Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Four-year-old Martel Woods chases Nick Freehling during a game of duck, duck, goose while Jemima Victor, from left, Brian Johnson, 4, Kvian Smith, 4, Olivia Noe and Riley Adams, 4, watch Thursday at Holy Family Early Learning Center. Freehling, Victor and Noe are among the 23 Boston College students who visited Natchez for the school’s annual service trip.
Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Four-year-old Martel Woods chases Nick Freehling during a game of duck, duck, goose while Jemima Victor, from left, Brian Johnson, 4, Kvian Smith, 4, Olivia Noe and Riley Adams, 4, watch Thursday at Holy Family Early Learning Center. Freehling, Victor and Noe are among the 23 Boston College students who visited Natchez for the school’s annual service trip.

College students give back to school during spring break

Published 12:01am Friday, March 7, 2014

NATCHEZ — Students from Boston College traded in their spring break vacation days for paintbrushes and children’s books at Holy Family Catholic School this week.

Twenty three Boston College students traveled by bus to Holy Family Catholic School as part of the college’s annual service trip.

The students were in Natchez for a couple of days during their spring break and spent Thursday morning helping the children at Holy Family with their lessons and playing games before heading back to Massachusetts.

Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat —  Boston College senior Susana Benitez listens to six-year-old Jayla Blanton read aloud while Jayda Myles, 6, continues to work.
Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Boston College senior Susana Benitez listens to six-year-old Jayla Blanton read aloud while Jayda Myles, 6, continues to work.

Sister Bernadette McNamara said the college’s annual trip to the school is the most exciting time of year for the children at Holy Family.

“The children love it, they look forward to it every year,” she said. “The students are in the cafeteria in the morning when the children come in, and their faces just light up.”

The college students were a big help during their trip, McNamara said, as they painted classrooms, cleaned, as well as worked on reading skills and did art projects with the children.

“I really cannot say enough to praise them, because they are so wonderful,” McNamara said. “They could be in Cancun sunning themselves, but they chose to be here.”

BC junior Jocelyn Lividini said Holy Family truly is a family.

“I think it’s said in their name — it’s really a family here,” she said. “I feel like the teachers take their work home with them and are always with their kids. Some teachers aren’t like that. The teachers here always call the kids their babies, and it’s because they truly believe they’re family.”

Sophomore Annie Kate Joyce said Boston College has been welcomed with open arms into that family.

“Holy Family welcomes you like a family, even if it’s your first day here or you’ve been here before, they automatically welcome you,” she said.

Freshman Andrew Craig said he feels fortunate to be able to help out at Holy Family and interact with such bright students.

“I feel very honored to be able to come here and work here and see (the children) grow and see their thirst for knowledge,” Craig said.

The majority of the BC students who visited Natchez are majoring in education, and junior Megan Doeg said Holy Family’s teachers and students have inspired her.

“It makes you feel inspired to see the teacher’s work so hard with the kids,” Doeg said. “They just inspire you to do your best and be the best person you can be.”

Junior Jemima Victor said the standards for the children are set high at Holy Family and said she has been impressed with the children’s skills and learning.

Junior Nick Leal said the impression Holy Family has made on him will be a lasting memory.

“When you see the smiles on the children’s faces, I think that’s the greatest feeling,” Leal said.

The students who participated in the trip are Marika Hyland, Andrew Craig, Jemima Victor, Olivia Noe, Jocelyn Lividini, Nzinga Moore, Anne Mok, Catherine Gizelis, Stephanie DeOliviera, Nick Leal, Kevin Toro, Samantha Ford, Cara McPhillips, Nick Freehling, Susana Benitez, Kelly Bower, Colleen Hughes, Amy Chapelhow, Annie Kate Joyce, Caroline Davis, Megan Doeg, Emma Swayze and Mary Kate Conway.