Presentation School lassoed Joy during Catholic Schools Week

The entire Our Lady of the Presentation student body dances with the Panther Dancers at the Catholic Schools Week Assembly Feb. 1. The annual assembly marks the closing of a week of service, activities and faith to celebrate Catholic Schools with JOY. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

LEE’S SUMMIT — At Our Lady of the Presentation School February 1, teachers in jeans and cowboy boots escorted their classes into the gym where Panther cheerleaders danced and Paws, the school mascot, high-fived as many students as he could. The annual Catholic Schools Week Assembly was about to start, and the students were waiting for the fun to begin. C’mon clock, move your hands!

At exactly 10:45 a.m., Principal Jodie Briggs and Father Tom Holder, parish pastor, climbed the stage steps to rousing cheers. After Mrs. Briggs called for quiet, she welcomed the students, faculty and guests, including a representative of the parish Knights of Columbus Council, a representative of Lee’s Summit Social Services, a representative of Operation Breakthrough, and a member of the Teacher of the Year Committee, then turned the microphone over to Fr. Holder.

Wearing a (huge) 10-gallon cowboy hat, the priest led an opening prayer, urging the students and adults to “give thanks for all their blessings and for the blessing of being in a Catholic school. Lord, fill us with your joy so we may share it with others.”

The 2019 Catholic Schools Week Theme was “Joy” and Presentation’s assembly theme was “Round up Joy!”

The next 30 minutes or so were filled with contests, games and performances by the Pantherettes and the Mini-Pantherettes (primary grades cheerleaders). The games were coordinated by teachers or assembly committee members, and helped? by K.C. Wolf, the Kansas City Chief’s mascot. Dr. Paul Matlock of the Knights of Columbus announced the three top Knights of Columbus Essay Contest submissions from seventh and eighth graders. The theme was “How Does Your Family Live Out Their Catholic Faith?” He said 56 essays were received.

Third place went to Kathryn Unger; second place to Cameron Cianciolo, and first place, with its $100 prize was won by Josephine Lam. All three girls are eighth graders.

Operation Breakthrough was gifted with dozens of cards and snack packs for their kids, a check for $533.49 were raised by the students for Operation Breakthrough and a check for $500 from the annual Turkey Trot Run near Thanksgiving.

Some of the teachers participated in a relay that included dressing in chaps, cowboy hat, vest and star, riding a stick pony to a checkpoint, lassoing a stuffed horse and riding it to a group of middle school boys who would teach them line-dancing, then off to play horseshoes and finish the relay. Every participant received a prize for the relay.

Fr. Holder announced the outcome of the recent coin wars competition. The class raising the most money would send half the total raised to their classroom charity and the other half of the funds would be donated to Lee’s Summit Social Services, one of the parish/school’s organizational partners. The winning class was fourth grade, raising a total of 1,899.80. Their charity is the parish’s sister community in El Salvador, which would receive a check for $949.90, as did Lee’s Summit Social Services.

The room quieted as Mrs. Briggs announced the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Teacher of the Year Award. The first teachers at Our Lady of the Presentation School were of that religious community and they still maintain a relationship with the school. The honorable mention went to First Grade teacher Kaye Mount, of whom a student said, “She makes me laugh and she’s kind.”

The Teacher of the Year receives a check for $1,000, and a year’s parking place right in front of the school entrance. 2019’s Teacher of the Year is Jeff Wright, upper middle school Social Studies teacher. Some praises for him from past and current students included, “he motivates me to always do my best” … “encourages us to get out of our comfort zone” … “makes me always feel noticed, valued” … “his impact is profound!” Along with the check and the parking place, Wright also received a plaque.

As the clock neared noon dismissal, Mrs. Briggs had one final celebratory announcement to make. The Kansas City Business Journal had recently published a list of the top 20 private schools in the Kansas City area: Our Lady of the Presentation School was number 9! The cheers were deafening.

Catholic Schools Week at Presentation sure ended with joy!


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November 29, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph