Publishing book enables students to honor saints, hone many skills
By Mary Stadnyk | Trenton Monitor Associate Editor
The third grade class in St. Jerome School found a creative way to combine their studies on the saints of the Church and learn some of the ins and outs of the publishing world.
They did this by publishing a book on the saints of their own.
The ambitious endeavor to publish “Third Grade’s Book of Saints” began in November when the 21 students in the West Long Branch School and their teacher, Cathy Longano, set out to create a project that would honor the lives and good works of all saints that had ever lived.
With the celebration of the Feast of All Saints in November and based on class discussions on the saints, Longano said she thought the idea of publishing a book “would be an excellent opportunity to honor our religion and to specifically honor the saints, all of whom are excellent role models for today’s youth.”
“The students really admire the saints’ love and devotion to God,” Longano said, “and in addition to the religious aspect, I felt it would be an excellent opportunity to integrate several subjects and concepts” including writing, research, communication and presentation skills into one project.
Two of the saints featured in the book, Longano noted were St. Jerome, “for obvious reasons,” and St. Lucy Filippini “because she is the founder of the order of Sisters” who staff the school.
“Because we are all a part of the St. Jerome community, I felt compelled to respect and honor” St. Jerome and St. Lucy Filippini them through the book, Longano said. “Both of these saints have an immense influence on our school.”
Other saints the book highlights include Sts. Therese of Lisieux, Anthony of Padua, Patrick, Joseph and Veronica “because their names are so well known, but many don’t know much about them and their lives,” Longano said, adding that the book includes information about the saint’s birthplace, accomplishments, events that occurred in their life, when they died and the purpose or cause for which they are a patron saint.
Upon the official publication of the book, the class celebrated their accomplishment with a book signing at the end of February. In the presence of their parents, relatives and friends who “came to share in the excitement,” Logano said, the young authors presented their readings on their chosen saint. All rejoiced when it was divulged that the class decided to dedicate the book to Filippini Sister Angelina Pelliccia, school principal, for her “devotion and commitment to her faith and to St. Jerome School.”
Upon receiving her copy of the book, Sister Angelina observed that the third graders “went above and beyond the usual saint report because the students had to use research, artistic and presentation skills and their knowledge of technology to complete the project.”
“It gave the students the opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of the authors they read and teach their parents something new about God’s chosen examples in faith,” said Sister Angelina.
“Without realizing it, the audience was being evangelized,” she said.
For the young authors, the appreciation of all that went into publishing their book extended beyond their just learning various factoids and statistics. The students drew their own conclusions about what it means to be a saint.
After telling how interesting it was to learn that St. Gregory the Great is one of the deacons of Rome and that his mother was St. Silvia, Ryan Sexton said that “being a saint means being a hero that has courage like Jesus.’
Julia Martin, who studied St. Francis of Assisi, enjoyed the book signing the most because she felt like a “famous author” then noted that she hopes to be an author when she gets older.
Martin described a saint as being a “notch below God” and someone she would want to emulate.
“Being a saint means being responsible, kind and respectful,” said Daniel Scott, citing tidbits on St. Veronica, whose feast day is July 12 and that she is the patron saint of photography. He also pointed out that the veil that Veronica used to wipe the face of Jesus is archived in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
After sharing her fascination about St. Dominic’s being born in Spain and is the patron saint of astronomers, Lilliana McLaughlin said what she enjoyed most about the book project was providing a “drawing” to accompany her text.
“I got to show my talent of drawing,” said McLaughlin, who then added that what she believes being a saint means is “following Jesus and praying to God.”