St. Catharine STREAMS forth with cathedrals

By EmmaLee Italia | Correspondent

STREAMING HISTORY • Sixth graders in St. Catharine School, Spring Lake, proudly display their STREAM projects of famous cathedral models. Here a group shows their creation of St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, which the students had gifted to Cathedral rector, Msgr. Joseph Roldan, and parochial vicar, Father Neiser Cardenas. Mike Ehrmann photo

Pulling from all aspects of STREAMS education (science, technology, religion, engineering and English, art, math and social studies), sixth-graders in St. Catharine School, Spring Lake, recently built models of 10 famous cathedrals around the world – including the Diocese’s St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.

PHOTO GALLERY: Students create replica cathedrals as part of STREAM education

The collaborative project culminated in a trip to the Cathedral, where following Mass, the students presented their model to celebrant Father Neiser Cardenas, parochial vicar, and Msgr. Joseph Roldan, rector, who thanked them graciously and gave them a special blessing.

Other cathedrals modeled were St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York; Notre Dame, Paris; Basilica of Our Lady of Dolours, India; St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice; Cologne Cathedral, Germany; St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City; Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Australia, and Chartres, France.

“The project reflected true understanding of the religious, historical, architectural and cultural importance of the cathedrals, while exploring the design and engineering skills necessary in today’s world,” said Mercy Sister Carole MacKenthun, sixth- and seventh-grade religion teacher.

While sixth-grade teachers were discerning an interdisciplinary project, science teacher JoAnn Lagnese came up with the idea for the cathedral models.

“Since we are a Catholic school, we think that it is important not just to be known as a STEM school, but to expand the project into the areas of religion and arts,” Sister Carole explained. “Karen Massamillo, our art teacher, and I worked in tandem to teach about the stained glass windows. We also added an extra ‘s’ for social studies.

“In religion, the students learned the history of each cathedral and researched the stained glass windows of the cathedrals utilizing online resources,” she continued. The students watched beams of sunlight passing through the colored glass with virtual tours. After studying the history of stained glass use, they created individual stained glass window projects in art class.

“Students built to scale their cathedral models in science class,” said Lagnese. “[They] first researched the building materials [of] actual cathedrals … after learning how to measure to scale in math class [led by math teacher Rob Auletti], they learned how to design and engineer a model, first creating a blueprint and then meticulously building in groups of four.”

A descriptive essay assignment in language arts class, taught by Avita Kennedy, incorporated words associated with cathedrals, while in social studies with teacher Alexis Kleinman, students learned the geography and culture of the city and country of each cathedral, creating collaborative newsletters to reflect their research.

Sixth-grader Claire White thought the cathedral project was significant because “it taught us about the history of the Catholic Church … how it developed, the different styles and architecture … every cathedral was diverse.”

White worked on the diocesan cathedral model and learned how the original structure burned down and was replaced by the current building. She enjoyed the building experience, adding that she would happily do the project again.

“Every group member contributed, and everyone had to be creative. It consisted of every subject in school, and was a fun learning experience,” she said.

Classmate Reid Matuch believed the project helped students to learn more about cathedral history and how the Church developed over the years. “I found it interesting … finding out [about] the region of where the cathedral is located,” he explained.

Matuch, who also worked on the St. Mary’s Cathedral model, noted that he learned “the bronze doors of St. Mary’s were still the same from [before] the fire, and put back on the front.”

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