December 20, 2008
By Debbie Bruce
Pageant highlights diversity of students
There is a similar scene sweeping across schools in epidemic numbers this week, one that includes stars and holly cheerfully dangling from ceilings, poinsettias strategically covering any scuffs on gymnasium floors and the frenzied energy of flashes as proud parents scramble to capture the perfect photo op.
With a series of last minute adjustments to tinsel-laden wings and a few accidental bonkings of a shepherd’s staff connecting to a fellow classmate’s head, make no mistake: ‘Tis the season for school Christmas concerts and pageants.
Shepherd Montessori Private School was one of the many schools in Mississauga taking part in the tradition, as 80 students, ranging from age 2 to 11, regaled the packed house at St. Catherine of Siena Church Wednesday night. The play, which also included students from The Atrium, begin with the emerging of angels sprinkling the ‘holy ground’ with sparkles in preparation for the coming of Jesus.
Then, more than a dozen children, costumed in their own cultural attire to accentuate the differing heritages, paraded around a large wreath circled on the floor. According to Rocco Litrenta, 3, who was smartly dressed in a crisp white shirt in honour of his Italian roots, this part of the play symbolized, “That we are all brothers and sisters, we’re all one body of Christ.”
With a chorus of children singing the audience through the narrative, Gabriel brought a message to Mary, and then guides her and Joseph safely to the stable where they are eventually greeted by three wise men who are there to greet Jesus with their gifts. The 45-minute presentation went off without a hitch, save for a shepherd who had a penchant to break into air guitar and some skew-whiff wings hindering an angel’s graceful movement.
Rose Litrenta, who proudly watched her grandchildren perform what they had been practicing at home for a month, said, “It’s so emotional to see them all, especially at the end. It reminds you to open your heart to the season.”
Litrenta, whose grandchildren range in age from five to 10, has seen many renditions of this play, which has been performed every Christmas since 1988.
Adds Iolanda Rossi, whose grandson, Noah, 4, was a sheep, “It’s so cute to see them all, but they also learn so much from being a part of this.”
Miss D., directress of Shepherd Montessori, was proud of the effort put forth by the students saying, “You can’t help but notice how hard and diligent these children worked.”
DiMichele and her students have also been performing this play for the residents of Chelsey Park nursing home for the last 15 years.
“This year we received a standing ovation from Chelsey Park. Our children really felt they had brought some cheer to many people, and they were as proud of themselves as we were. They truly did a magnificent job.”
December 17, 2008 was a spectacular evening at Shepherd Montessori School. What made this a dazzling evening was not only the incredibly adorable children in their exquisite yet endearing costumes but it was the breath taking play that told the true meaning of Christmas.
The immensely talented choir was comprised of older students, while younger kids played the parts of Mary, Joseph, a shepherd and sheep, representatives from all over the world. Even the twelve days of Christmas was characterized by the kids.
The event was nothing short of a success. All the seats in the audience were filled with proud parents, family and friends; all with their cameras and camcorders capturing this very special and memorable “First Christmas.”
Salt & Light
During my retreat in January at the Monastery of the Precious Blood, my spiritual guide told me an anecdote. He went with a group to Manitoulin Island where they celebrated the Eucharist. He said he will never forget this line from the homily: “The Eucharist is God’s love made edible!”
I reflected on how God loves my humanity and how he wants me to know him through all the possible ways that I can obtain knowledge – through my senses. I can actually eat his flesh so that he can penetrate physically into my whole being! I can smell incense that reminds me of my worship of him. I can feel the oils of confirmation and anointing as God’s minister uses them on my hands and my forehead.
God reaches out to us, especially through the ministries within the parish church, the “central meeting place” by which he enters into our lives. In tonight’s Catholic Focus episode entitled “Touched by God” I explore just that.
One such ministry is the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program, within Shepherd Montessori PCS, a program of religious formation for children based on the Montessori method. If you ever want your heart to melt, go and visit any atrium of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, which is available in many parishes all over the world. You’ll see adorable little materials and things like a little altar, shelves with little chalices, little vestments, a floor with little chairs and little tables, little sheep for the story of the Good Shepherd. And these are all made by parishioners and other generous donors! The purpose of the atrium is to provide a retreat place for children from the early years all the way to adolescence, where they can feed on the Word and use the materials to explore and deepen their own religious experiences. I was able to go to St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Mississauga, Ontario and speak to the catechists there. Kathleen Ennis was visiting Shepherd Montessori School whom is the Coordinator of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for the Archdiocese of Toronto, shared her personal insight.
He’s smarter than the average 5th grader
Isiah Douglas (5th Grader). Isiah Douglas will appear on the Canadian version of the hit TV show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
September 26, 2007
One of Mississauga’s smart 5th graders has a tip for you on how to remember the five Great Lakes.
“You can remember (the great lakes) by spelling H.O.M.E.S.- Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior,” said Isiah Douglas.
The 10-year-old is one of seven 5th graders to star on five special episodes of the Canadian version of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, hosted by Colin Mochrie on Global TV this October.
Chosen by producers from more than 1,000 Grade 5 children in a national casting tour, Douglas and his “classmates” will help adult contestants willing to test their grade school knowledge for a shot at the $1 million dollar grand prize.
Douglas is excited about being a part of the show.
“I think it’s excellent and great experience and I’m so happy I made it because everyone is so nice,” said Douglas, who does his homework every day. “When I see people on TV, they look so happy, so I hope to have the same feeling.”
We are very proud and were ecstatic when Isiah’s mom called us with the news! Out 1,000, even out of 100,000 he would shine out above all! Way to go Isiah!
Shepherd Montessori Anniversary
If you happened to walk by the Shepherd Montessori and Atrium school on October 23rd, you would have been able to smell the BBQ cooking and the kids laughing and playing from far away. SNAP helped the school celebrate its 10th anniversary along with teachers and parents, as well as current students and alumni. The school is a great member of the community, and helps serve students from preschool to grade one. It was such a beautiful day, as what seemed like one big family got to celebrate the memories they made over the years and look forward to the ones that are on their way. By talking to a few parents, one really got the sense of what a great school this is. We hope that Shepherd keeps up the good work so that we will be able to cover many anniversaries to come.