Diocesan schools plan Christmas season events

First- and second-graders at St. Jude School in Chattanooga perform in the annual Christmas Pageant during the 2011 Christmas season. The story was written by the late Janet Wendall.
Photo courtesy of Kara Lockmiller

By Kara Lockmiller

Throughout the Bible we are encouraged to sing praises to God and give to those in need. The children of the diocese plan to do just that this Christmas season in the many school programs and service projects being held across East Tennessee.


Knoxville Catholic High School

Knoxville Catholic High School, 9245 Fox Lonas Road, Knoxville, will begin the season with its Fine Arts Celebration at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at the school. The celebration will include performances by KCHS’s band, choral and theater groups.

KCHS students will also perform the second annual Lessons and Carols at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at All Saints Church next door to the school’s campus.

The high school will host Breakfast With Santa at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at KCHS. Attendees are asked to bring an unwrapped new toy that will be donated. The cost is $10 per child.

KCHS students work throughout the year performing works of mercy via indirect and direct service projects. All work or service projects must be done for the benefit of the poor.

Every student is required to complete at least seven hours of service work per school year. Knoxville Catholic estimates its enrollment for the school year 2012-13 to be 698 students. This school year KCHS will perform approximately 4,886 hours of service work.


Sacred Heart Cathedral School

Sacred Heart Cathedral School, 711 Northshore Drive, Knoxville, will present its Christmas Concert on Thursday, Dec. 13. Kindergarten, first and second grades will present “Angels, Lambs, Ladybugs and Fireflies” beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the gym at Sacred Heart. That program will be followed by “On Our Way to Bethlehem,” presented by the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. They will be joined by the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade Praise Band Jams and the seventh- and eighth-grade Liturgical Choir Rocks.

Mary Beth Townsend serves as musical director for both programs.

SHCS will also host its Preschool Christmas program at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, in the school’s gymnasium. Each homeroom will have a special Christmas service project.

SHCS also helped to provide Thanksgiving meals to the poor via the Ladies of Charity Food Pantry. Each class was responsible for a particular food item.

Christmas is also celebrated with different class activities at Sacred Heart. Each kindergarten class chose a stewardship activity to do during the SHC Christmas party. First grade will be doing a mission project in December for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. School families will purchase books for the hospital, and SHC teachers will deliver them the last week of school before Christmas break.

Second grade will make Christmas cards and wreaths for an assisted-living home, and third grade will collect money, food and blankets for the animals at Young Williams Animal Shelter. They will also make cards for shut-ins of the diocese. Fifth-graders will be making cards for the military, and sixth-graders will make scarves for the homeless.


St. Joseph School

St. Joseph School, 1810 Howard Drive, Knoxville, will present The Little Drummer Boy at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at the school. Students have been working on this program for several weeks in their music classes.

SJS will also host Family Faith Night for its school families Wednesday, Dec. 19. Advent activities, hot chocolate and goodies will be followed by Christmas caroling, said Principal Sister Mary Elizabeth Ann McCullough, RSM.

“We will be collecting toys for children in Appalachia as well as taking care of some of our own local families,” she said.

SJS students will also be having a baby shower in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Sister Mary Elizabeth Ann said since the children will be preparing to celebrate his birth, “students will be asked to bring in designated gifts for babies that will go to the Pregnancy Help Center.”

She said, “We have a list of items that there is a particular need for that we will divide and share with each of the classes. This project is also a way we can support the choice for life.”


St. John Neumann Catholic School

St. John Neumann School, 625 St. John Court, Farragut, will present The Christmas Shoe Tree at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19, at the school. The musical was created by Jeff Slaughter.

“This Christmas production will involve students in grades K-5 and will be supported by music from our middle school band made up of 22 students in grades 5-8. At the center of the message in the music is the idea of giving to those in need,” said SJNS assistant principal Mary Sue Kosky.

The children at SJNS will sponsor a Christmas Stocking Collection.

“The Sewing Ladies of Concord Hills create beautifully embroidered handmade stockings for the students to fill,” said Ms. Kosky. Seventy-five stockings are filled and donated to residents of Samaritan Place.

SJNS students will also be collecting gently used and new shoes to be donated to Soles4Souls. Ms. Kosky said that Soles4Souls has distributed more than 19 million pairs of shoes to countries around the world.

“At SJNS, we hope to spread the Christmas message of love beyond the walls of our church and school,” she said.


St. Mary School, Oak Ridge

In the neighboring city of Oak Ridge, St Mary School, 323 Vermont Ave., will host an annual Family Advent Mass on Thursday, Dec. 20. Bishop Richard F. Stika will be the main celebrant. The Mass will feature a prelude of Advent choral music performed by the students and directed by Carol Villaverde, music teacher at St. Mary.

“The pieces will include hymns both familiar and new, and several of the songs will feature combined grades, middle school students with their younger buddies, and the Crusader Ensemble,” said principal Sister Andrea Marie Graham, OP.

The Home and School Association will sponsor a reception following the Mass.

Students at St. Mary will be hard at work this season participating in one of three service projects: the Giving Tree/Crazy Quilt Friendship Center, Family Adoption, or the orchestra and ensemble performance at Briarcliff Health Care Center.

“Every year St. Mary’s School eighth-graders make ornaments with the names and ages of needy children from the Jellico area of northeast Tennessee and ask that school and parish families take one ornament from either tree and purchase an appropriate gift for that child. About 600 children benefit from this project, and St. Mary’s is the main supplier of these gifts—the only gift most of these children will receive,” said Sister Andrea Marie.

These gifts are given during a Christmas party sponsored and hosted by the Crazy Quilt Friendship Center in Newcomb. SMS eighth-graders are scheduled to deliver these gifts to the center on Wednesday, Dec. 5.

The Family Adoption entails sixth- and seventh-grade students, along with first-grade and kindergarten children, in sponsoring two needy families from St. Mary Church.

“Not only do students have the joy of giving their time and treasure, they also put their budgeting skills to work as they determine how best to spend the money they have for the needs of each family,” said Sister Andrea Marie.

Orchestra and ensemble students from St. Mary will perform at Briarcliff Health Care Center two times in December.

Students from St. Mary also participate in the annual Fantasy of Trees event benefiting East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

“Two teacher-sponsored clubs at St. Mary’s School—the Fantasy of Trees club and Gingerbread House club—create student-designed and constructed items for this event. Last year’s tree was the ‘Farmyard Country Christmas Tree,’ complete with a menagerie of cows, horses, pigs, sheep, chickens — and a red barn tree topper. In keeping with the event theme of ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,’ the school’s gingerbread ‘Brenda Lee’s Diner’ won a blue ribbon in the amateur division. A St. Mary’s family purchased the tree, which was then donated to the Crazy Quilt Friendship Center,” said Sister Andrea Marie.


Notre Dame High School

In Chattanooga, Notre Dame High School, 2701 Vermont Ave., will bring in the Christmas season with its Christmas Band Concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the school.

Notre Dame High School students will be collecting canned goods for the Chattanooga Food Bank and monetary donations for the Ladies of Charity. They will also have an Angel Tree with names from the Clifton Hills Head Start program.

“Both service learning and leadership classes are working in groups to organize service projects for their semester one projects. Besides the Angel Tree project, other projects include organizing a bake sale to raise money for Heifer International, throwing a party for the kids at Kandy Kastle after-school program, organizing a diaper drive for Catholic Charities’ Pregnancy Help Center and the Children’s Home/Chambliss Shelter, baking cookies for an assisted-living center, and organizing a drive for dog treats and old towels for the Humane Society,” said Gayle Schoenborn, director of communications at NDHS.


St. Jude School

An annual Christmas Pageant will be presented by St. Jude School, 930 Ashland Terrace, Chattanooga, at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12, at St. Jude Church. Students from the first and second grades will perform. The story was written by the late Janet Wendell, a former religion teacher at the school. It will be directed by Katie Leahy.

Students playing the roles of shepherds, angels and animals are expected to perform Silent Night.

St. Jude School will focus its efforts on a Christmas service project to benefit its sister parish in Gros-Morne, Haiti.

“Each class will choose a specific project to provide help in Haiti in the areas of education, hunger, health or agriculture. Projects include buying books, donating hens, providing medicine and providing a donkey for transportation,” said Kathleen Etherton, director of development and clinic manager at St. Jude School.


Our Lady of Perpetual Help School

Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, 505 S. Moore Road, Chattanooga, will perform its Christmas program, Peace on Earth, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, at the school.

According to OLPH music teacher Angie Carson, the program is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in song. She said students in kindergarten through eighth grade will sing carols from around the world: Hawaii, France, England and Ireland. A version of Silent Night, originally a German carol, will be performed in Spanish. The preschool students will sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus.

OLPH plans to hold a virtue Mass on Friday, Dec. 7. Throughout the year, the school focuses on one virtue per month. The virtue for December is generosity.

As a school-wide service project, students will choose 27 names from the Catholic Charities Angel Tree. These names are of individuals enrolled in the residential HIV/AIDS program at The Home Place.


St. Dominic School

In Kingsport, St. Dominic School, 1474 E. Center St., will present its annual Christmas program at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, in the school gym.

“There will be songs by children in grades K-5. The upperclassmen will play hand bells and percussion instruments as well as recorders. Their wonderful voices and musical talent get everyone in the Christmas spirit,” said St. Dominic secretary Mary Jo McCarty.

The children of St. Dominic School will perform their service project together Monday, Dec. 10.

“They will be traveling to George Washington School Apartments to spend the day with the elderly residents,” said Ms. McCarty. “The children will be Christmas caroling through the halls. They will also spend time making a Christmas craft and decorate Christmas cookies with the residents. When the children leave they will each give a resident a Christmas ornament they have made special for them. It will be a day of spreading Christmas spirit to some who get very little, a good lesson of giving for our students.”

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