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SJV Comets build each other up through student-designed projects

December 16, 2019
Students at St. John Vianney show encouraging notes they received.

The halls at St. John Vianney Catholic School in Wyoming are buzzing, as students discover encouraging notes in their lockers or as they decide what to talk about at lunch with a classmate they’re getting to know better.

Those are just some of the ways that a few student-led projects are spreading encouragement and inspiration throughout the school community.

For one project, students have hidden notes around the school, with messages like “Be kind” on one side and encouraging Bible verses on the other. Finding one brings a smile to a student’s face, and usually inspires him or her to hide it somewhere else for another classmate to find.

Another project involves a set of challenges written on small papers gathered in a bowl in the school office. Students stop in, draw one of the papers, and find themselves on a mission to play with someone new at recess or help someone who’s struggling with their school work. Each of the challenges is an opportunity to provide Christian service to others.

It’s the middle school students who designed these projects. Fittingly, they were inspired by a small group of last year’s 8th graders. That group had created a series of inspirational emails for their peers, making sure everyone received a few inspirational quotes by email each week.

Related: SJV students use power of words for good

As students come up with new ways to lift each other up, the school community is growing even closer together, says Mr. Jim Hurst, middle school religion teacher. He coordinated these projects and gave groups four guidelines. Each project had to:

  • Be anonymous
  • Be personal
  • Promote face-to-face conversation
  • Reach students in kindergarten through 8th grade, reflecting our Catholic call to community

Mr. Hurst said students arrive to school “eager to see what new expression of kindness awaits them or what kind of new things there will be to find.” Plus, students in the lower grades have said they want to create similar projects, as well.

Along with the schoolwide benefits, the students creating these projects have been impacted in a particular way, said Mr. Hurst.

“The students who organized the projects are incredibly proud of what they accomplished.  We debriefed over the fact that what we did was not altogether hard, but it was incredibly meaningful.”

It’s one more example of how Catholic education helps students to know that they and everyone they meet are children of God.

St. John Vianney Catholic school educates more than 250 students in preschool through 8th grade. Learn more here.

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Grand Rapids are an alliance of 31 vibrant learning communities (26 elementary and five high schools) serving more than 6,340 preschool through 12th grade students throughout West Michigan. Our schools inspire young people to grow in Catholic faith and grace, achieve more in school and life, develop creativity and character, and feel welcomed and cherished for their unique gifts. We partner with parents to awaken the whole child to a world of light and life — that grows better and brighter when
children reach their potential.