Bright Future: Students learn meaning of season

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, December 20, 2017

NATCHEZ — A group of Cathedral School students recently learned sharing the Christmas spirit does not require big boxes, shiny wrapping paper and colorful bows.

The Christmas spirit can come in the form of an unexpected card and a simple hand-written greeting.

Inspired by St. Mary Basilica’s efforts during the Advent season to “Walk in the Christmas Spirit,”  Cathedral sixth-grade teacher Jennifer Haile decided to do something different when it came to teaching her students about the meaning of the season.

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Haile had all of her students bring in their favorite Christmas cards to send to family, friends and other as a simple act of kindness — a gift for the holiday season.

“We talked about who would we send cards to,” Haile said. “And as a class we decided to send them to people who support our school, to all of the staff members (at the school) and then to anyone else they wanted to send to who had an influence on their life.”

Haile said many of the students chose parents and grandparents.

“Some of them even chose celebrities, like Jimmy Fallon,” Haile said. “We looked up the addresses and sent cards to whomever they wanted.”

For some of Haile’s students, the response was eye opening.

“My dad almost started crying,” Graci Gamberi said.

Marlie Hargon experienced a similar reaction from a friend at church who received a card.

“She helps with the children’s ministry. It started to make her cry,” Hargon said. “It made me feel awesome.”

Parker Maxwell said she sent a card to her piano teacher.

“She really liked the card and said she looks forward to getting one next Christmas.”

Haile said the project has helped her students realize the effect small acts of kindness can have every day.

“I think they now realize how a small thing like saying ‘Hello’ or ‘Merry Christmas’ can make a big difference,” Haile said. “I don’t think they realize that sending a small card can brighten one’s day.”

The project also gave Haile the opportunity to teach her students the basics of letter writing. The students learned how to address envelopes and the proper way to sign letters.

Haile said the students had fun and especially liked the personal connection the project offered that other community service projects do not offer sometimes.

“They especially liked the hands-on aspect of the project,” she said. “They had fun making people happy.”