By Christine Young, Intermountain Catholic
SANDY — Blessed Sacrament School this year earned its 7th Promising Practices award; it is one of two schools in Utah to participate in the national education program through Character.org, which awarded 235 Promising Practices awards to schools, districts and youth-serving organizations from across the United States and six foreign countries.
The awards are for unique and specific exemplary practices that encourage the ethical, social and academic growth of kindergarten through senior high school students through character education.
The other Utah school that participates in the program is Mountainville, in Alpine.
Blessed Sacrament School is a National School of Character, under which Promising Practices falls.
National Schools of Character are those serving students in early childhood through high school that become part of a network of Schools of Character that serve as models and mentors to other educators and hold their designation for five years.
“The Promising Practice award is based on a sustainable project that can be replicated at any grade level across the nation and internationally so that it can be implemented by other schools focusing on building character, which increases academic performance,” said Brigitte Klement, Blessed Sacrament advancement coordinator.
Blessed Sacrament School’s 2015 Promising Practices project was “Literacy Tiled Peace Poles Today.”
Through the school-wide theme of literacy, students in each grade level, pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, discussed and learned about challenges other people faced in different parts of the world. The students found in their research that nearly 1 in 6 people around the world cannot read or write, and many children are too poor to attend school, schools may be scarce, or their society may be engaged in war.
Almost two-thirds of non-literate people are women, a cause of them continuing to live in poverty. The students learned that this impacts personal autonomy, economic security, job opportunities, health and the quality of democracy, said Marcy Mullholand, assistant principal and art teacher.
“This project brought an awareness of literacy and a right to an education to the Blessed Sacrament students,” Mullholand said. “Students discussed and reflected on the challenge of literacy around the globe. They then illustrated their feelings on a foam tile and wrote their wish for another child who might not be able to attend school for some reason.”
Each student was given a 4×4 foam tile. The younger grades were asked to illustrate the tile with a picture from their favorite book with the idea that the drawing was for a child who may not be able to read.
The middle-school students were asked to briefly write on their tile about how education or literacy has impacted their lives and how they feel about having the experience of being able to learn at school.
The 275 individual tiles were then placed on two “peace poles” that stood 10 feet high and were located in the school’s main lobby. The peace poles were on display for several months after the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21. During Family Literacy Night, funds were collected to send an African girl to school through Heifer International.
“This was a very engaging and impactful project for all students,” Mullholand said. “As students, parents or visitors would come into the building through the main doors; they were greeted by these beautiful illustrations by the students. It was an eye-opening project for the students; it was the first time they had considered the fact that not every child wakes up and goes to school, and that women and, in particular young girls, were prohibited from going to school and were made to work instead.”