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Fifth Grader’s Message Inspires Mount Merici Academy Service Project to Help the Children of Puerto Rico

WATERVILLE---Among the many benefits of a Catholic education are an enduring commitment to instilling Christ-centered values and an understanding of the importance of service to others.

The Serviam Shield, the logo worn by students on their uniforms at Mount Merici Academy in Waterville, means "I will serve." During Maine Catholic Schools Week (Jan. 28-Feb. 3), the academy will do just that through a project inspired by a fifth-grade girl.

“She wrote to me right before Christmas because she was sad about all of the need in the world and seeing all the charities on television,” said Victoria Duguay, principal at Mount Merici Academy. She wanted to ‘propose a Penny War to exercise our Serviam hearts.’ She went on to say, "having this (Penny War) happen would make me feel that even though I'm only in 5th grade, I can still do service work and be a part of Serviam.’”

As a result, the academy will hold the “Together, We Can” Penny War during Maine Catholic Schools Week. All week, Mount Merici students in each classroom will place pennies in their classroom jar. Students can then go to other classrooms and deposit silver change and dollar bills which will be subtracted from the total of the other classroom. The fifth graders were allowed to select who would benefit and they chose the children in Puerto Rico who are recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

“Our students see service as a privilege, not a chore,” said Duguay. “It’s remarkable to observe children so anxious to help other children.”

In addition to the service project during Catholic Schools Week, an Italian supper in celebration of the Feast Day of Saint Angela Merici, foundress of the Ursuline Order, will be held at the academy on Saturday, January 27, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.; a schoolwide Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, January 31, at 10 a.m.; and a family movie night is slated for Friday, February 2.

The academy will also host a series of fun activities for the students during the week, including academic contests, door decorating, student against faculty competitions, a bowling field trip, and a large book fair. Prospective families are invited to tour the school throughout the week as well.

Catholic Schools Week celebrates the mission of Catholic Schools: to evangelize students by nourishing faith and encouraging academic excellence while accentuating the importance of community and service in a nurturing environment. For a look at activities and projects taking place at other Catholic schools in Maine during Catholic Schools Week, click here.