Wherever students were Friday at Trinity Lutheran High School, it was all about “Mercy forever.”
Following a convocation led by Lutheran entertainer Jeffrey Meinz, more than 750 fourth- through 12th-graders spread throughout the Seymour school for a variety of activities.
In the foyer, eighth-graders and Trinity students painted a mural depicting the miracles of Jesus. That was mercy through the Scriptures.
In the gymnasium, seventh-graders and high-schoolers put together care boxes for the Pregnancy Care Center. They tied a ribbon around a pack of diapers or Pull-Ups and placed a tag with the Bible verse “Children are a gift of the Lord.” That was mercy to the world.
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Science teachers showed sixth-graders how to construct rockets powered by baking soda and vinegar. That was mercy to the planet.
Fifth-graders spent time with music teachers learning songs for a worship service. That was mercy through song.
Then out in the FFA building, Trinity students helped fourth-graders construct birdhouses to take home. That was mercy through mankind.
All of the activities brought an end to National Lutheran Schools Week, which was celebrated by more than 2,300 Lutheran schools. Schools converging on Trinity were Immanuel, St. John’s Sauers and Lutheran Central, all in Jackson County, and St. Peter’s and St. John’s White Creek, both in Bartholomew County.
Bringing flock together
“It gives our students an opportunity to share the excitement that we have at Trinity,” said Michelle Bauman, a teacher and recruitment director at Trinity.
“It also just brings all of our Lutheran schools together,” she said. “A lot of our students in different schools, they don’t know each other. But this gives them an opportunity to worship together, to have fun together and to really rejoice in the fact that we have so many opportunities for Lutheran education.”
Trinity Lutheran Principal Dan Sievert said it was great to see the school’s bleachers full of kids.
“Lutheran schools are unique in the fact that we can talk spiritually 180 days of the year,” he said. “This week is a week where we celebrate the numbers that we exist throughout the nation and the brothers and sisters in Christ we have.”
Immanuel eighth-grader Emilee Lang was among the group painting the mural. It was divided into triangular-shaped sections that were carried down to the gymnasium and put together for chapel. Afterwards, each school took a piece of it to hang up in their building.
“I thought it was pretty cool interacting with people from other schools because I didn’t really know them, and now I do,” Lang said. “I think it’s important because we get to all come together and do activities to learn about God and get closer as friends.”
Learning to lead
In the FFA building, the sound of hammers hitting nails echoed as birdhouses were constructed.
FFA adviser and agriculture teacher Bryan Schroer said this was the second year for that activity, which consisted of nearly 140 kids.
“This building was new last year, so we thought we should be able to do something out here, and we did the birdhouses, and it has gone well,” he said.
His students spent the past couple of weeks cutting wood and drilling holes. On Friday, they let the fourth-graders assemble the wood pieces and nail them together.
“This gives them a good thing to get their hands on doing something, and as far as I could tell, all of them had a good time doing it,” Schroer said. “It helps show the fourth-graders what the kids at Trinity are doing. It gives them an opportunity to see how the high school kids are working and interacting.”
Senior Clayton Terry said he liked helping younger children.
“Some of them didn’t know what they were doing, but then they got the hang of it,” he said. “It was neat to see them all come together and do it. They get to see the finished project and what it is whenever you work together with people.”
Terry said it was good leadership experience for him and the other high school students.
“I feel like (the younger kids) look up to us. It’s just that feeling of being a leader,” he said.
Maddy Hackman, a fourth-grader at Lutheran Central in Brownstown, said it was fun to make her own birdhouse. She plans on painting it red and white for her favorite team, the Indiana Hoosiers.
“I was looking forward to making a birdhouse and having fun and going to chapel,” she said of Friday’s activities. “It’s a good thing to work together and worship together.”
Bauman and Sievert both were impressed with how the high-schoolers worked with the elementary and middle school students.
“It’s formative to be able to interact with those younger than you and to be able to lead them in an activity,” Bauman said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for them to form some of those leadership skills.”
Sievert said he is amazed at the leadership and maturity his students show to guests in the building.
“That’s one of the things we try and develop in them is the leadership skills that will serve them well in life,” he said. “They do a wonderful job. Everything is so organized. Everybody is where they need to be, and they really serve as excellent mentors for these younger students.”
Bauman said it’s also a great opportunity for them to share their faith.
“Our students are unique in that they have faith, and they rejoice in that faith and want to share that faith,” she said. “They get the opportunity to do it, and it’s neat to see.”
As the kids carry on in life, Bauman said she hopes the kids keep the week’s theme in mind.
“I hope that they remember that their God is full of mercy and love and that we as Christians then are to show mercy to the world,” she said. “We are to be carriers of that mercy into the world.”
Catholic schools celebrate, too
Lutheran students weren’t the only ones celebrating last week. It also was National Catholic Schools Week.
St. Ambrose Catholic School in Seymour conducted a variety of activities and had themed dress-up days, organized by teachers Sharon Eggers and Angie Craig.
The week started with a scavenger hunt and students completing different missions in the community. Then on Tuesday, they went to different locations in Seymour and Indianapolis and volunteered.
Wednesday had a Hawaiian theme and consisted of a luau sock hop, while Thursday was career day and featured seven guest speakers talking about what they do in their jobs.
The week ended Friday with alumni day. St. Ambrose alumnus Anne Taube spoke about the Catholic summer camp in Nashville where she works, and then the eighth-graders battled alumni in a volleyball game.