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John Paul II Academy: Fall is for field trips, farewells

John Paul II Academy: Fall is for field trips, farewells

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Change, mystery, preservation, protection, comfort, balance and letting go are all symbolic meanings of autumn that remind us of how awesome God’s creation is! This was the focus of my article one year ago, and it seems fitting that I follow up on how these symbols are reflected in our current school year.

September brought many changes. We welcomed three new children and are thrilled to share our mission with them. Braelyn, pre-K, joined her older sister Jozalyn as part of our primary group. These girls are compassionate bundles of joy and intelligence! Fourth grader Kaylin is a gentle soul with a kind heart and witty personality. Michael, a fifth grader, loves recess, field trips, the red uniform shirts and making new friends. Braelyn, Kaylin and Michael help bring a sense of balance, mystery and preservation to our John Paul II family.

We also let go, and said goodbye, to four students, our teacher and our cooking teacher. Peter graduated and is moving on to play soccer and swim for the Southern Cayuga Chiefs. Sadly, we lost Lily because of the state law eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines. May God bless and protect them all in their future endeavors. I am delighted to add the role of teacher to my repertoire and have thoroughly enjoyed delving into our mission in this capacity. "But of everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and of him to whom they have entrusted much, they will demand the more.” — Luke 12:48. I am humbled and honored to share my God-given gifts with the children and families of JPII and pray for success in doing God’s work!

One of the most successful programs we use is called "Spell to Write and Read" by Wanda Sanseri. This phonics-based approach to spelling teaches students to read the “write” way by spelling their way into reading. Students hear a word and write it through guided dictation. Next, he/she reads the word after having written it accurately and analyzes it using spelling rules. After a student can mentally sound out a word in order to write it correctly (spell), he/she can naturally see a word and blend the sounds together (read). Instruction is reinforced with an integrative approach that includes literature, logic, grammar, dictionary skills, Greek and Latin roots, reading comprehension, etc. As a class, our comfort level with the program increases daily and we’re all on our way to being fantastic spellers.

This year, cooking class includes a plethora of activities and skills that correlate with the seasons. We started off September by making homemade cream cheese and butter, and boy were they delicious! Next, we visited The Apple Station, learned how Miss Kathy makes the apple cider doughnuts and enjoyed samples of doughnuts and cider. We also picked apples to use during the next weeks’ cooking classes: homemade apple pie filling and applesauce! Students took their creations home to share with family. Hopefully, they will be encouraged to bake desserts for the upcoming holiday season and preserve family traditions. We are getting ready to explore what the pumpkin has to offer: pumpkin pie and yummy pumpkin seeds!

There is no better way to pay homage to God’s creation than to study it through botany, from the Greek "botane," meaning "plant." We are marveling at how “the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it.” — Genesis 1:12. On days one and two of creation, God created day, night, heaven, earth, and seas; a suitable environment for the fruit to come forth in order to sustain all life. What a creative miracle! Thank you to our friend Mr. Marek for the fun-filled educational class in his backyard! It was the perfect setting to explore and relish in God’s beauty.

Field trips have always been an integral part of our curriculum. We shared an entertaining morning with our friends at ElderChoice transforming flour, dough and frosting into cookie bats, ghosts and pumpkins. A competitive game of Scattergories challenged us with B, C, and P words and left us beaming. Precision and patience were on display at the pool table and Wii station. It is comforting to witness the joyful and tender interactions of God’s children of all ages!

Stay tuned for future highlights. We’ll be visiting our favorites: Seymour Library, Holy Family, The Faatz-Crofut Home, Miss Suzi’s art studio and a variety of new places!

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, call (315) 252-4393, email or write to St. John Paul II Academy, 6201 Center St., Cayuga, NY 13034 or P.O. Box 1318, Auburn, NY 13021.


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