News Sartell — 08 May 2014
Children lift hearts, instill pride on Grandparents’ Day

by Dennis Dalman

news@thenewsleaders.com

 

The afternoon was gloomy and nippy, but there was plenty of sunshine in the Gathering Place in Sartell – sunshine in the form of bright tuneful music and grandparents beaming with pride.

It was the annual “Grandparents’ Day” May 2 at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School. After a 1 p.m. Mass led by fourth-grade teacher Mary Winter and her students, all 212 students in the school (pre-K through 6) met in the Gathering Place to entertain their grandparents with song and dance.

At the front of the room, standing on risers, each grade sang a song. The songs ranged from humorous to serious, from Spanish to English, from playful to spiritual. One group played recorders to the tune of Shall We Gather at the River? Another group played tone chimes as they sang The Pretty Planet.

Enthralled by the music, so proud of their grandchildren, the audience burst into rounds of applause as each grade took its turn singing. The performances were energetically conducted by musical director Carolyn Yaggie-Heinen.

Two of the most colorful performances were given by six sixth-graders, who danced to two Spanish songs, one from northern Colombia in South America, the other from the mountainous Andes region of Colombia. The dances, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, were real crowd-pleasers – swirls of color, energy and intricate choreography. Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May in Spanish) is an annual holiday to celebrate Mexico’s history and heritage. It also commemorates May 5, 1862 when Mexican forces defeated the French in the Battle of Puebla in the state of Puebla in Mexico.

Those dances and some of the songs sung reflected the school’s semi-immersion Spanish program through which all teachers and staff are learning informal day-to-day Spanish, thanks to programs developed by Myriam Mansell, who was born and raised in northern Colombia and who retired from teaching at Cathedral High School a year ago before joining St. Francis Xavier Elementary School. She and the school’s new principal, Kathy Kockler, who is also a former Cathedral teacher, worked long and hard to implement the Spanish program. In the hallways, children often use greetings in Spanish, and they enjoy saying their luncheon prayers in Spanish.

Another highlight of the concert was when sixth-graders read advice given to them by their grandparents.

From Carol, Jacob Stolzenberg’s grandmother:

“Choose wisely, treat kindly.”

From Richard, Ricky Emslander’s grandfather:

“Never intentionally hurt anyone. Work hard and make your own way.”

From Ana Rose, Tricia Castro’s grandmother:

“Sleep well, eat well, be involved in physical activity and work within the community to feel self-fulfillment and to help make a better future.”

From Char, Elizabeth Hamak’s grandmother:

“Give back by being active in your community and church.”

From Karen, Shane Corbett’s grandmother:

“Enjoy everything you do.”

And from Corbett’s grandfather Louie:

“Be kind to everyone and you will be happy.”

From David, Tim Haas’s grandfather:

“Do the right thing. Always try to follow God’s and Jesus’s way they want you to live.”

From Judy, Frankie Tomczik’s grandmother:

“Treat people kindly, and try to learn something new every day.”

And from Tomczik’s grandmother Cindy:

“Try new things and be open to new ideas.”

From Nancy, Max Ehlen’s grandmother:

“Trust in God; live a clean, moral life; eat healthy and never stop learning.”

From Sandy, Emily Hansen’s grandmother:

“Be thankful for your blessings.”

After the musical performances, the students joined their grandparents for cookies, lemonade and lots of conversation and laughter.

Principal Kockler said “Grandparents’ Day” is just one example of the St. Francis Xavier mission, which is to bring everyone together for the sake of each and every student.

“We want to let parents and grandparents know what their children and grandchildren are doing,” she said. “It’s a way for them to be part of their lives. They love to see what’s going on with the grandchildren. And the children love to share their spirit of life, their love for each other and their love for music and dancing.”

Even during the Mass that preceded the program, there were readings and introductions by the students, as well as singing by them.

“There’s that cliché that it takes a village to raise a child,” Kockler said. “Well, this school is that village. It’s everyone working together – parents, grandparents, godparents, teachers, staff and friends – the entire community.”

[captionpix imgsrc="http://www.thenewsleaders.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/13935658700_047ccd41a3_z-300x225.jpg" captiontext="photo by Dennis Dalman St. Francis Xavier students perform a song-and-dance from the mountainous Andes region in South America. From left to right, clockwise, are Taylor Vos, Tricia Castro, Elizabeth Hamak, Tim Haas, Ricky Emslander and Frankie Tomczik. The dance was part of the entertainment provided for Grandparents’ Day at the school."]

photo by Dennis Dalman
St. Francis Xavier students perform a song-and-dance from the mountainous Andes region in South America. From left to right, clockwise, are Taylor Vos, Tricia Castro, Elizabeth Hamak, Tim Haas, Ricky Emslander and Frankie Tomczik. The dance was part of the entertainment provided for Grandparents’ Day at the school.

photo by Dennis Dalman
Swirls of motion abound in a song-and-dance from the northern area of Colombia in South America. The performers are (left to right) Tricia Castro, Ricky Emslander and Elizabeth Hamak.

photo by Dennis Dalman Musical director Carolyn Yaggie-Heinen leads students in a group song during Grandparents’ Day at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School.

photo by Dennis Dalman
Musical director Carolyn Yaggie-Heinen leads students in a group song during Grandparents’ Day at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School.

photo by Dennis Dalman The pre-kindergarten class sings a song called One Small Voice during Grandparents’ Day at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School.

photo by Dennis Dalman
The pre-kindergarten class sings a song called One Small Voice during Grandparents’ Day at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School.

photo by Dennis Dalman After Mass and a musical extravaganza, grandparents gather for cookies and lemonade in the Gathering Place at St. Francis Xavier Church in Sartell.

photo by Dennis Dalman
After Mass and a musical extravaganza, grandparents gather for cookies and lemonade in the Gathering Place at St. Francis Xavier Church in Sartell.

photo by Dennis Dalman Loralei Cmelik, daughter of Nathan and Jenica Cmelik of Sauk Rapids, has the undivided attention of  her grandparents, Robert and Linda Cmelik. The Cmeliks, from Waterloo, Iowa, enjoyed Grandparents’ Day May 2 at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School.

photo by Dennis Dalman
Loralei Cmelik, daughter of Jenica and Nathan Cmelik of Sauk Rapids, has the undivided attention of her grandparents, Robert and Linda Cmelik. The Cmeliks, from Waterloo, Iowa, enjoyed Grandparents’ Day May 2 at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School.

photo by Dennis Dalman Students at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School drew pictures of their grandparents to display during Grandparents’ Day May 2.

photo by Dennis Dalman
Students at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School drew pictures of their grandparents to display during Grandparents’ Day May 2.

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About Author

Dennis Dalman
Dennis Dalman

News@TheNewsleaders.com Editor I was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). I studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where I concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. I have been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.

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