Feb 1, 2013

Catholic school alumna makes special donation to St. Michael Academy



(Photos courtesy of St. Michael's Academy)

By Sharon Roulier

SPRINGFIELD – Hundreds of Catholic school children at St. Michael's Academy (SMA) are showing their pride for Catholic Schools Week with cards, a special Mass-- and special buttons.

The button, which reads "Catholic Schools Raise the Standards," has been a long-standing tradition at many Catholic schools since the weeklong celebration began in 1974. However, the buttons for students at St. Michael's were not in this year's budget.

A generous alumna of the former Holy Cross School in Springfield changed that situation.

Kerry Weber, associate editor of the New York City-based America magazine, learned that buttons were not part of the school's plan following a conversation with her sister, Elizabeth Weber Begley, director of advancement and admissions at SMA.

"Elizabeth and I were discussing Catholic Schools Week, and we fondly recalled the buttons we'd received as part of the celebration in grade school,” said Weber. “As a kid I always appreciated the sense of unity the buttons implied, although I don't know that I would have put it in those words at the time.

“I think I understood that the pins were something a lot of schools would have received and therefore were a small reminder that our school was part of a larger group of schools with a common mission and that that was something to be proud of,” said Weber in an interview with iobserve. “Also, I was probably just excited to be able to add something different to my uniform for a week."

She decided to surprise her sister and had more than 600 buttons sent to SMA.

Begley was delighted and excited about the donation. "My sister and I were just reminiscing about our days in Catholic schools, and I never expected that conversation to lead to such a sweet donation. St. Michael's Academy carries on the rich tradition of Catholic education in Springfield, so it's wonderful when an alumna of a heritage school, like Holy Cross, connects with SMA and supports the future of Catholic education, " said Begley.

The students, faculty and staff were excited to receive their buttons.

The theme printed on each button was appropriate for the mission of Catholic education, said Ann Dougal, principal of the SMA elementary campus.

“We try to do our very best and have our children do their very best,” she said. “We feel we raise those standards and educate children to be productive members of society.”

“If they call your number, you can win a prize,” explained Joe Crean, a fifth-grader, as he pointed to the number on the back of his button.

Students were encouraged to wear their buttons all week, and a raffle was held each day. Each pin had a number on it and that number was pulled for a small prize. The student had to be wearing the pin in order to win.