While most view Halloween as a secular holiday, at St. Agnes, we use “All Hallows Eve” as an opportunity to share the Light of Christ with the residents at Frederick Villa Nursing Care Center. “Hallo-Giving” (as well call this day) is a special occasion where all 200 BEARS parade in costumes to share a bit of joy with our local neighbors. This wonderful event began with an uncommon pumpkin patch. Even though this year’s torrential rain storms and flooding rationed the availability of a bountiful harvest of pumpkins, St. Agnes School would not be deterred. Instead of placing traditional jack-o-lanterns in our pumpkin patch, our prayer partner classes visited a hay patch with slightly concealed orange construction paper cards with the image of pumpkin placed upon the card. Together our younger and older prayer partner students decorated their pumpkin cards and then later that day presented them to the residents as our parade made its way through the hallways of Frederick Villa. It was difficult to tell who had the bigger smile on Halloween - this special group of senior citizens or the kindhearted students from St. Agnes. Either way, the smiles from both groups was priceless.
I tend to believe that events like our “Hallo-Giving” parade project provide a glimpse into the impressive program that we have developed at St. Agnes. Families are drawn to the unique spirit, rich diversity and strength of program which exists in our school. To this point, this past week we welcomed three students to St. Agnes. One was a former BEAR who returned to the “DEN” after a few years away. As the family shared, the safe environment, the small class sizes and the commitment to developing the whole student (faith, strong academics and a focus on Christian service), precipitated the return. The other two students who arrived to us through providential destiny. The other family was new to the area as they had recently relocated to Baltimore from a small town in Brazil. As they passed by our beloved church one recent day, the family decided to pay a visit to St. Agnes School. On a day when the teachers were attending an off-campus professional development workshop, our newest family was joyfully greeted by our ever welcoming Office Manager, Clemmy Smith. After this initial meeting, the family felt the movements of the Holy Spirit at work and decided to return when school was back in session. After that visit, they knew that they had found a school home for their young children. A home where the presence of faith fills our classrooms. A home where students are inspired by a hands-on, minds-on instructional approach to learning. A home where direct service to the marginalized residents in the Catonsville area is not only an ad-on activity but an integral component to our educational program. A home where students are guided by faith to become leaders of virtue. And a home where our young people and their families feel the welcoming warmth of a school grounded and sustained by our Gospel values.