Strengthening Family Bonds

Recently, Butler Catholic School students had the opportunity through a computer research and art project to reflect on who they are not only as a student, but who they are as a member of their family, and most importantly who they are as a child of God.

Design and paint a family crest that represents you and your family. That was the assignment developed by Principal Sister John Ann in conjunction with seventh and eighth grade students.  She wanted students to engage with their parents, to discuss what makes their family unique and special.  “I wanted them to initiate a conversation, not telling them what to do, but think for themselves on how to create the signs and symbols that are most representative of their families.” The seventh and eighth grade students loved the idea, and asked Sister John Ann to extend the assignment to include fourth through sixth graders as well.  In school, the project began in computer class.  Students were asked to research their family lineage.  Where did their family come from outside the United States?  What colors or symbols could be used to best represent their family?  Students then designed their crest on the computer, and printed it as a template to use in art class for the second half of the project. Over the next few weeks, students refined their templates in art class, and began drawing and then painting their family crests onto beautiful wooden plaques donated to the school from a religious store that had closed due to the passing of the owner.  The assignment was especially important to 8th grader Mason Grenci.  It was his grandfather who had passed away, and his family who had donated the plaques to the school.  “It was already a Grenci plaque, but now it was going to be the Grenci crest.”  Mason painted a sword in the center of his crest to symbolize the strength of his family.  On either side of the sword he painted crosses to represent his family’s deep religious faith.  Stella Swason, another Butler Catholic 7th grader, decided to depict her family’s Swedish heritage.  She researched the Swanson family crest and painted it green and white to represent Sweden.  She then added the Penn State Nittany Lion to the center of the crest.  Stella said, “My dad went to Penn State, as well as my aunts and uncles.  I would like to go there too someday, so it was important to me to include it.”

At Butler Catholic School, engaging students with their families is a priority. We are a community of faith where teachers and parents partner together for the academic, spiritual and emotional growth of each child. Our goal is to work together to help students prepare to fulfill the calling God has for each of their own lives.  While many today tell young people to go out into the world to “find themselves,” here at Butler Catholic School our students are already grappling with their own identity in very creative and collaborative ways now, so they can go out into the world not searching for who they are, but serving as a reflection of Christ to others.