Our Lady of Victory School partners with Make-a-Wish to raise $1,200 for sick children

Yasmine Fakhoury, second grade, Graeme Butcher, second grade, hold an arts and crafts project that will be given to sick children through the Make-a-Wish Foundation as part of a fundraiser for Catholic Schools Week at Our Lady of Victory School in Northville. (Photos by Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Service project supports teacher's 300-mile “Wish-a-Mile” bike ride across Michigan, shows students value of Catholic Schools Week

NORTHVILLE — Students at Our Lady of Victory School in Northville are dedicating Catholic Schools Week to looking out for others and learning what it means to serve.

Inspired by the school's V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. values — Virtuous living, Intellectual learning, Christ-like behavior, Teamwork, Opportunities for service, Respect for all, Yes to forgiveness — the entire school is engaging in a weeklong service project to celebrate the school’s Catholic identity.

“Every year, we pick some sort of charity to focus on for Catholic Schools Week, and if we can do things near and dear to people on staff, we try to focus on that,” Our Lady of Victory principal Kate Szuba told Detroit Catholic. “This year, we chose the Make-a-Wish Foundation, something close to Mrs. (Kathleen) England, our pre-kindergarten teacher.”

England takes part in Make-a-Wish’s “Wish-a-Mile” bike ride every summer, raising money for Make-a-Wish Michigan, which grants wishes to critically ill children. The 300-mile bike ride takes place at the end of July, going from Traverse City to Marshall over three days. Each rider solicits sponsors for the trip.

Kathleen Guirey, a first-grade teacher at Our Lady of Victory School, shows students how to make a paper “sunflower” for Make-a-Wish recipients on Jan. 28.

Our Lady of Victory’s goal is for the school's 434 students to raise $1,200, Szuba said. In addition to raising money, students at the K-8 school are completing various arts and crafts projects to support riders and wish recipients.

“We started at the beginning of the school year with a ‘jeans day’ donation for the staff,” said England, who's completed the bike ride for the past three years with her husband. “We then thought it would be great to partner with Make-a-Wish for Catholic Schools Week to incorporate the kids.”

After a presentation about the Make-a-Wish Foundation to students on Monday, students and teachers dedicated classroom time to making arts and crafts projects with their “buddies” from different grades. 

The projects — a picture frame decorated with painted rocks and wires — will be sent to sick children, “and it’s going to make them better and make them happy,” said second-grader Graeme Butcher, who was partnered with his eight-grade buddy Jack Woolhiser. 

Students at Our Lady of Victory School in Northville work on arts and crafts projects for the Make-a-Wish Foundation on Jan. 28.

“We get to spend extra time this week with our buddy, and it makes this week better,” Graeme said. “The teachers tell us there are kids that don’t have as much as we do, and we need to give to people who don’t have as much as we do and to be kind.”

Eighth-grader Sarah Palushaj spent the week with her second-grade buddy Yasmine Fakhoury doing various activities from arts and crafts to Bible trivia and Eucharistic adoration.

“We get to spend more time with our buddies, and we do a lot more crafts through the week,” Sarah said. “I like to hang out with them and read with them; it’s a good experience to bond with the kids.”

Sarah said she likes how during Catholic Schools Week “we get to celebrate our faith,” especially as she prepares for an important sacrament in her own life. 

“This year, I get to celebrate the gift of confirmation — and it’s really special this week to teach the faith to our buddies and do different activities with our faith,” Sarah said.

In addition to service projects, Our Lady of Victory's Catholic Schools Week included an all-school Mass on Wednesday, a student rosary on Thursday and a visit to the adoration chapel on Friday.

Our Lady of Victory School pre-kindergarten teacher Kathleen England each year participates in the “Wish-a-Mile” bike ride from Traverse City to Marshall to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

“The students get to spend a lot of time with each other and understand their faith even more,” third-grade teacher Mary Maslak said. 

“I love the fact I can talk about my faith and share my faith with the students,” Maslak added. “It’s so special we can be in the classroom together and talk about God on a regular basis, and they can ask questions and can relate every single subject back to our faith. It’s my favorite part of Catholic Schools Week.”

Completing a common service brings the different grades closer together, Szuba said. It's also a chance for Our Lady of Victory students to take the lessons they learn in the classroom out into the real world.

“We teach (students) to do to others like Christ wants us to do, not just by saying those words, but doing those words,” Szuba said. “Because we are embracing our Victory values, showing our kids those Victory values, it really embraces Catholic Schools Week.”

Third-grader Hadley Surdu said learning about Jesus is her favorite part of school.

“I love the teachers and I love learning about the religion; I just love this school,” Hadley said. “You learn lots of stuff that is really important. Our religion is amazing here; you learn to diagram sentences with nouns and verb. You learn about math and nature. You just learn a lot.”