by Moira Cullings
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — It was a first for Curé of Ars School in Leawood.
“Our group of eighth graders wanted to do something special that our previous graduating classes had never done before,” said principal Andrew Legler.
For years, the eighth grade class at Curé has raised money for a class gift.
Instead of giving theirs back to Curé, a longstanding tradition at the school, this year’s class went another direction.
“They knew they wanted to give back to the community somehow and became interested in helping Holy Name,” said Legler.
Curé of Ars and Holy Name in Kansas City, Kansas, have been sister parishes for more than a decade.
The students spent months fundraising through a car wash, running concessions and a dunk tank stand at the school carnival, and organizing restaurant nights for Curé families.
In the end, they raised enough money for a small gift for Curé, and a $5,000 donation for their friends at Holy Name of Jesus School.
“When I first received the email from [Legler about the gift], I was somewhat taken aback,” said Holy Name principal Randy Smith.
The unexpected gesture touched him deeply.
The school chose to use the donation to purchase a new set of chairs for the cafeteria, which is not only the lunchroom, but also where the students participate in art, music and sometimes physical education.
The space is also utilized by the parish for events, like funeral dinners.
A welcome visit
On March 7, the majority of Curé’s eighth graders spent their afternoon visiting Holy Name to present their donation.
Smith greeted the students at Holy Name Church, where he offered them a brief history of the parish before giving them a tour of the school.
The Holy Name students then joined them for a presentation, where Curé students Maura Maher and Ashley Myers showed off a giant check.
“I did tell our students that we were going to get a donation today,” Smith told those gathered. “I said if we got anywhere from a dollar to a thousand dollars, we’d be excited about that.
“But $5000 has totally blown me away.”
He wasn’t alone.
The Holy Name students couldn’t control their gasps and squeals when they saw the amount.
Gaby Aquino and Adan Lopez, members of the Holy Name leadership team, accepted the check.
“On behalf of the students of Holy Name, we thank you for your generosity and thoughtfulness,” said Aquino. “As an eighth grader myself, I understand the importance of helping others and our school. We’ll remember this gift for years to come.”
Lopez, a seventh grader, echoed the sentiment.
His dad and uncles attended Holy Name, and so have his own brothers and cousins.
“Your gift will not only allow us to enjoy the new chairs now,” said Lopez, “but my relatives, my classmates, our parish members and our future students will be thankful for this gift, too.”
For Maher and Myers, seeing the gratitude of the friends they helped confirmed their decision to give their class gift to Holy Name.
“We raised more than we thought we would, so everybody really wanted to donate money here,” said Maher.
Myers, like several of her peers, had visited the school once before for a service project.
“Over the summer, I came and cleaned up the gardens,” she said. “But it was really cool to be able to come here and see everyone, see the school and be able to give [the check] to them in person.”
Kristi Ernsting, a Curé parishioner and member of the Holy Name business team, was excited to be present for the check presentation.
“I think it’s a wonderful example of giving and thinking of others before yourselves,” she said, “and [for the students] to see the need in the Kansas City area when Curé families are really blessed.
“I’m just really impressed by their initiative and the way that they’ve set an example for giving. I hope that others in the community will do so, too.”
The experience was also moving for Angela Charles, whose twin boys are in Curé’s eighth grade class.
“As a parent sending your child to Catholic school, this is what you hope they walk away with — this sense of community and selfless giving,” she said.
“And it’s such a wonderful way to end their time at Curé with this kind gesture,” she added. “I am so proud of this group of kids.”
Charles was happy her boys were able to visit Holy Name in person and experience what life is like at a different school.
“I think it’s invaluable for them to see something outside of their bubble,” she said, “and see the rich history this parish has and what they’ve meant to the community.
“They have the power to impact and help the kids in their community.”