Pay it forward

Over the years, the class of 2012 of St. Joseph School in Shawnee saved more than $4,600, which it used to purchase a 600-pound bronze statue of St. Joseph for the main entryway of the school.
Over the years, the class of 2012 of St. Joseph School in Shawnee saved more than $4,600, which it used to purchase a 600-pound bronze statue of St. Joseph for the main entryway of the school.

Eighth-graders started saving in kindergarten for school gift


by Jessica Langdon
jessica.langdon@theleaven.org

SHAWNEE — Caroline Geither couldn’t imagine what the pocket change she carried into St. Joseph School here would ever buy.

Still, she dutifully donated her 50 cents as a kindergartner, dollar in first grade, two dollars in second, and so forth. She contributed her final $8 this year as an eighth-grader.

These small contributions — plus the compound interest on the fund — recently paid off in a big way.

After nine years and a few fundraisers along the way, these kids had saved more than $4,600.

That enabled the 67 members of the St. Joseph class of 2012 to give their school a 600-pound bronze statue of St. Joseph to stand outside the main entryway.

On March 19 — the feast day of St. Joseph — the whole school celebrated the blessing of the statue by pastor Father Mike Hawken.

St. Joseph’s current school building, explained principal Sue Carter, just opened in 2003. So from the beginning, it was planned that the very first class — this one of 2012 — would leave something special to the school.

When the kids reached middle school, it was put to a vote: Should the class purchase a crucifix for the commons, a smaller St. Joseph statue for inside the school, or a larger statue for the entryway?

The overwhelming majority decided on the larger statue for outside.

“I was excited to see how it would turn out, because in the slide show they showed us it just looked like a cartoon,” said Caroline. “I love how it came together, and it looks really good.”

Eighth-grader Max McAnany played a big role in enhancing the area where the statue would stand.

“To me and my parents, it’s always looked really bare during the winter and the fall after the roses and grass die off,” Max explained, describing the spot chosen for the statue.

So he asked if he could help with the pedestal, lighting and landscaping for his Eagle Scout project, and quickly got the green light.

Mason contractor Andy Kelley — a St. Joseph parishioner — advised him on the best materials to use. And parishioner Dusty Brown, an electrical contractor, also pitched in.

Their support made it possible to complete the pedestal and lighting without drawing from the eighth-graders’ fund.

Out of the money the eighth-graders had left, they presented a check for $2,800 to the Guardian Angel Fund, which will use it as tuition assistance in memory of two of their classmates’ loved ones — Anne Batliner, mother of Michelle Batliner, and Sarah Macy, younger sister of Isabelle Macy.

Even though the members of this class will be at several different schools next year, Caroline and Max know they’ll still see this statue and remember their time here.

“It’s like a memory for our class, like a lasting impression that will always be here,” Caroline said.

“And it’s kind of nice,” added Max, “because even after we’re gone, the little kids will be, like, ‘Oh, who did that?’”

Max hopes his class’s gift will inspire younger grades to leave a lasting legacy as well.

“I think it speaks to what kids can do,” Carter concluded. “With direction from their parents, they can accomplish great things.
“And we’re grateful, very grateful.”

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