Saint Nicholas–A Model of Christmas Giving

(Prayer offered over the Public Address system on the Feast of Saint Nicholas, 6 December 2013)

Mr. Lisi:  Let us remember that we are in the presence of a loving and great God.

 Katie: Hey, Jimmy.  Today is December 6th.  It’s the feast day of a very special saint.  Do you know what a feast day is?

 Jimmy:  Of course I do, Katie.  I’m in PEGASUS!  A feast day is a day set aside by the Church to honor the deeds and accomplishments of a saint.

 Katie: You got it, Jimmy.  Today is the feast day of St. Nicholas.  St. Nicholas lived in the 4th century.  He was the Bishop of Myra, which is now part of modern-day Turkey.


 Jimmy:  I remember learning that he is also known as the Wonder-worker because of all the miracles he performed.   His miracles can be attributed to feeding his fellow townspeople during hard times and a famine, resurrecting three youngsters who had been killed, saving sailors caught in a tempest, and many more stories.

 Katie:  I especially like the story of how he tossed bags of coins into his friend’s window to help his friend marry off his daughters.  The coins fell in the man’s slipper at the side of his bed.  Many say that that’s how we got the tradition of having Christmas stockings filled by Santa.


 Jimmy:  Speaking of Santa, that jolly rotund man dressed in a red suit actually comes from the image of St. Nicholas.  During the time when many nationalities were coming to the New World to settle down, the Dutch children would always celebrate St. Nicholas’ feast day.  They called him Sintaklaas.  Sintaklaas, which eventually evolved from St. Nicholas to Santa Claus.  Later on, Sir Clement Moore wrote the famous poem about St. Nick.  You know that poem, Katie, don’t you?  It was the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 Katie:  OK, Jimmy, I know that poem.  If you read the whole thing, we will all miss first period class. Enough, please!

Jimmy:  Well, anyway, it’s true that the image we hold of Santa Claus was modeled after a great man in the Catholic Church.  Today we honor the spirit of a man of tremendous faith, unending generosity and unconditional love for his people.  After we finish prayer, let’s stroll down to PEGASUSland to see the St. Nicholas display we have in our display case.  Students and teachers are welcome to come to view our display anytime between today and Christmas.


 Mr. Lisi:  Let us pray,

Heavenly Father,

Christmas is a time of giving, giving to those who are in need.  Help us to show our generosity to others in a way that models what St. Nicholas did for his people many centuries ago.  As we ready ourselves for the Adopt-a-Family Program,


we pray that all that we bring in will brighten the lives of others during this very special time of the year.  We also pray that we will open our hearts to our family members and friends.  Help us to give generously to their needs too, whether it be giving them special time that they need, lending a helping hand, saying words of encouragement, or giving handshakes, high 5’s  and hugs.

St. John  Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.

St. Nicholas – Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts – Forever.

La Salle Academy PEGASUS  7/8 (Robert Lisi [Principal and Saint Nicholas in the pictures] and students Katie Friedemann and Jimmy Truslow)

The Spark of Lifelong Learning

Annie Murphy Paul in the School Library Journal article “The Science of Interest” has identified a “force” that teachers can use to their advantage while working with students in the classroom.  As researcher Joseph Mazer states, “Teachers can utilize explanatory summaries to highlight relationships among lecture content, use clear transitions to help students follow the lesson content, and implement visual materials to make abstract and unengaging material concrete and stimulating—building cognitive interest.”  He also found that students who are emotionally and cognitively interested in a course are more likely to be engaged in the learning process.

Please enjoy reading The Spark of Lifelong Learning”

“Scientists have recently made a remarkable discovery,” says author/journalist Annie Murphy Paul in this article in School Library Journal. “They have identified a force, commonly found in classrooms and libraries, that makes people think more clearly, understand more deeply, and remember more accurately. This force has the power to transform struggling students, and to lift high-achieving students to a new plane.” What is it? Interest! In Dewey’s words 100 years ago, it means “being engaged, engrossed, or entirely taken up” with something. “Interest pulls us toward the new, the edgy, the exotic,” says Paul. “But interest also focuses experience. In a world too full of information, interests usefully narrow our choices: they lead us to pay attention to this and not to that.”


Interest also makes us better learners. We pay closer attention, think more critically, use self-monitoring strategies, make stronger connections between old and new knowledge, look below the surface, work harder, remember more clearly, and persist longer. Interest can even help students overcome academic difficulties and perceptual disabilities.

But the sad news is that students’ level of interest declines steadily through school, bottoming out in early high school – just as they are called upon to make some crucial life decisions. Is it possible to spark interest in the surly adolescent? Definitely, says Paul. Research tells us that interest “always begins with an external ‘trigger,’ and that well-designed environments can make such a triggering more likely.” But should parents and educators be giving kids something that ideally should come from within? We shouldn’t spoon-feed them, says Paul, or depend on extrinsic rewards. Rather, the role of wise teachers and librarians is to skillfully elicit interest by exposing children to a wide variety of subject matter that’s novel, complex, and comprehensible, hooking them by linking prior knowledge to challenging new material. “A virtuous cycle is thus initiated,” says Paul: “more learning leads to more questions, which in turn leads to more learning.” A key factor is teachers’ and librarians’ own passion for particular subjects, communicated in a friendly, chatty, encouraging way.

pencils and hands

Once captured, what leads students to maintain a new interest? One thing not to do is tell students how useful and important it will be in their adult lives. A better approach, says Paul, is to encourage kids “to generate their own connections and discover for themselves the relevance of academic subject matter to their lives.” It’s also important to build students’ feelings of competence and self-efficacy, which will help them sustain their attention and motivation when they come across challenging or confusing material. Paul describes how Suzanne Hidi of the University of Toronto “jigsawed” a museum visit, telling each student to become an expert in a particular exhibit and then use what they learned to help the class complete a collaborative challenge. Librarians can use this approach with the library’s resources. “The goal in each case,” concludes Paul, “is to produce young adults with interests that provide them with lasting intellectual stimulation and fulfillment, interests that they pursue over a lifetime with vigor and zest.”

“The Science of Interest” by Annie Murphy Paul in School Library Journal, November 2013 (Vol. 59, #11, p. 24-27),

Paul can be reached at

Donald Kavanagh