Students honor principal with ‘piggy party,’ special presentations

By EmmaLee Italia | Contributing Editor

Resurrection Sister Cherree Power was doubly surprised on Principal Appreciation Day. After a student recalled a story that Sister Cherree had shared about growing up on a farm that included a pig, she was delighted for two pigs to make a special visit to the school.

When students in St. Veronica School, Howell, wanted to show appreciation for their principal of 27 years, Resurrection Sister Cherree Power, they managed to do so with one of her favorite things – pigs.

“Every year they do something very nice, but this was unique, fun and special,” said Sister Cherree, who inspired the theme of Principal Appreciation Day Nov. 15 with a story from her childhood she relayed to students more than six years ago, about a pig on her family’s farm.

“It was so cool that the eighth-graders remembered [one of her stories] they connected with,” said eighthgrade teacher Linda Groh. The students hit upon the theme of pigs when brainstorming ideas for Principal Appreciation Day, recalling how Sister Cherree visited with “Stan” the pig after school each day as a first- and second-grader.

Prompted by the St. Veronica PTA and guidance counselor, the grades divided into groups to prepare various means of honoring their beloved principal, including songs, skits and poems, and the PTA planned refreshments.

As the eighth-grade students offered ideas for pig-themed decorations and stuffed animals, a Google-search revealed the possibility of a “piggy party” – in which live animals can be transported for a visit. At that moment, in walked classroom parent Elia Landino – who just happened to have a connection with a local animal farm, having assisted with a PTA-organized petting zoo in a previous year.

“We asked her, ‘Hey, can you get us pigs?’” Groh recalled. “It was very pricey, and we were trying to figure out how to make this happen.”

“The students really wanted to create a moment in time for Sister Cherree, which was beautiful,” Landino said. “I knew of a local farm that does [animal] parties, and there are pigs online that you can get as stress relievers for therapy.”

Eager to procure live animals, eighth-grade students carried out a bake sale to raise money for the pigs to visit.

“We told Sister Cherree we needed to raise money for the student council,” said eighth-grader Gia Landino, student council-principal liaison. “We sold snacks and cookies, and cream puffs filled with pink cream … only the eighth-graders knew [what the money was for].”

On Principal Appreciation Day, pre-K and younger grades sang special songs and recited poems for Sister Cherree, while the fourth and fifth grades built upon the school’s theme for the year, “Rejoice and Be Glad,” by focusing on the Beatitudes.

“Sister lives out the Beatitudes every day – so we all said something, and it was part of a skit,” fifth-grader Veronica Barten explained. “I think Sister Cherree is really nice and is a present to all of us. During Christmas … we get to come to her office and sit on the floor, and she tells us a story about when Jesus was born.”

No one was more surprised than Sister Cherree when, following the class presentations, eighth-grader and student council president Benjamin Chamberlin told the story of Stan the pig to the school.

“And then in came the pigs!” said Sister Cherree. “The woman [who cared for the pigs] asked me if I wanted to hold one. Then they were put into a pen where the kids could meet and pet them.”

Michelle Salvatore, fifth grade, said she enjoyed honoring Sister Cherree because “she’s like a second mother to us… She visits our classroom, and she always takes care of us and loves us.”

Sister Cherree was humbled and delighted by the students’ efforts.

“Each class made such a nice presentation … I feel spoiled,” she said in a thank you letter to parents, teachers and students. “Your efforts have touched me deeply, and I am very grateful.”

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