By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor
LEE’S SUMMIT — Oh yes, it was a celebration, ho’olaule’a! Cheerleaders, KC Wolf, the Panther, students in their spirit wear, music and noise. It was the annual spirit rally concluding Catholic Schools Week at Our Lady of the Presentation School on Feb. 3.
The theme was Aloha Kehaki i Kehaki, Love One Another, with various Hawaiian decorations, costumes (Father Tom Holder, pastor of Our Lady of the Presentation, wore an enormous pair of green and blue sunglasses!) paper leis around many necks, and games including a hula hoop competition.
For days, if not weeks, students had participated in projects culminating during the rally. Prizes were awarded for Knights of Columbus poster and essay contests.
Students had collected personal care items, holy cards, small books, and signed, handwritten notes, saying, “God Bless You!” and assembled 1,000 care packages for people in need. Five hundred were set aside for Project Uplift, an organization that gathers and distributes food, blankets and other necessities for the homeless living on the streets and under bridges in the Kansas City area.
The other 500 care packages were to be distributed through the parish ministries.
Each year the different grades compete in a coin war; students contribute spare change collected in a jar. The grade collecting the most change receives a check for half the total to donate to their favorite charity, and the other half is donated to Lee’s Summit Social Services. This year, $1,648.23 was collected. The grade collecting the most change, $495.35, was fourth grade. Their charity, the parish’s sister community in El Salvador, and Lee’s Summit Social Services each received $824.12.
Teachers and students enjoyed the games, all with Hawaiian themes, and performances by the cheerleaders as anticipation mounted for the best part of the rally: The Teacher of the Year Award.
Nominations are sent in by alumni and parents for particular teachers who have gone above and beyond expectations to help their students learn, grow in faith and confidence, and be the best version of themselves they can be. The finalist nominations are sent, with names blacked out, to a group of people with no connections to the school, and the runner-up and winner are chosen. The winner receives the Sister of Charity of Leavenworth Teacher of the Year Award, a check for $1,000 from the PTO, and a coveted parking spot right near the school entrance for one year.
The winner? Mr. Terry Nyhan, middle school science teacher. He was choked up and kept his remarks brief, “Thank you!”
The rally ended not only Catholic Schools Week, but also the school day. Parents were waiting in the parking lot for their kids to start a slightly longer weekend than usual. Aloha!