St. Mary’s celebrates service

Krystle Wagner • Feb 2, 2016 at 2:00 PM

SPRING LAKE — St. Mary’s students welcomed the community into their Spring Lake school on Monday morning.

The Catholic school celebrated community members — from military veterans to police officers and firefighters to retired teachers.

The school is observing National Catholic Schools Week all this week with the theme, “Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” Principal Steve VanHammen explained the week is set aside each year to celebrate Catholic schools and the people part of the community.

Today, the school will celebrate students with an afternoon of bowling at Starlite Lanes in Grand Haven. Later this week, staff and volunteers will be celebrated. On Thursday, staff and students will participate in a schoolwide rosary to pray for current and future vocations.

As community members visited the school on Monday, fifth-graders decorated paper bags to donate to the Kids’ Food Basket.

Clare Stempky, 10, said the week is a good time to show support for Catholic schools and to learn more about people in the community.

The week also provides students with the opportunity to participate in fun activities, said fifth-grader Carrie Ladd.

“It’s fun to give back to the community,” she said.

After hearing about the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department, kindergartners and first-graders performed two songs for their special guests.

Bill Bernesser, who served in the U.S. Air Force for 23 years, said the dedication to celebrating and showing appreciation for different groups throughout the week helps students develop a sense of service. Bernesser said he attended Monday’s open house at the request of his three grandchildren, who all attend St. Mary’s.

As the students finished singing, Maggie Cutler thanked them.

“Thank you for coming today, and thank you for being our friends,” she said.

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