aspects of our faith. There are 20 ornate stained glass windows made by German artisans and installed in 1912. Stay tuned for more details in future articles. Marianne Sabine shared her research, and we are grateful for her support and efforts.

As always, we invite our friends to visit the school at any time. Many blessings to all school children and educators.

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Jennifer T. Furnia is principal at St. John Paul II Academy and the mother of two boys at the school. For more information, or to schedule a visit, visit jp2la.org, call (315) 252-4393, email furniajp2@gmail.com or write to St. John Paul II Academy, 6201 Center St., Cayuga, NY 13034 or P.O. Box 1318, Auburn, NY 13021.