By Sara Kraft
St. Francis Xavier School in St. Joseph, Missouri is concentrating school-wide this year on how they can “Live Like Jesus and Thrive Like Jesus.” The idea originated from the diocesan school office, who asked each school to focus on ways to “Live Like Jesus.” After prayer and reflection, St. Francis Xavier School was further inspired by the Casting Crowns song “Thrive.” Each month, students and faculty focus on one attribute related to the letters of Thrive. In September, the attribute was “Be Thankful Like Jesus.” In October, it was “Be Happy Like Jesus.” November will focus on “Be Respectful Like Jesus.” Other attributes are “Include Like Jesus,” “Value Others Like Jesus,” “Evangelize Like Jesus” and “Serve Like Jesus.”
Throughout each month, the attribute of the month is woven into numerous activities. Because October was the month of the rosary, each morning in October a short reflection was offered on the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary during morning announcement time. This offered an insight into the rosary itself and taught how Jesus came into our lives.
“These prayers help us focus on what it means to be truly happy like Jesus, himself,” explained St. Francis Xavier Principal Darin Pollard. “It taught our students about the different people in the early Gospel, and widened their perspective of Jesus’ family.”
“I pray the rosary a lot and the reflections have helped me get into focus,” explained Lindsey Wright, fifth grader in Mrs. Trapp’s class. She explained it has particularly helped her focus during the rosary offered when her class attends monthly adoration and benediction.
Each week, students have prayed for a specific group of people. They have also been praying for an end to abortion in preparation for the eighth grade class’ trip to Washington D.C. for the March for Life in January. Finally, they have been praying for those who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.
Additionally, the traits are reinforced by the three St. Francis Xavier priests during the school Mass homily and through weekly classroom visits from the priests.
“Our priests asked ‘how would you look if you are happy like Jesus’?” explained Mrs. McQueen, second grade teacher. “After Mass, we discuss Father’s homily and try to relate it to their life.”
Throughout the month, faculty, staff, and volunteers watch for the class that best emulates the trait of the month. The class gets to vote on a special celebration, such as a pizza party or ice cream social to reinforce their behavior. This month, Mrs. Trapp’s fifth grade class won.
“This class has been very happy to be helpful in many areas this month,” explained Principal Pollard. “They helped their teacher who was absent by being on their best behavior for the substitute. They help each other when they struggle to learn, especially when they see a student who has specific learning, behavioral or emotional difficulties. Each child in the class is patient with these other students and their situations. At senior citizens day, they were very cheerful as they sang their songs and never complained about practice or preparation. The class also was full of smiles at the recent symphony field trip. They have specifically been noticed for improved attention in PE class when they have a lot of tasks to accomplish in circuit training; this makes their PE teacher happy too!
“The class connects with daily prayer over the announcements with great petitions offered for those in need. Lastly, they spent an hour of their day sharing their happiness and helpfulness with some preschool buddies in a joint learning project last week.”
Due to this initiative, fifth grader Audrey O’Rourke found herself reflecting on her behavior more. “Am I acting rude, or am I acting kind?”
Fifth grader Ella Habiger explained, “This has helped me to pray more and to focus on others. I have been nicer to my brother and we have fought a lot less.”
In September, the first grade class won due to their thankfulness in the school cafeteria line.