Learning to use the gifts of God in the world

By Timothy Kubiak Saint Mary School, East Vineland 

I started at Saint Mary School in East Vineland, in pre-K 3 at age 3. I still attend Saint Mary School in eighth grade.

For about 86 percent of my life, I have attended a Catholic school. There are many different types of gifts, but I think that my gift of a Catholic education is unique. Most gifts are physical things that can be enjoyed or used in everyday life, and my Catholic education can do the same. Unlike most regular gifts, however, my Catholic education can never be taken away from me and will last a lifetime. I will attend a Catholic high school as well, which definitely shows commitment to the ideal's learned and practiced in the first major stage of my life. At my school, service is expected in everyday life. We have had multiple school-wide service projects. In one instance, my class collected and folded plastic bags in preparation for weaving them into mattresses for the homeless. As an officer of the Saint Mary School chapter of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS), I schedule and attend many events at the nearby nursing home, Bishop McCarthy. All NJHS members play bingo with the residents of Bishop McCarthy nursing home once a month on Saturdays. This was a unique experience, and it made me feel full and satisfied. I made people who may not have had much light in their life happy. It also gave me true joy by doing the same for others. The other NJHS officers and I handed out Christmas cards created by each and every Saint Mary student during the Christmas school-wide service project at Bishop McCarthy to brighten the residents’ Christmas. All NJHS members also participate in homework club, a weekly program to tutor pupils in younger grades with their homework and studies every week. Every student in seventh and eighth grade has a buddy in either kindergarten or first grade whom we mentor. The buddies meet one or two times a month. Together, we complete holiday crafts and read stories. Last year, when I was in seventh grade, the seventh and eighth graders took a trip to a Catholic school in Atlantic City for a day. There, we paired up with a child in the elementary grades for a day. We read books together, completed school work with each other, and even ate lunch and had recess together. This was one of my favorite experiences at St. Mary School. I have tutored three of my classmates in math, social studies, and science during study hall and after school. I was given the gift of intelligence by God, and I want to share that with my schoolmates. My Catholic school is a great environment for the success of children. Our teachers are so committed to their ministry, not just jobs. In literature class, the eighth grade read an excerpt from ”The Diary of Anne Frank.” Her family and she had to stay silent and perfectly still for days at a time. One day, when we came into Mr. Harris’s classroom, we were told to sit at our desks silently and very still for 20 minutes. This was not an easy task. I enjoyed this experience because I truly understood what we were learning, and it stimulated my brain to realize what it was like for Anne Frank and the others in that attic. In third grade, our class had Titanic Day, in which we dressed up like notable passengers on that iconic ship and spent a day like them. Mrs. Myerson truly brought history to life on Titanic Day, and it was not only informative, but it was fun. We have religion class every day, and we attend Mass three times a month, which centers us. I am immensely thankful for my Catholic education, and I will remember how special it was. I was given a deluge of opportunities in Catholic school to succeed, and I will never forget them. I know my teachers on a cordial level, as well as the rest of the staff. My Catholic education enriched my life, and I was taught how to use the gifts of God in the world. Although I will be leaving Saint Mary School next year, I will surely give back, for I have received the gift of a lifetime. My Catholic education can never be taken away from me.