Get a Little Greener for Earth Day

As Earth Day gets closer, it’s the perfect opportunity to talk to your family about how we can take small steps every day to protect the environment. From grocery shopping to traveling, it’s easy to conserve energy and resources. Take a look at these creative tips to go a little greener every day:

Shop smarter: Purchase from businesses that support eco-friendly and fair trade practices. Don’t be afraid to read labels and ask how something was made or what an ingredient is. Your weekly Publix trip isn’t just a chance to check off your grocery list; it’s a chance to show what you want to see more of in the market.

Proper disposal: If you have chemical-heavy items such as used batteries, old cell phones, or paint thinner, Earth911 can help you find locations near you that accept and recycle all sorts of materials.

Cleaning products: Rather than using paper products to clean, opt for sponges, washcloths, and towels, which are less expensive, reusable, and easily disinfected with hot water. Baking soda and vinegar are also great non-toxic, budget-friendly options! If the vinegar smell bothers you, follow it up with a bit of lemon juice.

The stove: When you use a lid to cover a pot on the stove, you not only boil your water faster, but you can reduce your energy by up to two-thirds. And if you’re able to prepare multiple foods in the same pot, you can save energy as well.

Get recycling: If you go to the America Recycles Day website, you can enter your zip code and join a community-wide recycling event close to you.

Pest repellents: Did you know that coffee grounds are an easy eco-friendly alternative to pest repellents? Sprinkle these around ant-prone areas and you’ll reap the benefits without suffering from toxic fumes.

Use rainwater: Create a simple, DIY rainwater harvesting system to collect water run-off for your lawn and garden. All it takes if a 50-gallon barrel, a filtering screen, and a spigot. You can collect up to 150 gallons with every rainstorm!

When traveling: If you don’t wash your sheets and towels every day at home, why should you do it when you’re traveling? Leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your hotel room door to prevent the housekeeping staff from cleaning your room every day, which will help conserve cleaning supplies, water, and electricity.

Power strip: Unplug your electronics when they’re not in use. If it takes too much time to unplug each device manually, use a power strip that can turn off multiple devices at once.

St. Charles Borromeo, a private school in Orlando, is more than just a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

 

The Importance of Holy Saturday

The Easter season and Holy Week are sacred, important times of the year. It’s an opportunity for us to remember the last week that Jesus spent walking on Earth and prepare our hearts for His return. Each day of Holy Week is special, and by understanding the importance of Holy Saturday, we can fully appreciate the sacrifice He made for us.

What Happened on the First Holy Saturday?
Holy Saturday is a day of both joy and sadness as we reminisce on the day that Jesus laid in the tomb. Luke 23:56 mentions that the women returned home “and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” Pontius Pilate instructed guards to be posted at the tomb to ensure that the disciples wouldn’t steal His body.

The History
This was the only Saturday on which fasting was permitted in the early days of the Church. In the second century, people fasted for the entirety of the 40-hour period between nightfall on Good Friday and dawn on Easter Sunday. In the reign of Constantine in the fourth century, the tradition of the vigil began.

At dusk, the vigil began with the lighting of the “new fire,” which included a large number of lamps and candles and the Paschal candle. The Paschal candle is made of white wax, marked with a cross and an alpha and omega, and represents leading people out of the darkness and into the celebration of the Easter vigil.

What Happens at the Easter Vigil?
When we celebrate Holy Saturday with the Easter Vigil Mass, we meditate on God’s good works and thank Him for the price Jesus paid. In the early church, Holy Saturday and the vigil of Pentecost were the only days baptism was administered. While we don’t follow that now, the Easter Vigil Mass is still an important night for those who have spent months of preparation to be received through Baptism and Confirmation into the Church.

St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando Catholic school, is more than just a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Lent Around the World

When we think of Lent in the United States, we often think of abstaining from meat, giving up something we enjoy, or adding in a spiritual practice. But there’s a huge range and variety of Lenten (and Pre-Lenten) traditions in other cultures! Find out a bit about what the rest of the world enjoys during this Holy season.

Denmark
In Denmark, locals celebrate “Fastelavn” the Sunday before Lent begins. On this day, everyone enjoys eating cream or jam-filled pastries, and children dress up in costumes and beat a barrel filled with candy (similar to a piñata). The two children who successfully break the barrel open are crowned “Cat King” and “Cat Queen.” Believe it or not, this is because the barrel didn’t always hold candy — it used to hold a live cat!

British Isles
Did you know that the British Isles have a long-famous Lenten tradition of eating hot cross buns? The cross marking on the bun symbolizes Jesus’ crucifixion, while the spices in the dough represent His embalming.

Greece
“Kathari Thetera,” or Clean Monday, commences the Lenten season. The Sunday beforehand, people attend a special evening Mass and ask for forgiveness to start Lent with a clean soul. This holiday also signifies the end of a month of carnival celebrations that take place throughout the country leading up to Lent! Clean Monday is a public holiday, and families enjoy the day at the beach or countryside, often flying kites.

Germany
What we know as Holy Thursday, Maundy Thursday commemorates Jesus’ last supper with His Apostles. This day is called Green Thursday (or Grundonnerstag in Germany). There are a variety of speculations as to why this is, but a common one is that since we’ve historically abstained from eating meat, this day is full of green foods and vegetables.

The United Kingdom
Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is a day to indulge and feast before the beginning of Lent. But it’s not just about eating pancakes — in Britain, locals enjoy pancake races every year! Members of Parliament and the House of Lords compete in an annual charity race around Victoria Gardens, and each contestant must complete a full lap without dropping the pancake out of their frying pan (although many admit to stuffing extra pancakes in their pockets), all while wearing an apron and white chef’s hat.

St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando private school, is more than just a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Ash Wednesday

Every year, we gather on Ash Wednesday to receive ashes on our forehead — but do we truly understand the importance of what we’re doing? Learn more about Ash Wednesday and how we prepare for the Easter season and Jesus’s resurrection.

Why Ashes?
Ashes help us remember Genesis 3:19, which tells us that we came from dust, and to dust, we will return. We participate in recognition that we need to repent, turn away from our sin, and be faithful to the Gospel. Ashes serve as a reminder that we are given eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus.

Where Do The Ashes Come From?
The ashes that mark your forehead come from the blessed palm branches that were used for the previous year’s Palm Sunday Mass. The ashes are sprinkled with holy water and blessed with prayers that are thousands of years old.

The Original Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday marks Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and everyone gathered to celebrate his arrival by waving palm fronds. This was the beginning of the final seven days of Jesus’s earthly ministry.

Preparation
Ash Wednesday signifies our preparation for Holy Week and the resurrection of Jesus. We come to God and ask for mercy, forgiveness, and compassion, and we repent of our sins. By doing so, in 40 days, we are able to celebrate Easter with the joy that God intended!

Ashes in the Bible
Over 40 passages in the Bible associate ashes with grief and mourning. In the Old Testament, people used ashes as a sign of repentance. Daniel 9 says that Daniel “turned to the Lord God and pleaded with Him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes,” and Job 42 shows that Job repented “in dust and ashes.” The Ninevites did the same when Jonah came to them. In Esther 4, Mordecai learns of Haman’s plan to destroy the Jewish people and tears his clothes, puts on sackcloth and ashes, and “went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly.”

Don’t Wash Them Away
In the Middle Ages, ashes were not drawn in a cross on the forehead; they were sprinkled across the head. Now, we leave them on our head as a sign of humility. This is a great opportunity to talk to the people in your life about your faith!

St. Charles Borromeo, a private school in Orlando, is more than just a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Teacher Spotlight: Mary Anne Patchett

Since 1990, Mary Anne Patchett has been a proud member of the St. Charles Borromeo family. Learn more about Ms. Patchett, her love for teaching, and her passion to transform students into compassionate, responsible leaders of the future.

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Daytona Beach and grew up in Longwood, FL.

What subjects do you teach?
I teach 6th-grade World History, 7th-grade Civics and Government, and 8th-grade U.S. History.

What do you like to do for fun?
In college, I worked in a film lab, so photography is definitely a hobby of mine! Besides that, I love the beach and I love to travel, and it’s wonderful to travel to places that you teach about. A few years ago I went to Greece and to be able to share my experiences with the students is incredibly valuable.

Where have you traveled?
I’ve been to England, Ireland, Italy, and Greece. It’s hard to pick a favorite! They’re all so unique. Egypt is on my list next.

When did you know that you wanted to become a teacher?
Teaching wasn’t a plan until I was maybe in high school or college; it was a slow process! But I found out that it was something that I was good at and really enjoyed. I actually started off teaching elementary school. I’ve only been in middle school for 5 or 6 years, but I taught 5th grade for close to 20 years before this.

What’s your favorite thing about teaching social studies?
I think what’s interesting — especially when we talk about the government — is that it’s constantly changing. When we talk about elections and current events, it’s important that we prepare [students] for the world they’re going to be living in and responsible for. We teach them that they’re going to be important leaders and forces of change.

How do you engage your students in the learning process?
I engage the students by showing them respect and expecting it in return. It’s important that they know that you love them and that you care about who they are as individuals. I try to build relationships with them, and I teach with a loving firmness and mutual respect.

Sometimes they’ll surprise you! And sometimes you have to remind them that they know more than they think, and they shouldn’t underestimate themselves. Their opinions mean something, and they should keep striving for their best.

What do you hope your students take away from being in your classroom?
I hope they’re able to think on their own and problem solve. They’re going to be working in jobs and careers that don’t exist yet, and I want them to know that what I did for them was out of love and respect. Teachers want to see success; teachers want to see our students do well, and that’s my goal.

As a College Park private school, our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Life Lessons From the Bible

There are many lessons we can take from the Bible. These stories teach us about forgiveness, obedience, patience, leadership, kindness, love, and courage, and through them, we discover how we can share the love of God with others.

Humility
The Bible addresses humility in a variety of places. Philippians 2 says that “in humility, [we should] count others more significant than yourselves.” Jesus, although He was the son of God, was born into nothing and offered Himself as a servant and friend to society’s outcasts. Philippians 2 also instructs us to place the needs of others first and to do nothing selfishly.

We can also learn about humility from Moses. In spite of his impressive accomplishments, the Bible describes Moses as “a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Nm 12:3). Moses led the resistance against Pharaoh, triumphed over him, and led the slaves through the Red Sea and the desert to freedom in the promised land. Throughout all of this, Moses stayed modest and humble. He never showered himself in praise or asked others to give him credit for God’s work, and this is important for us to remember.

Courage
“I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). We can learn a great deal about courage from Esther. Although God placed her in the right place at the right time to save her people, Esther didn’t know that; she had no idea how anything was going to turn out. She spent three days fasting and praying in preparation for her stand, finding her courage in the Lord rather than in her own spirit, and then went bravely — and unannounced — to the King. We learn that by looking for our bravery in God, we can positively affect the lives of those around us. When we are struggling to be courageous, we can encourage ourselves with the words of Psalm 27:1: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”

Compassion
The Bible in Psalm 116:5 tells us that our “Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion,” and Colossians 3:12 reminds us that as God’s people, we are to “clothe [ourselves] with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Compassion is about more than taking pity on someone or feeling bad for them; compassion should drive us to action. And Jesus models this for us over and over again.

In Matthew 20, Jesus asks two blind men what He can do for them, and they say, “Lord, let our eyes be opened. Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed Him.” We see a similar occurrence in Mark 1:40, when “a leper came to Him, imploring Him, and kneeling said to Him, “If you will, you can make me clean. Moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand and touched Him and said to him, “I will; be clean.”

Again in Mark 6:34, Mark 8:2, Matthew 9, and Matthew 14:14, scripture tells us that Jesus was moved with compassion for these crowds that were “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd,” hungry with nothing to eat, and full of the sick and disease that needed His healing hand. Whether it was feeding, healing, providing, or calling others to serve, Jesus’s compassion always led to action. As followers of Christ, we must be the same way.

As a Catholic school in Orlando, our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Teacher Spotlight: Karri Gomez

Even when she was young and living in the tiny town of Ponca City, Oklahoma — a town so small that there wasn’t even a McDonald’s until she turned 13 — Karri Gomez knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. My family was either in teaching, farming, or insurance — there was no in between. My parents, aunts, and uncles were teachers. I’ve always had a natural knack for communication and reaching kids,” said Gomez. “I learned [from my family] at a very early age that teaching was more than giving instruction in a classroom setting: it’s about building confidence and life skills.”

Over the years, Gomez watched her family make a difference in their students’ lives and became inspired to do the same in her future classroom. She believes that every experience you have molds you. She moved around frequently as a child, and those experiences strongly affect her approach to teaching. She’s conscious of how every child feels in her classroom and remembers what she would have wanted as a new student.

“We moved around a lot, and when we moved, I got to experience being the new kid — sometimes good, sometimes bad,” said Gomez. “I had teachers that were empathetic and teachers that weren’t. It really taught me what it’s like for a child to experience being new, and I would never want someone to experience the negative things that I did; I really want them to experience the positive things. I want to create an enriching and engaging classroom where students enjoy the learning process.”

In Gomez’s classroom, she makes the curriculum come alive, whether it’s through solving exciting “classroom crimes” with interactive clues or by sharing funny, relatable stories. You’ll never find her at her desk; she’s constantly involved with her students, joyful as she watches them discover new information.

“I’ll teach any grade level, I love them all! But third grade is so much fun. What’s so amazing about this age group is this is when they start to develop their own voice and personality. They take what they’ve learned and really start to apply it,” said Gomez. “They become more independent and mature learners; they become more advanced readers, writers, mathematicians, and thinkers. We go deeper into topics and the students can relate the content to their personal life and experience. This shows up in their writing and everything becomes more personal. It’s so much fun watching them grow throughout the year!”

Not only does Gomez help students grow academically, but spiritually. At the top of every assignment, each student’s paper is headed with Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” She loves sharing the Word of God with them and loves watching their eyes light up in the faith-filled moments

“As a teacher, I always say a prayer about the class I’m going to get,” said Gomez. “It’s not so much, “How am I going to get through all this material?” It’s, “Open my eyes to what they need. How can I help them? Who needs help academically? Who needs to challenged? Who is lacking in self-confidence?”

Throughout the year, Gomez gets to know each student as an individual and encourages them to push through challenges. It’s important that each child understands how capable they are and that they can always lean on the Lord, because He will always be there for them.

“I never look at what I do as a job; I love working with my students. I love that I get to learn with them. Building a strong rapport with students is the key to a successful learning experience,” said Gomez. “Students have to know they can come to you. You have to be there for [students] and get to know them. They have to know I’m going to help them, be there for them, and cheer them on.”

As an Orlando private school, our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

How to Prepare for The Advent Season

Christmas season is right around the corner! Our Orlando private school community is excited for the upcoming festivities to celebrate Jesus’ birth. But before then, we want to take time to observe Advent. This is the perfect time to slow down, focus on the meaning of the season, and deepen our relationship with Christ.

Practice Silence
Between holiday parties and social commitments, Christmas is often a loud and busy time. In contrast, Advent is a time to be quiet! Dedicate the beginning of each day to nurturing your relationship with Him by praying for a friend, reading your favorite Bible story, or listening to your favorite worship music on the drive to work.

Advent Wreath
An Advent wreath represents Christ’s eternal love for us. On the wreath, there are four candles: three purple and one pink. There’s also a white candle in the center of the wreath. The purple candles represent our preparation for the Messiah through things such as prayer and fasting, the pink candle represents our joy for His coming, and the white candle — also called the Christ Candle — represents His purity and ability to wash away our sins. The colored candles are lit each Sunday to remind us of the light Christ delivers compared to the darkness of sin.

Give to Charity
God calls us to serve others, and Advent is in the heart of the giving season! There’s a surplus of giving opportunities around the holidays, so consider donating your time to serving your community. If free time is scarce during the busy holiday season, you and your family could also set money aside to give toward the charity of your choosing.

Daily Devotional
Sometimes what we need is a small dose of nourishment through a devotional. This can be done on your own, or you can gather friends and family to complete the devotionals together. You may be surprised how many people would love some company while digging into the Bible! You can hold each other accountable, help answer each other’s questions, and encourage one another when you become frustrated or confused.

Nightly Bible Time
Children greatly benefit from observing the Advent season! If you don’t already have nightly Bible time, Advent is an excellent opportunity to spend evenings talking about the Bible together. As Christmas gets closer, spend your time reading about the birth of Jesus, and talk to your children about what we can learn from Advent.

As an Orlando private school, our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

How to Throw an All Saints Day Party

November 1st is All Saints Day! This is a time for us to remember the saints and celebrate them with our friends and family. As an Orlando private school, St. Charles Borromeo loves to see our community partake in these celebrations alongside the people who matter most. If you’re considering throwing an All Saints Day Party this year, take a look at some fun games to incorporate!

Angel Food Cupcake Walk
Snacks are one of the best parts of any party — especially for young kids. Why not combine a treat with a game? Print out pictures of saints for your kids and their friends to stand in front of. Write down the names of each saint, and then put them in a hat. Draw a name, and whoever is standing by that saint wins a cupcake! Want to add an extra layer of excitement? Tape pictures of saints to chairs and turn this into a game of musical chairs, or ask children to give a fact about the saint before rewarding them with a treat.

Halo Party Favors
Need a fun, simple party favor? Try glow sticks. You can put together glow stick halos for each guest, or let them pick their own colors and create their own halo. These “bracelet halos” are an easy way to set the mood and help everyone remember the reason for celebration.

Pin The Halo on The Saint
Put a spin on an old classic with a picture of a saint, a paper halo, some tape, and a blindfold. Apply the same rules for Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Just place the blindfold on a player, spin them 3 times (or more or less, depending on the age of your players), and see if they succeed in pinning the halo on the saint.

Saint Freeze Tag
Now that cooler weather is approaching, it’s time to take the games outside! Everyone can challenge their own knowledge of saints with this twist on freeze tag. Whenever someone is tagged and frozen, they have to say the name of a saint to unfreeze. The hard part? You can’t repeat a name!

Our community at St. Charles Borromeo wishes you and your family a happy All Saints Day! As an Orlando private school, our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Celebrate National Good Neighbor Day

September 28th is National Good Neighbor Day! As an Orlando private school, St. Charles Borromeo teaches our students to share the love of Jesus with everyone around them — and this holiday is the perfect time to do that. We aim to be good neighbors throughout the entire year, but we’re excited to take this opportunity to go above and beyond, especially as many neighborhoods welcome new families at the start of a school year.

Follow the Commandments

As Jesus explains in Matthew 22:36-39, the most important commandment is to love God, and the second is to love your neighbor as you would love yourself. On the surface level, it may be easy to assume He means that we should simply be kind to others, and while being kind is a good start, we can do better than that.

Take the First Step

Can you name all of your neighbors? You’d be surprised how many people are unaware of who lives right next door! Reach out to your neighbor, and introduce yourself. There’s a vulnerability that comes with putting yourself out there and taking that first step, but oftentimes, people are hoping someone else will take initiative — and that can be you.

The Little Things

You don’t have to do anything extravagant; in fact, the little things are often the most powerful. You and your children can bake homemade sweets to welcome your new neighbors to town, or invite them over for dinner. It’s also important to make yourself available. By simply being outside more, walking over to say hi while you’re both doing yard work, or just waving hi, you’re showing that you’re open to getting to know each other more! If your neighbor asks for your help, do as much as you can.

Show Interest in Them

And perhaps the most important: remember that your job is not to turn each conversation into a deep heart-to-heart on the Bible and religious beliefs. Show a genuine interest in their children, their aging parents, their dream to go back to school, and make plans to see that new movie that you both can’t wait for. Value the ordinary parts of people’s lives without feeling like you’ve got to “get to the church stuff,” and you’ll find an entirely new depth.

Go Beyond Your Neighborhood

Being a good neighbor doesn’t end when you drive off your street. Dedicate time and energy to helping out in your community. That can include planning a garage sale and donating the proceeds to charity, volunteering at a local nonprofit, or helping a friend at church fundraise for their mission trip.

We’re called to follow in His footsteps, and what better way to do this than to be warm, inviting neighbors? As an Orlando private school, our community aims to help our students embrace a kind and generous spirit. Find out more about our amazing school here!