St. Leo Catholic School held a special Mass to celebrate All Saints’ Day on Wednesday, November 1. A special feature of the celebration involved a student from each class portraying saint, providing a wonderful teaching opportunity for the entire parish.
“This is St. Leo School’s classical curriculum in action,” said Elk County Catholic School System president Sam MacDonald. “People in education use buzzwords all the time like ‘project-based learning,’ but this goes way beyond that. The teachers here are amazing. They put in extra effort to make these fabulous costumes, but that was just the beginning. There were history lessons about the lives of these saints, showing students how Christianity has had an unparalleled influence on our history and culture.”
Fr. Justin Pino took things a step further by crafting his homily around the project at Mass, calling each of the “saints” forward to discuss why we honor them. There were familiar faces such as St. Patrick, and newer ones such as St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Teresa of Calcutta. Fr. Justin took a special interest in the eighth grade, which was representing St. Leo Magnus, the patron saint of the parish.
“I helped design his costume,” Pino said. “I like the idea of doing this every year and selecting a boy from eighth grade to stand in for St. Leo as a special honor.”
“We are lucky to have Fr. Justin,” MacDonald said. “He takes a special interest in the school. He visits almost every day, and he knows students by name. People might not know this, but before coming to us he was a teacher at Venango Catholic, and a really good one. We are blessed to have his constant presence in St. Leo School, especially on days like today.”
“When people ask me why Catholic education matters, I point to projects like this,” said St. Leo principal Monica Schloder. “We can do things other schools can’t. There’s the intellectual history lesson involved with who these saints were and what they did, but at a classical Catholic academy, our great teachers add to that by getting the students emotionally invested in these stories, to feel them. And then we combine that with the sanctity of the Mass, on a Holy Day, and share that with our parish. I am extremely proud of our kids, our faculty, our families, and our church.”