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Fairmont Catholic plants flags to honor veterans, commemorate Catholic Schools Week

Times West Virginian - 2/4/2021

Feb. 4—FAIRMONT — Last Sunday marked the start of Catholic Schools Week, which recognizes parochial schools across the country and allows students to take part in various community initiatives throughout the week.

On Wednesday, for example, students at Fairmont Catholic Grade School planted American flags along the school's walkway to honor military veterans.

"It's just a week to give back, to thank the people and show that community support, and instill in our kids values and respect," said Maika Merriman, president of the Fairmont Catholic Parent-Teacher Organization. "We do that for them to show that it is a blessing that they're here, and we want to develop them as a whole person."

The National Catholic Education Association started Catholic Schools Week in 1974 as a way to celebrate Catholic education across the country.

Each year has a different theme for Catholic Schools week, and every day of the week is meant to provide unique opportunities each school chooses, Merriman said. This year's theme is "Faith. Excellence. Service." and Merriman said it was easy to come up with activities for the students to participate in that would help them develop as people.

"Sunday was to celebrate our parishes. Monday was to celebrate our community, and we lit the way with luminaries outside. Yesterday was to celebrate our students, so the students went into the school and indicated why they liked that specific place in the school and what it meant to them. Today is celebrating our nation, so we wanted to honor veterans past and present," Merriman said.

Merriman said the school's second graders were the main target for the veteran's initiative, and they had the opportunity to search for a specific veteran to honor with their flag. If they did not have a specific veteran in mind, the flag would be symbolic of all military personnel.

Last year, the school involved members of the VFW in its celebration and although Merriman said the school could not do the same thing this year because of COVID, she believes it was still an important lesson to instill in the students.

"Last year instead of doing veterans for the nation, we had the local VFW come in, and they showed us the respect for the flag and how to fold it and properly respect it," Merriman said. "With coronavirus, there's some limitations with who can come in or not, but we wanted to do some hands-on activities so that the kids could still get involved. I feel like if they don't do it, they don't understand it."

Thursday's theme is "celebrate your vocation," Merriman said. Different community officials sent videos to the school, where they discuss their careers, ranging from a police officer to a dentist to the mayor of Fairmont.

"It gives the kids a sense that even whatever they pick to do in life, they do it to give back as a service," Merriman said.

Friday is appreciation for teachers and faculty of Fairmont Catholic, and Saturday is appreciation for the families of Fairmont Catholic. School Principal Diane Burnside said the schools' teachers instructed their students to prepare a care package to give to someone in the community, as a display of charity and generosity as part of the weeklong event.

"Every grade level had a responsibility," Burnside said. "So we had each of them either make a blessing bag or deliver or do something to show that it is Catholic Schools Week."

While Catholic Schools Week highlights different aspects of attending a Catholic school, Burnside said the ideas promoted throughout the week are lessons the school aims to teach its students throughout the year.

"It is Catholic Schools Week, but what we do we try to do all year long," Burnside said. "But this week's emphasis is on every day community caring, so we are going out and showing our gospel values in service to our community."

Email Eddie Trizzino at and follow him on Twitter at @eddietimeswv.


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